Ellis v. St Joseph County et al
OPINION AND ORDER re 1 PRO SE COMPLAINT filed by Plaintiff James Ellis, Jr. This case is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A because the Complaint does not state a claim. Signed by Judge Jon E DeGuilio on 5/17/17. (Copy mailed to pro se party).(cer)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
JAMES ELLIS, JR.,
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, JEROME
FRESE, and JEFFREY L. SANFORD,
Cause No. 3:17-CV-308 JD
OPINION AND ORDER
James Ellis, Jr., a pro se prisoner, is attempting to sue St. Joseph County and two St. Joseph
Superior Court judges based on judicial rulings during his State criminal proceedings. “A
document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully
pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quotation marks and citations omitted). Nevertheless,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court must review the merits of a prisoner complaint and
dismiss it if the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.
Here, Ellis alleges that the judges made improper entries in his records and sentenced him
incorrectly. However, a judge is entitled to absolute immunity for judicial acts regarding matters
within the court’s jurisdiction, even if the judge’s “exercise of authority is flawed by the
commission of grave procedural errors.” Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 359 (1978). Ellis
alleges that the judges acted illegally, but because their actions were within the jurisdiction of a
State criminal court, they have judicial immunity. Though Ellis also sues St. Joseph County, it is
not responsible for anything done by the two State court judges. See Indiana Code 33-38-12-4.
Though it is usually necessary to permit a plaintiff the opportunity to file an amended
complaint when a case is dismissed sua sponte, see Luevano v. Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014 (7th Cir.
2013), that is unnecessary where the amendment would be futile. Hukic v. Aurora Loan Servs.,
588 F.3d 420, 432 (7th Cir. 2009) (“[C]ourts have broad discretion to deny leave to amend where
. . . the amendment would be futile.”) Such is the case here.
For these reasons, this case is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A because the
complaint does not state a claim.
ENTERED: May 17, 2017
/s/ JON E. DEGUILIO
United States District Judge
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