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Brown v. City of Milwaukee

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

October 26, 2017

ENNIS LEE BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF MILWAUKEE, MILWAUKEE POLICE DEPARTMENT, NICHOLAS JOHNSON, CHIEF EDWARD FLYNN, MILWAUKEE COUNTY, MILWAUKEE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY JOHN CHISHOLM, MILWAUKEE COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY SARA B. HILL LEWIS, DETECTIVE KEVIN ARMBRUSTER, AND DETECTIVE RODNEY YOUNG, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF THE FILING FEE (DKT. NO. 2) AND SCREENING COMPLAINT UNDER 28 U.S.C. §1915A

          HON. PAMELA PEPPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The plaintiff, a Wisconsin state prisoner who is representing himself, filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983, dkt. no. 1, along with a motion for leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee, dkt. no. 2. This order resolves his motion and screens his complaint.

         I. Motion for Leave to Proceed without Prepayment of the Filing Fee

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) applies to this case because the plaintiff is incarcerated. 28 U.S.C. §1915. The PLRA allows a court to give an incarcerated plaintiff the ability to proceed with his lawsuit without prepaying the case filing fee, as long as he meets certain conditions. One of those conditions is that the plaintiff must pay an initial partial filing fee. 28 U.S.C. §1915(b).

         On April 5, 2017, the court ordered the plaintiff to pay an initial partial filing fee of $7.88. Dkt. No. 5. The plaintiff paid $7.90 on April 11, 2017. Accordingly, the court will grant the plaintiff's motion. The court will require the plaintiff to pay the remainder of the filing fee over time as explained at the end of this decision.

         II. Screening the Plaintiff's Complaint

         The law requires the court 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 if the plaintiff raises 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).

         To state a claim, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, “that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows a court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         To proceed under 42 U.S.C. §1983, a plaintiff must allege that: 1) he was deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and 2) the defendant was acting under color of state law. Buchanan-Moore v. County of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Kramer v. Village of North Fond du Lac, 384 F.3d 856, 861 (7th Cir. 2004)); see also Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). The court gives a pro se plaintiff's allegations, “however inartfully pleaded, ” a liberal construction. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).

         A. The Plaintiff's Allegations

         The plaintiff alleges that on July 26, 2012, at 2:05 a.m., defendant City of Milwaukee Police Officer Nicholas Johnson knocked on the door of his home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Dkt. No. 1 at 2. When the plaintiff answered the door, Officer Johnson entered the home and asked the plaintiff if he was Ennis Brown. Id. The plaintiff admitted that he was Ennis Brown. Id. Officer Johnson, who didn't have a warrant, arrested the plaintiff and transported him to the “city jail.” Id. at 2-3, 4. The plaintiff was held at the jail for over six hours, during which time he didn't know why he had been arrested. Id. at 4.

         While at the jail, defendant Detective Kevin Armbruster questioned the plaintiff for about an hour and forty-five minutes. Id. The plaintiff still didn't know what he had been charged with, and a warrant had not been issued for his arrest. Id. After the questioning, the plaintiff was returned to the jail cell. Id. About eight hours later, defendant Detective Rodney Young questioned the plaintiff for over an hour. Id. At that time, there still was no warrant or probable cause. Id. During the questioning from both Armbruster and Young, the plaintiff demanded an attorney. Id.

         The morning of July 27, 2012, the plaintiff was moved to the Milwaukee County Jail. Id. He did not get a probable cause hearing until July 31, 2012 (five days after he was taken to the jail). Id.

         Defendant District Attorney John Chisholm signed the complaint “by proxy of” defendant Assistant District Attorney Sara B. Hill (formerly Lewis). Id. On July 31, 2012, after she became aware that the plaintiff had been held in jail for more than forty-eight hours without a probable cause hearing, Attorney Hill issued several “five day not processes” with the jail. Id. ...


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