United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
D. PETERSON District Judge.
Dessie Lonas, a Wisconsin Department of Corrections prisoner
housed at the Oshkosh Correctional Institution, filed
documents styled as civil complaints in each of these four
cases. In a January 20, 2017 order, I dismissed Lonas's
complaint in the '752 case (about mistreatment of a
broken nose and hernia) because he did not name as a
defendant any individual who failed to properly treat him.
Dkt. 21 in the '752 case. I gave him a short deadline to
amend his complaint to explain who violated his rights and to
name those persons as defendants. The court later extended
his deadline to March 13, 2017.
three other complaints all concerned his 2008 Brown County
conviction for repeated sexual assault of a child. Lonas
sought to vacate his conviction and receive a new trial, a
declaration that the repeated-sexual-assault-of-a-child
criminal statute is unconstitutional, and criminal charges to
be brought against officials involved in prosecuting him. I
dismissed all three of these cases in a January 20, 2017
order, because I could not grant the type of relief he sought
in civil rights lawsuits brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Dkt. 16 in the '780 case. In particular, I could not
issue an order vacating his conviction. And under Seventh
Circuit precedent, I would not convert his cases into a
petition for writ of habeas corpus. I denied Lonas's
motion for reconsideration in a February 2 order. Dkt. 23 in
the '780 case. In doing so, I noted that the appropriate
place to file his habeas petition was most likely the
District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, because
that is the district in which he was sentenced and in which
he is currently incarcerated.
has now filed a series of letters addressing each of his
cases. With regard to the '752 case, he initially asked
for an extension of time to file his amended complaint, but
he now appears to be satisfied with the extension he
received. He states that prison officials are refusing to
give him medical records that might help him understand
exactly who violated his rights. But he should not need
medical records at this point. As I previously explained to
him, he does not need to amend his complaint to include the
actual names of prison officials who harmed him. If Lonas
does not know the identity of particular defendants, he may
label them as John Doe #1, John Doe #2, and so on, and the
court has procedures by which he may make discovery requests
to identify those defendants.
also asks whether he is required to file an “ICE
complaint” about his medical treatment before he can
pursue his lawsuit. Prisoners are generally required to
exhaust internal prison administrative remedies before filing
a lawsuit about mistreatment. See 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(a) (“No action shall be brought with respect to
prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any
other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail,
prison, or other correctional facility until such
administrative remedies as are available are
exhausted.”). But I cannot give Lonas detailed legal
advice about his situation. I encourage him to attempt
resolving his problems using the internal grievance process
if he has not already done so, but it is up to him to decide
whether he wishes to continue litigating the '752 case.
regard to his other three cases, Lonas continues to argue
that this court could vacate his conviction or order the
release of evidence showing his innocence. He also suggests
that his mail is being tampered with, and that he has been
threatened with harm if he files documents to the courts in
general and the Eastern District in particular. Because one
of Lonas's letters asks to change my previous orders in
his three cases concerning his conviction, I will construe
that letter as a motion for reconsideration and deny it. As I
explained before, I cannot take any action on his current
allegations. He needs to file either a formal petition for
writ of habeas corpus in federal court, or a postconviction
motion in state court. His allegations that he is being
threatened or that his mail is being tampered with are
perhaps the basis for a new lawsuit, but only after he raises
these problems internally to prison officials. Once Lonas has
an active habeas case, he should raise his concerns to the
court hearing that case.
point, Lonas should understand the choices he needs to make.
He has a March 13 deadline for filing his amended complaint
in the '752 case. The '780, '790, and '791
cases will remain closed. Any further letters or motions for
reconsideration in those cases will be deemed dismissed upon
filing unless the court informs Lonas that it is taking other
action. It is up to him to decide whether he wishes to file a
habeas petition about his conviction.
ORDERED that plaintiff Dessie Lonas's motion for
reconsideration, Dkt. 24 in case ...