ILNews

Judge dismisses prisoner suit

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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A federal judge in Fort Wayne has dismissed a pro se complaint against a local sheriff and jail officials because it doesn't adequately state a claim to recover for alleged sexual harassment during a weapons strip search.

U.S. District Judge Philip Simon ruled in Nathan W. Romine v. Nick Yoder, et al., No. 1:08-CV-036 PS, which involved a suit from an Adams County Law Enforcement Center inmate. Romine said he was sexually harassed at the jail during a strip search for a razor blade but didn't make accusations that he was improperly touched or that the search wasn't proper.

The complaint claimed a guard snickered during the search and made "unnecessary, sexual comments" about his genitals.

In his decision, Judge Simon relied on caselaw changes in the past year from the Supreme Court of the United States to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. He relied on Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007), and Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197 (2007), that dealt with pleading standards - Twombly held that factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above speculation, while Erickson held in the context of pro se suits that complaints must be liberally construed and held to less stringent standards than those where attorneys are involved.

Interpreting those two SCOTUS rulings, the 7th Circuit in August read those two cases together in Airborne Beepers & Video Inc v. AT&T Mobility, 499 F.3d 6663 (7th Cir. 2007), to mean that "at some point, the factual detail in a complaint may be so sketchy that the complaint does not provide the type of notice of the claim to which defendant is entitled."

Judge Simon determined that Romine didn't state a claim and that fear of an injury that didn't occur doesn't state a claim.
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  1. File under the Sociology of Hoosier Discipline ... “We will be answering the complaint in due course and defending against the commission’s allegations,” said Indianapolis attorney Don Lundberg, who’s representing Hudson in her disciplinary case. FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW ... Lundberg ran the statist attorney disciplinary machinery in Indy for decades, and is now the "go to guy" for those who can afford him .... the ultimate insider for the well-to-do and/or connected who find themselves in the crosshairs. It would appear that this former prosecutor knows how the game is played in Circle City ... and is sacrificing accordingly. See more on that here ... http://www.theindianalawyer.com/supreme-court-reprimands-attorney-for-falsifying-hours-worked/PARAMS/article/43757 Legal sociologists could have a field day here ... I wonder why such things are never studied? Is a sacrifice to the well connected former regulators a de facto bribe? Such questions, if probed, could bring about a more just world, a more equal playing field, less Stalinist governance. All of the things that our preambles tell us to value could be advanced if only sunshine reached into such dark worlds. As a great jurist once wrote: "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman." Other People's Money—and How Bankers Use It (1914). Ah, but I am certifiable, according to the Indiana authorities, according to the ISC it can be read, for believing such trite things and for advancing such unwanted thoughts. As a great albeit fictional and broken resistance leaders once wrote: "I am the dead." Winston Smith Let us all be dead to the idea of maintaining a patently unjust legal order.

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