PULLINS v. ELDRIDGE et al
ORDER denying without prejudice 12 Motion To Enjoin Defendants from Making Changes to Marion County Election Board Website Concerning Past Election Results. ***SEE ORDER FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION*** (Copy to Plaintiff via U.S. mail) Signed by Judge James R. Sweeney II on 9/9/2021. (JDC)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
PIERRE Q. PULLINS,
MYLA ELDRIDGE in her capacity of
MARION COUNTY ELECTION BOARD,
INDIANA ELECTION COMMISSION,
MARION COUNTY CLERK,
CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS,
STATE OF INDIANA,
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO ENJOIN DEFENDANTS
Pierre Q. Pullins ("Mr. Pullins"), pro se, alleges that he is the victim of a decadeslong political conspiracy.
Mr. Pullins alleges that the clerks of Marion County,
Indiana, falsified his vote totals when he was a candidate in the Democratic primaries
for Indiana's Seventh Congressional District. (Am. Compl., ECF No. 14.) While Mr.
Pullins named several government entities as Defendants in his complaint, (id.), he
currently moves for a preliminary injunction ("Motion") against only three of them:
(1) the current clerk of Marion County, Myla Eldridge; (2) the City of Indianapolis;
and (3) Marion County, Indiana (collectively "Present Defendants"). (Mot. to Enjoin,
ECF No. 12.) For the following reasons, the Court denies Mr. Pullins's Motion.
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Indiana has nine congressional districts. The Seventh Congressional District is
located entirely within Marion County and represents a large part of Indianapolis.
Under Indiana law, the district's primary and general elections are overseen by the
Marion County Election Board ("Election Board"). See Ind. Code § 3-6-5-14(a). The
Election Board consists of three people: the Marion County Clerk and two appointees.
Ind. Code § 3-6-5-2. The Election Board has a website, where it lists the results of
past elections and provides voter information.
Marion County Election Board,
https://www.indy.gov/agency/marion-county-election-board (last visited August 30,
2021). The Court assumes that for all relevant years here, the Election Board has
overseen the Democratic primaries for the Seventh Congressional District.
The following background is drawn from the Amended Complaint, (Am. Compl.,
ECF No. 14), which, though filed after the instant motion, is the operative complaint.
Mr. Pullins has campaigned in the Democratic primary for the Seventh Congressional
District every election year since 2006. He alleges that during each of his runs, the
Marion County Clerks falsified the vote totals for his candidacy. (Id. 2-3.) Mr. Pullins
claims that in 2010, the Marion County Clerk's Office removed the 2006 election
results from the Election Board's website. (Id. at 2.) According to Mr. Pullins, those
results were kept off the website from 2010 until late September 2020, when those
pages started to be "corrected or 'fixed.'" (Am. Compl. 2, ECF No. 14.) Mr. Pullins
"believes" that Office's handling of the webpage "is also a crime." (Id.)
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Shortly thereafter, Mr. Pullins filed this Motion. (Mot. to Enjoin, ECF No. 12.)
He seeks two injunctions: a mandatory injunction ordering Present Defendants to
restore the Election Board's website to its "position at the beginning of May 1, 2020"—
thereby removing the now-visible 2006 election results—and a prohibitory injunction
barring Present Defendants from changing any webpages on the Election Board's
website which "concern the reporting of the 2006 election result totals." (Id.) His
Motion is narrow—it only concerns the webpages related to the 2006 election results.
One final note: none of the parties were required to file briefs on this Motion, see
S.D. Ind. L.R. 65-2(a), and no one has. Thus, with the time for filing briefs having
passed, the Court takes the Motion at face value and considers it along with Mr.
Pullins's other pleadings, as he is a pro se litigant. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
94 (2007) (pro se filings must be evaluated liberally).
II. Standard of Review
Preliminary injunctions are extraordinary remedies. Winter v. Nat. Ress. Def.
Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008). A request for a preliminary injunction has two
First, "[a] party seeking a preliminary injunction must satisfy all three
requirements in the threshold phase by showing that (1) it will suffer irreparable
harm in the period before the resolution of its claim; (2) traditional legal remedies are
inadequate; and (3) there is some likelihood of success on the merits of the claim."
HH-Indianapolis, LLC v. Consol. City of Indianapolis & Cnty of Marion, Ind., 889
F.3d 432, 437 (7th Cir. 2018) (quotations omitted) (citing Girl Scouts of Manitou
Council, Inc. v. Girl Scouts of U.S. of Am., Inc., 549 F.3d 1079, 1086 (7th Cir. 2008)).
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The movant bears the burden of showing that a preliminary injunction is warranted.
Harlan v. Scholz, 866 F.3d 754, 758 (7th Cir. 2017) (citing Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520
U.S. 968, 972 (1997)). Satisfying the "likelihood of success" standard requires a
"strong showing that normally includes a demonstration of how the applicant
proposes to prove the key elements of its case." Tranchita v. Callahan, 511 F. Supp.
3d 850, 864 (N.D. Ill. 2021) (quotations removed) (quoting Ill. Republican Party v.
Pritzker, 973 F.3d 760, 762–63 (7th Cir. 2020)).
If a plaintiff makes such a showing, "the court must then weigh the harm the
plaintiff will suffer without an injunction against the harm the defendant will suffer
with one." Harlan, 866 F.3d at 758 (citing Ty, Inc. v. Jones Grp., Inc., 237 F.3d 891,
895 (7th Cir. 2001)). The court must also consider whether the public interest would
be served by the injunction. Ty, 237 F.3d at 895. The court "weighs all of these
factors, sitting as would a chancellor in equity, when it decides whether to grant the
injunction." Id. (quotations omitted) (quoting Abbot Lab'ys v. Mead Johnson & Co.,
971 F.2d 6, 12 (7th Cir. 1992)). This includes looking to the traditional maxims used
in the courts of equity. See 11A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal
Practice and Procedure § 2942 (3d ed. 2021) (illustrating how the history of equity
plays a role in evaluating injunctions).
Here, the Motion does not demonstrate any of the elements for a preliminary
injunction. Common Cause Ind. v. Lawson, 978 F.3d 1036, 1039 (7th Cir. 2020)
(setting out the preliminary injunction standard). First, the Court cannot divine how
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Mr. Pullins will irreparably be harmed before his claims are resolved. Indeed, there
is no pending or impending election.
Second, his prayer for monetary relief
undermines any finding that traditional legal remedies are inadequate. Third, the
Court does not see a likelihood of success on the merits here. Mr. Pullins has cited
no authority, and the Court is not aware of any, that would not allow changes to the
Looking beyond the Motion, to the Amended Complaint, it is equally apparent
that Mr. Pullins faces challenges to succeeding on the merits of the underlying claims.
Mr. Pullins has not illustrated how the facts alleged would meet the key elements of
any of the pleaded causes of action. His Amended Complaint broadly states that the
Defendants have violated three different federal laws: the Voting Rights Act; 42
U.S.C. § 1985; and 18 U.S.C. § 1519. (Am. Compl. 2, ECF No. 14.) He also pleads
that the Defendants have engaged in election fraud, conspiracy, and "political
persecution." (Id. at 2, 4-5.) But nowhere does Mr. Pullins show—and the Court is
unable to see—how taking down the 2006 election results webpages, or how restoring
them in 2020, violates these laws. While Mr. Pullins is permitted to have his Motion
stand on its own, his Motion to change the website today does not make any legal
arguments. In sum, either looking at the requested relief in the Motion or in the
Amended Complaint, Mr. Pullins has not met his burden.
Even if the Court could get to the balancing analysis, Mr. Pullins's Motion does
not warrant relief because it is unclear. The title of his Motion seeks to prevent
Present Defendants from "making changes" to the website, but the body of his Motion
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asks for the website to be "restore[d]." (Mot. to Enjoin, ECF No. 12.) So, while the
Motion seeks to enjoin any changes to the website concerning the 2006 election
results, it is unclear whether Mr. Pullins wishes the 2006 election results to be made
available on the website, or to be removed from the website at this time. Construing
the Amended Complaint liberally, for example, the Court discerns his prayer for relief
as stemming from the allegedly fraudulent "removal of the 2006 election result totals
from the Marion County Election Board's website . . . and . . . the disabling of the site
so that none of the vote totals can be seen." (Am. Compl. 6, ECF No. 14.) This would
indicate that he has been injured by the removal of those results from view. However,
his Motion asks to have the website returned to the very state of which he complains.
Not only does this request seem contradictory to his claims in the Amended
Complaint, but it is, as best the Court can determine, only tangentially related to the
claims therein relating to the 2006 election results, namely: (1) his claim that
removing the 2006 election results was unlawful, and (2) his claim that the 2006
election results were themselves fraudulent.
Any request for a preliminary injunction must necessarily be tied to the plaintiff's
claims. See De Beers Consol. Mines v. United States, 325 U.S. 212, 220 (1945) (“A
preliminary injunction is always appropriate to grant intermediate relief of the same
character as that which may be granted finally.” ); Devose v. Herrington, 42 F.3d 470,
471 (8th Cir. 1994) (“[A] party moving for a preliminary injunction must necessarily
establish a relationship between the injury claimed in the party's motion and the
conduct asserted in the complaint.”). Thus, if the request in the Motion is unrelated
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to the claims in the Amended Complaint, that alone would be grounds to deny the
Motion. But, given the lack of clarity and the need to construe pro se filings broadly,
the Court has conducted the above analysis under the preliminary injunction
For the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES Mr. Pullins's Motion (ECF No. 12)
PIERRE Q. PULLINS
6120 Westlake Dr. N
Indianapolis, IN 46224
Courtney Lyn Abshire
INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
Parvinder Kaur Nijjar
INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
Andrew J. Upchurch
OFFICE OF CORPORATION COUNSEL
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