United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
ORDER SCREENING AMENDED COMPLAINT (DKT. NO. 10) UNDER
28 U.S.C. §1915A AND DISMISSING ONE DEFENDANT
PAMELA PEPPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Antonio Darnell Mays, an inmate at the Green Bay Correctional
Institution who is representing himself, filed a complaint
under 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging that the defendants
violated his civil rights. On July 18, 2019, the court
granted the plaintiff's motion to proceed without
prepaying the filing fee and screened the complaint. Dkt. No.
9. The court dismissed three defendants but allowed the
plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant
Tracy Johnson to proceed. Id. at 9-10. On September
16, 2019, the defendant answered the complaint. Dkt. No. 12.
Almost two months earlier, however, on July 24, 2019, the
plaintiff filed an amended complaint against Johnson and a
second defendant, Vince Varone, who had not been named as a
defendant in the original complaint. Dkt. No. 10.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1) allows a party to amend his pleading
one time without the court's permission, if he does so
within twenty-one days of the day he serves the complaint or
within twenty-one days after the defendant answers. Because
the plaintiff filed his amended complaint before defendant
Johnson answered the original complaint, the court will
screen the amended complaint.
Federal Screening Standard
court explained in its original screening order, 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). 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)).
The Plaintiff's Allegations
amended complaint, the plaintiff has sued his probation
agent, Tracy Johnson, and has added Administrative Law Judge
Vince Varone. Dkt. No. 10 at 1, 3.
plaintiff alleges that Johnson violated a temporary
restraining order and his rights under the Eighth Amendment
by “having [him] arrested on the (violations) [he] had
already ‘Beaten' even though ‘she knew that
[he] had not been founded [sic] to have committed those
violations' and that [he] had not committed any (new
violations).” Id. at 2. The amended complaint
alleges that on November 7, 2018, Johnson recommended
revocation of the plaintiff's extended supervision using
the same allegations that had failed to result in a
revocation at the June 20, 2018 revocation hearing or on
appeal on July 27, 2018. Id. at 3. The plaintiff
alleges that on December 5, 2018, he had a second revocation
hearing based on those same allegations, but this time ALJ
Vince Varone “made a decision” to revoke him
“after [he] already beat these same (4 allegations)
[he] was not found guilty on, on (June 20, 2018) . . .
.” Id. The plaintiff alleges that Varone knew
that he had not violated any “new rules, ” and
that Varone knew that a revocation hearing on the same
violations had taken place months earlier. Id. Yet,
the plaintiff says, Varone still held a second revocation
hearing. Id. The plaintiff seeks $500, 000 in
damages. Id. at 4.
The Court's Analysis
his initial complaint, the plaintiff alleges that Johnson
caused him to be arrested on violations that she knew he
previously had “beaten.” For the reasons
discussed in the court's previous order, the court will
allow the plaintiff to proceed on an Eighth Amendment claim
amended complaint does not state a claim against the
administrative law judge, Varone. “[T]he absolute
immunity enjoyed by judges for judicial actions taken in
accordance with their jurisdictional authority extends to
other officials, including ALJs, when they perform functions
that are ‘closely associated with the judicial
process.'” Smith v. Gomez, 550 F.3d 613,
619 (7th Cir. 2008) (quoting Cleavinger v. Saxner,
474 U.S. 193, 200 (1985); Forrester v. White, 484
U.S. 219, 225 (1988); Dawson v. Newman, 419 F.3d
656, 662 (7th Cir. 2005)). Answering the question of whether
the judge's actions are “closely associated with
the judicial process” involves a
“functional” analysis. Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 810-11 (1982). The
“touchstone” for whether judicial conduct is
protected by absolute immunity is whether it involves
“performance of the function of resolving disputes
between parties, or of authoritatively adjudicating private
rights.” Antoine v. Byers & Anderson,
Inc., 508 U.S. 429, 435-36 (1993).
to hold a revocation hearing and deciding to revoke the
plaintiff's extended supervision were actions taken
within the scope of the ALJ's judicial function. Those
decisions involved the exercise of discretion or judgment,
they are normally performed by a judge, and the parties to
the revocation proceedings “dealt with the judge as
judge.” Dawson v. Newman, 419 F.3d 656, 661
(7th Cir. 2005). Judicial immunity bars the plaintiff's
claim against Varone.
the plaintiff does not allege that he has successfully
appealed or otherwise succeeded in having his revocation
overturned, his claim against Varone also is barred under
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). In
Heck, the Supreme Court held “that a section
1983 suit can't be brought if a judgment in favor of the
plaintiff would imply that his conviction in a prior
proceeding had been invalid.” Rollins v.
Willett, 770 F.3d 575, 576 (7th Cir. 2014) (citing
Heck). “Heck applies to both a
prisoner's original sentence and to reimprisonment upon
revocation of parole.” Easterling v.
Siarnicki, 435 Fed.Appx. 524, 526 (7th Cir. 2011)
(citing Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 81- 82
(2005)). The court understands that the plaintiff disagrees
with Varone's decision to revoke him, but the procedure
for him to express that disagreement would have been to
appeal the revocation and/or file a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus, not to sue Varone for damages in a
civil tort case. See Heck, 512 U.S. at 481 (citing
Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 488-90 (1973)).
court will dismiss ...