Submitted March 27, 2017 [*]
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Nos. l:13-cv-06528
& 08 C 3054 - John Robert Blakey & Thomas M. Durkin,
Posner, Sykes, and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.
HAMILTON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
consolidated for decision two cases in which the district
judges and volunteer lawyers generously gave uncooperative
plaintiffs every opportunity to pursue their claims. In both
cases the plaintiffs responded with further failures to
cooperate with orderly litigation. After showing more
patience than necessary, the district judges dismissed both
cases for failure to prosecute. We affirm both eminently
and Procedural Background
begin by describing Cedric Dupree's lawsuit. Dupree sued
Illinois prison staff under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
allegedly prolonging his incarceration. Proceedings were
protracted, primarily because Dupree, who had been in and out
of jail, dropped out of contact with the district court and
the lawyer the court had recruited on his behalf. Early in
the proceedings, in October 2014, Judge Leinenweber granted
Dupree's request for a lawyer and recruited Robert
Sweeney to represent him.
case was reassigned to Judge Blakey and in February 2015, the
parties filed a joint status report. Sweeney reported that he
had been attempting to contact Dupree to prepare an amended
complaint, "but to date there has been no contact."
According to the report, Dupree was seeking damages for
"a series of deprivations of his rights, most notably,
being held beyond the time he should have been
released." Judge Blakey referred the case to Magistrate
Judge Valdez to conduct a settlement conference.
series of status hearings followed. At a hearing in April
2015, attorney Sweeney could not attend, but "Defense
counsel.. . reported on Sweeney's behalf that he had been
unable to make any contact with [Dupree], who was no longer
incarcerated." Magistrate Judge Valdez ordered Dupree to
appear personally at a status hearing the following month. He
failed to appear. Judge Valdez continued the hearing to July
and ordered Dupree to appear at the next hearing with the
warning that if he did not, "this matter may be
dismissed for want of prosecution." Sweeney was present
for the July hearing but Dupree again failed to appear.
(Sweeney informed the judge that he had personally mailed the
order to Dupree's last known address and left him
multiple voicemails but still had not received any response.)
Valdez issued a report recommending that the case be
dismissed for want of prosecution. She explained that Dupree
had failed to communicate with his lawyer "in any
way" and that his "repeated failure to obey court
orders to appear demonstrate to this court's satisfaction
that he lacks any intent to prosecute this case." She
warned Dupree that he had 14 days to file objections to her
report and recommendation. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). No
objection followed, and Judge Blakey dismissed the case.
Adopting the magistrate judge's report and
recommendation, Judge Blakey agreed that Dupree
"persistently failed to appear in court, even when
specifically ordered to do so."
months later, Dupree moved to reinstate the case, asserting
that he had been released only recently after a yearlong
incarceration. He stated that he had been rearrested in
November 2014, about a month after his counsel had been
recruited; that counsel falsely told the court that he had
not been incarcerated; and that he had written to the
court's clerk to inform the court that he was
incarcerated. The district court scheduled a hearing and
directed Dupree to "be prepared . . . to advise the
Court of any information concerning [his] November 2014
then missed that hearing too. Judge Blakey waited until the
end of his motion call and called the case again. Dupree
still had not appeared. Not receiving any word from Dupree,
the judge denied the motion. Dupree arrived fifteen minutes
after the court had concluded its motion call. He promptly
filed a motion to reconsider, saying that he had been late
because of traffic. The judge reiterated that Dupree had been
late and declined to reconsider his earlier ruling.
turn to Schneider's suit, which also asserts a claim that
the defendants violated his constitutional rights by
detaining him for too long. Schneider's case has also
been protracted. We have considered Schneider's case
twice before, ruling both times that some of the claims could
proceed. See Schneider v. County of Will, 366
F.App'x 683, 684 (7th Cir. 2010); Schneider v. County
of Will, 528 F.App'x 590, 591 (7th Cir. 2013).
the course of the case, Schneider has tried repeatedly to
disqualify the defendants' counsel. Nine times he asked
the district court to disqualify the defendants'
attorneys or to treat the county as if it had not appeared.
He argued that the Will County State's Attorney did not
comply with Illinois law when he appointed two private
attorneys to defend the county in this suit. The district
court denied each request. Schneider also filed an