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Mannery v. Milwaukee County

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

December 21, 2017

JOHN MANNERY, Plaintiff,


          William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge.

         Plaintiff John Mannery, a Wisconsin state prisoner who is representing himself, filed a complaint alleging that the defendants violated his civil rights. This case was originally assigned to U.S. Magistrate William E. Duffin and not all parties have had the opportunity to consent to magistrate judge jurisdiction. Therefore, this case was randomly reassigned to this U.S. District Court judge for screening of the complaint.


         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) applies to this case because plaintiff was incarcerated when he filed his complaint. The PLRA allows prisoners to proceed with their lawsuits without prepaying the $350 filing fee, as long as they comply with certain requirements. 28 U.S.C. §1915. One of those requirements is that the prisoner pay an initial partial filing fee.

         On November 20, 2017, Judge Duffin ordered plaintiff to pay an initial partial filing fee of $1.33. ECF No. 10. Plaintiff paid $3.00 on December 1, 2017. Therefore, the Court will grant plaintiff's motion to proceed without prepayment of the full filing fee.


         The PLRA requires federal courts to screen complaints brought by an incarcerated plaintiff who seeks relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court can dismiss an action or portion thereof if the claims alleged are “frivolous or malicious, ” fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         To state a claim under the federal notice pleading system, plaintiff must 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 need not plead specific facts, and need only provide “fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). “Labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” will not do. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         The factual content of the complaint must allow the court to “draw the reasonable inference that defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Allegations must “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual allegations, when accepted as true, must state a claim that is “plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Federal courts follow the two step analysis set forth in Twombly to determine whether a complaint states a claim. Id. at 679. First, the court determines whether plaintiff's legal conclusions are supported by factual allegations. Id. Legal conclusions not supported by facts “are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. Second, the court determines whether the well-pleaded factual allegations “plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id. Courts give pro se 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)).

         1. Allegations in the Complaint

         Plaintiff states that Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Jeffery Conan “misused his power” during the plaintiff's criminal trial. ECF No. 1 at 2. Plaintiff does not explain what Judge Conan said or did to “misuse his power” but Judge Conan allegedly admitted to doing so during a “heated conversation” at plaintiff's sentencing. Id. at 3. At sentencing, plaintiff stated “you sabotaged my case from the beginning, ” and Judge Conan replied “You're right. I did.” Id. at 3. When the plaintiff stated that he hoped that “this is being recorded, ” Judge Conan stated “I didn't mean to say that.” Id. The plaintiff believes that Judge Conan was “bias and impartial.” Id. He seeks monetary damages and asks that the judge be investigated. Id. at 4.

         2. The Court's Analysis

         Judges are entitled to absolute immunity for their judicial conduct unless they acted in the absence of all jurisdiction. See Polzin v. Gage, 636 F.3d 834, 838 (7th Cir. 2011). Judicial immunity serves as a device for “discouraging collateral attacks” and to “establish appellate procedures as the standard system for correcting judicial error.” Forrester v. White, 484 U.S. 219, 225 (1988). It also “protect[s] judicial independence by insulating judges from vexatious actions prosecuted by disgruntled litigants.” Id. A state court trial judge has jurisdiction over a defendant during a criminal trial and sentencing. See Polzin, 636 F.3d at 838. Thus, Judge Conan is absolutely immune for his judicial conduct ...

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