United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
WILLIAM M. CONLEY DISTRICT JUDGE.
Nicholas Felella brings this proposed civil action under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that various public entities
involved in his 2016 criminal proceedings in Portage and
Stevens Point counties, violated numerous state and federal
rights. Having been permitted to proceed in forma
pauperis, Felella's complaint requires screening. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). For the reason explained below,
however, the court concludes that it must dismiss some of his
claims pursuant to Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477,
486-87 (1994), and that his remaining claim is subject to
OF FACT 
Nicholas Felella currently lives in Plover, Wisconsin, but he
was incarcerated at the Portage County Jail when he filed
this lawsuit. Defendants include Portage County, the Stevens
Point Police Department, the Portage County Sheriff's
Department, the Stevens Point District Attorney's Office,
and the Stevens Point Public Defender's office.
complaint, Felella outlines circumstances in July of 2016
that led up to his arrest and charges he claims violated his
rights. In particular, he claims that on July 1, 2016, he was
driving, suffered from a seizure and passed out. He was
awakened by an officer, refused medical treatment and was
arrested. Days later, after he was released on bail, Felella
learned that that he was being charged with his fifth
violation of operating while intoxicated. While that charge
was pending, he suffered a seizure and his family called an
ambulance to his home. Apparently police arrived at his home
as well, which led to his arrest when an officer saw drug
paraphernalia in his home. Felella claims that he was never
informed that he was being arrested, nor was he read his
rights. He was initially taken to a hospital, but when a
doctor released him, he was brought to the Stevens Point
point he asked an officer at the jail what his bond would be,
and the officer responded that he would have to wait to see a
judge. At some later time, a judge placed a $2, 000 bond on
him. Ultimately Felella was charged with disorderly conduct,
domestic abuse, bail jumping, possession of cocaine and
possession of drug paraphernalia. See State v.
Felella, No. 2016CF286 (Portage County Cir. Ct. July 12,
2016). Felella pled guilty to the bail jumping and possession
of cocaine charges, and the prosecutor dismissed the
remaining charges pursuant to a plea agreement. On January 5,
2018, Felella was sentenced to probation.
seeks to proceed on numerous constitutional claims,
challenging his 2016 arrest and convictions, as well as the
time he spent in jail. However, may not proceed on any of
these claims as currently pled.
initial matter, to the extent plaintiff is challenging the
validity of his arrest and criminal convictions, such claims
are barred by the United States Supreme Court's decision
in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994). As
explained in Heck, a plaintiff is precluded from
bringing claims for damages if a judgment in favor of the
plaintiff would “necessarily imply the invalidity of
his [state criminal] conviction or sentence.”
Id. This bar applies unless the underlying
conviction or sentence is been “reversed on direct
appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a
state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or
called into question by a federal court's issuance of a
writ of habeas corpus.” Id. at 486-87. Given
that nothing in plaintiff's pleadings or the publicly
available information suggests his convictions have been
invalidated or called into question, his challenge to the
circumstances surrounding his arrest and convictions is
barred. If Felella is successful in invalidating his
conviction, he may refile his claims challenging his
convictions. For now, the court is dismissing those claims
without prejudice. See Polzin v. Gage, 636 F.3d 834,
839 (7th Cir. 2011). If Felella does refile these claims, he
should be aware that any claim against prosecutor from the
Stevens Point District Attorney's Office would be barred,
since “in initiating a prosecution and in presenting
the State's case, the prosecutor is immune from civil
suit for damages under § 1983, ” Imbler v.
Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 431 (1976).
while Felella also challenges the circumstances surrounding
the time he spent in jail before he went before a judge,
these allegations do not satisfy the requirements under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, which requires a
“‘short and plain statement of the claim'
sufficient to notify the defendants of the allegations
against them and enable them to file an answer.”
Marshall v. Knight, 445 F.3d 965, 968 (7th Cir.
2006). Dismissal is proper “if the complaint fails to
set forth ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face.'” St. John's
United Church of Christ v. City of Chi., 502 F.3d 616,
625 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
assertion that his time in jail violated his constitutional
rights is too conclusory and lacking in detail to support any
constitutional claim. The Fourth Amendment requires “a
fair and reliable determination of probable cause as a
condition for any significant pretrial restraint of liberty .
. . promptly after arrest.” County of Riverside v.
McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44, 52 (1991) (quoting Gerstein
v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 125 (1975)). Judicial
determinations of probable cause made more than 48 hours
after arrest are not “prompt.” Id. at
56. Yet plaintiff has failed to allege any details about how
long he waited to be seen by a judge. As such, he not pled
facts sufficient to support a Fourth Amendment claim.
out of deference to plaintiff's pro se status,
before dismissing plaintiff's claim related to his time
spent in jail before he saw a judge, the court will give
plaintiff the opportunity to amend his complaint to include
more specific information about the length of the delay. If
plaintiff submits a proposed amended complaint no later than
April 5, 2019, the court will take it under
advisement for screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2). In preparing his amended complaint, plaintiff
should draft it as if he is telling a story to someone who
knows nothing about his situation. This means that he should
explain: (1) what happened to make him believe he has a legal
claim; (2) when it happened; (3) who did it; (4) why; and (5)
how the court can assist him in relation to those events.
Plaintiff should set forth his allegations in separate,
numbered paragraphs using short and plain statements. After
he finishes drafting his amended complaint, he should review
it and consider whether it could be understood by someone who
is not familiar with the facts of his case. If not, he should
make necessary changes.