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Cannon v. Dean Newport

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

June 22, 2017

BILLY CANNON, Plaintiff,
v.
DEAN NEWPORT, Defendant.

          DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DKT. NO. 33), DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DKT. NO. 39), AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO SUPPLEMENT PLEADINGS (DKT. NO. 62)

          HON. PAMELA PEPPER, United States District Judge

         The plaintiff, who is representing himself, filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging that the defendant had violated his constitutional rights. On November 14, 2016, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. Dkt. No. 33. That same day, the plaintiff filed his own motion for summary judgment. Dkt. No. 39. For the reasons discussed below, the court will grant the defendant's motion and deny the plaintiff's motion.

         I. RELEVANT FACTS[1]

         On March 15, 2016, the court issued a screening order, allowing the plaintiff to proceed on only one claim: a “First Amendment retaliation claim against Dean Newport.” Dkt. No. 8 at 9. That claim relates to the plaintiff's allegation that the defendant retaliated against him when the defendant orchestrated a search of the plaintiff's cell and seized the plaintiff's legal records, after learning that the plaintiff had attempted to initiate a John Doe investigation against him in state court. Both parties provided the court with a good deal of information that is irrelevant to that claim; the court recounts below only those facts relevant to that claim.

         In 2008, defendant Milwaukee Police Officer Dean Newport was assigned to a joint task force involving the Milwaukee Police Department and the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Dkt. No. 34 at ¶1. In 2011, the defendant was deputized as a federal task force officer with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. Id. at ¶13.

         Information obtained by the task force led the task force to the plaintiff. Id. at ¶4. On March 20, 2009, the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office filed a complaint against the plaintiff. State v. Cannon, Case No. 2009CF001337, available at https://wcca/wicourts.gov, id. at ¶5 (“the 2009 case”). The case was assigned to Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Michael Guolee. Id. at ¶6.

         On February 24, 2011, while the 2009 case was pending, the District Attorney's Office filed another compliant against the defendant. State v. Cannon, Case No. 2011CF000924, available at https://wcca/wicourts.gov (“the 2011 case”). This case, too, was assigned to Judge Guolee. Id. at ¶8. Both cases resulted from the work of the joint task force. Id. at ¶9. The defendant indicates that because the 2011 case involved wiretap evidence, Judge Guolee ordered the record sealed at the outset of the case. Id. at ¶12.

         Sometime during the pendency of the 2009 case, the plaintiff began a sexual relationship with Judge Guolee's court clerk, Tammy Baldwin. Id. at ¶14. Ms. Baldwin had access to the court's files for both the 2009 and 2011 cases, including documents that had been filed under seal. Id. at ¶15.

         On March 23, 2012, the plaintiff entered a guilty plea in the 2009 case. Id. at ¶16. Judge Guolee sentenced the plaintiff to a two-year term of confinement, followed by a two-year term of extended supervision. Id. at ¶17. In July 2012, the 2011 case was reassigned to another Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge. Id. at ¶18.

         The defendant states that on October 3, 2012, the plaintiff sent four documents, under a cover letter, to Milwaukee County Circuit Court Chief Judge Jeffrey Kremers. Id. at ¶19. The first document, which bore no case number, was titled, “Notice of and Petitioner [sic] Seeking Secret ‘John Doe' Investigation against Local Official Judge for Misconduct While Serving in Public Office.” Id. at ¶20. The second document, which bore the caption of the 2009 case, was titled, “Petition for a ‘John Doe' Investigation.” Id. at ¶¶22, 23. In this document, the plaintiff argued that the court should vacate the sentence imposed in the 2009 case.[2] Id. at ¶24. The plaintiff alleged that he and Judge Guolee both had been engaged in a sexual relationship with Ms. Baldwin, and that Judge Guolee had imposed the sentence out of jealousy. Id. at ¶25. The document also contained twenty exhibits-copies of letters and envelopes sent between the plaintiff and Ms. Baldwin. Id. at ¶¶26, 27. The letters evidenced a close, sexual relationship between the two, and demonstrated that Ms. Baldwin had been passing information from the court's chambers to the plaintiff. Id. at ¶¶27, 28.

         The third document, which bore the caption of the 2011 case, was titled “Petition Seeking Secret John Doe Against Six Named Officials For Criminal Acts and Other Misconduct and Conspiracy While Serving as Law Officials and Officers of the Court.” Id. at ¶¶29, 30. This document asserted that the defendant and others had violated the plaintiff's civil rights during their criminal investigation. Id. at ¶31.

         The final document, which bore the caption of the 2009 case, was titled “Notice of Motion and Motion to Vacate Sentence.” Id. at ¶¶32, 33. This motion repeated the plaintiff's allegations regarding his and Judge Guolee's rival relationship with Ms. Baldwin. Id. at ¶34. The motion did not mention the defendant, and it did not refer to a John Doe investigation. Id. at ¶35. Because the document was not marked confidential, the Milwaukee County Clerk's Office docketed it on October 5, 2012[3], docketing it in the 2009 case in accordance with its caption. Id. at ¶36; see State v. Cannon, Case No. 2009CF001337, available at https://wcca.wicourts.gov. dkt. entries 44-46.

         The plaintiff argues that he did not intend for the Clerk's Office to docket the motion to vacate; he wanted the motion to be kept confidential. Dkt. No. 56 at ¶¶33, 35, 36.

         As a result of the plaintiff's motion to vacate, the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office and the Milwaukee County Clerk's Office opened investigations. Dkt. No. 34 at ¶37. The District Attorney's Office was concerned that Ms. Baldwin may have disclosed confidential, sealed documents to the plaintiff, including documents that ...


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