Johnson et al v. Bergerson et al
OPINION AND ORDER: The court DISMISSES Charles H. Scott and Ronald T. Means, Sr., WITHOUT PREJUDICE, DIRECTS the clerk to send Armann Jamal Johnson two extra copies of this order so he may give them to Charles H. Scott and Ronald T. Means, Sr., DISMISSES this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915A because the defendants are immune. Signed by Judge Robert L Miller, Jr on 10/9/2019. ***Civil Case Terminated. (Copy mailed as directed in Order certified mail 7019 1120 0001 9119 6855) (shk)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
ARMANN JAMAL JOHNSON,
CAUSE NO. 3:19-CV-865-RLM-MGG
MICHEAL BERGERSON, et al.,
OPINION AND ORDER
Armann Jamal Johnson, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed this lawsuit. He
listed two other plaintiffs on the complaint, but neither signed it. Because no
address was provided for either of them, it is impossible for the court to contact
them, so they will be dismissed without prejudice. Mr. Johnson will be sent two
extra copies of this order so he can give one to each of the purported co-plaintiffs.
If either would like to file a lawsuit, they can do so by obtaining a blank copy of
the Prisoner Complaint (INND Rev. 8/16) form from the jail law library.
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. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. “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).
Mr. Johnson is suing two defendants based on events related to how bond
was set in his State criminal case. He sues Judge Michael Bergerson because he
did not set a reasonable bond. “A judge has absolute immunity for any judicial
actions unless the judge acted in absence of all jurisdiction.” Polzin v. Gage, 636
F.3d 834, 838 (7th Cir. 2011). “A judge will not be deprived of immunity because
the action he took was in error, was done maliciously, or was in excess of his
authority; rather, he will be subject to liability only when he has acted in the
clear absence of all jurisdiction.” Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 359 (1978).
Setting bond is within the jurisdiction of a State court judge. Judge Michael
Bergerson has immunity and the claim against him must be dismissed.
Mr. Johnson also sues Deputy Prosecutor Elizabeth Boehn because she
argued to the State court that Mr. Johnson was a danger to the community. “[I]n
initiating a prosecution and in presenting the State’s case, the prosecutor is
immune from a civil suit for damages under § 1983.” Imbler v. Pachtman, 424
U.S. 409, 431 (1976). Absolute immunity shields prosecutors even if they act
maliciously, unreasonably, without probable cause, or even on the basis of false
testimony or evidence. Smith v. Power, 346 F.3d 740, 742 (7th Cir. 2003).
Arguing to the court about the factors to be considered in a bond decision is part
of presenting the State’s case. Deputy Prosecutor Elizabeth Boehn has immunity
and the claim against her must be dismissed.
Though it is usually necessary to permit a plaintiff the opportunity to file
an amended complaint when a case is dismissed without a motion, see Luevano
v. Wal-Mart, 722F.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.”). Both of these defendants are immune from suit,
so amendment would be futile.
For these reasons, the court:
(1) DISMISSES Charles H. Scott and Ronald T. Means, Sr., WITHOUT
(2) DIRECTS the clerk to send Armann Jamal Johnson two extra copies of
this order so he may give them to Charles H. Scott and Ronald T. Means, Sr.;
(3) DISMISSES this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A because the
defendants are immune.
SO ORDERED on October 9, 2019
s/ Robert L. Miller, Jr.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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