United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge
Terrance Mineau, who is incarcerated at Waupun Correctional
Institution, filed a pro se complaint under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his civil rights were
violated. This matter comes before the court on the
plaintiff's petition for leave to proceed without
prepaying the full filing fee.
is required to pay the $350.00 statutory filing fee for this
action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). If a
prisoner does not have the money to pay the filing fee, he
can request leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
Plaintiff has filed a certified copy of his prison trust
account statement for the six-month period immediately
preceding the filing fee of his complaint, as required under
28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2), and has been assessed and paid
an initial partial filing fee of $1.41. Plaintiff's
motion to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted.
court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the
prisoner has raised claims that are legally “frivolous
or malicious, ” that fail to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b). A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an
arguable basis either in law or in fact. Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Hutchinson ex
rel. Baker v. Spink, 126 F.3d 895, 900 (7th Cir. 1997).
state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading
system, the plaintiff is required to provide a “short
and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The
complaint must contain sufficient factual matter “that
is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 570). The court accepts the factual allegations as true
and liberally construes them in the plaintiff's favor.
Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d 645, 651 (7th Cir.
2013). Nevertheless, the complaint's allegations
“must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555
complaint arises from an ultimately denied motion to recuse
that Mineau filed with Judge McGinnis in his Wisconsin
criminal case 2012-CF-773. Mineau alleges that he filed a
motion for recusal with Judge McGinnis and that at the final
conference hearing for that case Judge McGinnis stated that
he referred the motion for recusal to Jeremiah Van Hecke, the
executive director of the Wisconsin Judicial
Commission. Van Hecke responded to Judge
McGinnis's referral. Judge McGinnis subsequently denied
Mineau's motion for recusal. Mineau alleges that the
communication between Judge McGinnis and Van Hecke “led
directly to [his] current conviction.” ECF No. 1 at 3.
Mineau alleges that prior to the denial of his motion to
recuse, he filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Judicial
Commission alleging improper and prejudicial comments by
Judge McGinnis. Mineau states that the Commission denied his
claims on June 29, 2017. As relief, Mineau demands
“monetary damages for using confidential information,
which led up to my conviction of 8 years.” Id.
at 5. Mineau argues that this was a violation of his due
plaintiff has provided no arguable basis for relief, having
failed to make any rational argument in law or fact to
support his claims. See House v. Belford, 956 F.2d
711, 720 (7th Cir. 1992) (quoting Williams v.
Faulkner, 837 F.2d 304, 308 (7th Cir. 1988),
aff'd sub nom. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319
(1989)). Reading Mineau's complaint liberally, as I must
do at this stage of the proceedings, he seeks to bring a
claim for violation of his constitutional due process rights
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the denial of his motion for
Mineau's entire complaint is barred by the doctrine of
Heck v. Humphries, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). Under
Heck, a “convicted criminal who brings a civil
rights suit that if successful would demonstrate the
invalidity of his conviction must show that the
conviction has been invalidated.” Id. at 487
(emphasis added); see also McCurdy v. Sheriff of Madison
Cty., 128 F.3d 1144 (7th Cir. 1997). However, Mineau has
not alleged that his conviction has been
invalidated.Because Mineau's success in this case
would implicitly invalidate his state court conviction, he
cannot proceed unless he shows that his conviction has
already been invalidated.
even if Mineau's claims were not barred by the
Heck doctrine, Mineau fails to state a claim against
any of the defendants. See Polzin v. Gage, 636 F.3d
834, 83738 (7th Cir. 2011) (holding that a district court may
bypass Heck and address the merits of the case).
Mineau cannot bring a claim against Judge McGinnis for the
results of his criminal conviction. Judicial immunity
provides judges absolute immunity from their judicial acts,
even if they act maliciously or corruptly. Mireles v.
Waco, 502 U.S. 9 (1991). This immunity is not for the
protection or benefit of a corrupt or malicious judge, but
rather for the benefit of the public, which has as interest
in having a judiciary that is free to exercise its judicial
functions without the fear of harassment by unsatisfied
litigants. Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 554 (1967).
Therefore, Judge McGinnis has absolute judicial immunity for
the judicial actions he took and his ultimate decision in the
denial of Mineau's motion for recusal.
any claim against Van Hecke for his investigation of
Mineau's complaint about Judge McGinnis is also protected
by quasi-judicial immunity. See Tocholke v. Wagner,
No. 07-C-0831, 2008 WL 302369, at *3 (E.D. Wis. 2008) (citing
Kissell v. Breskow, 579 F.2d 425, 430 (7th Cir.
1978)) (explaining that the executive director of the
Wisconsin Judicial Commission has quasi-judicial immunity for
his investigations into attorneys and judges). Likewise, any
claim against Van Hecke for information he sent to Judge
McGinnis in response to Judge McGinnis's referral of
Mineau's motion for recusal is protected by
quasi-judicial immunity. Id.
Mineau cannot bring a claim against the Wisconsin Judicial
Commission because it is a state agency and not a
“person” within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. §
1983 and is otherwise entitled to Eleventh Amendment
immunity. See Will v. Mich. Dep't. of State
Police, 491 U.S. 58 (1989); see also Thomas v.
Illinois, 697 F.3d 612, 61314 (7th Cir. 2013).
IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the plaintiff's motion
for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2)
IS FURTHER ORDERED that this action is
DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b)(1) for failure to state a claim
and as frivolous. See Moore v. Pemberton, 110 F.3d
22, 24 (7th Cir. 1997) (explaining that a complaint ...