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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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