570 F.Supp. 474 (N.D.Ind. 1983), Civ. S82-500, Blackwell v. Cook

Docket NºCiv. S82-500
Citation570 F.Supp. 474
Party NameBlackwell v. Cook
Case DateAugust 23, 1983
CourtUnited States District Courts, 7th Circuit, Northern District of Indiana

Page 474

570 F.Supp. 474 (N.D.Ind. 1983)

Deborah Ann BLACKWELL, Plaintiff,


Michael D. COOK, Judge of the Circuit Court of Marshall County, Indiana, Defendant.

Civ. No. S82-500.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division.

Aug. 23, 1983

As Amended Sept. 8, 1983.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Thomas M. Joyce, Chicago, Ill., Robert Canfield, South Bend, Ind., for plaintiff.

Linley Pearson, Atty. Gen. by Michael Schaefer, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, Ind., for defendant.


SHARP, Chief Judge.

This case was filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by a former employee of the Probation Department of Marshall County, Indiana, against her putative employer/supervisor, the Judge of the Marshall Circuit Court. The jurisdiction of this court is predicated on a federal question under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343. In addition to damages, plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202. This matter is presently before the court on defendant's motion for summary judgment.

Plaintiff filed her complaint in this action on November 2, 1982. In said complaint, plaintiff alleged that the defendant's act of terminating her employment as a family counselor in the Marshall County Probation Department constituted a violation of plaintiff's equal protection and due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as a violation of her First Amendment rights. 1

On January 26, 1983, defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. In that motion, defendant set forth four grounds in support of a summary ruling in this matter: (1) defendant acted in his official capacity as a judge, and is therefore shielded by the doctrine of judicial immunity; (2) plaintiff's employment was at will, i.e., she lacked any expectation under state law in her continued employment and, therefore, no legitimate property interest existed in said employment; (3) plaintiff failed to state a cognizable claim on her First Amendment count; and, (4) plaintiff was properly discharged for cause. The plaintiff filed no response to the defendant's motion for summary judgment, and on March 3, 1983, the defendant filed a motion for summary ruling on its motion for summary judgment, based on plaintiff's failure to comply with the responsive pleading guidelines of Rule 7(b) of the Rules of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.

On March 11, 1983, a hearing was held in open court on the defendant's motion for summary judgment. At that time, the plaintiff was given to and including July 1, 1983, in which to file a response to defendant's original motion. To date, plaintiff has not responded to defendant's motion.

On the date of the pretrial conference (March 11, 1983), defendant filed a supplemental memorandum in support of its motion for summary judgment, and on June 30, 1983, defendant filed a Consolidated Motion for Summary Judgment.

On July 12, 1983, plaintiff filed a motion for enlargement of time in which to respond to defendant's motions for summary judgment. 2 That motion was granted, giving

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plaintiff to and including July 29, 1983, in which to file said response. As already indicated, plaintiff has yet to file any such response. 3

Defendant's motion for summary judgment is ripe for ruling. It is the ORDER of this court that the plaintiff's deposition, filed June 15, 1983, be and hereby is published and made a part of the record hereof. This court turns now to an examination of the merits of defendant's motion.


Although not immunizing him from injunctive and declaratory relief, the Civil Rights Act did leave intact a state court judge's absolute immunity from monetary damages for the performance of a judicial act. Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 87 S.Ct. 1213, 18 L.Ed.2d 288 (1967). The test to determine whether the doctrine of judicial immunity protects a judge from damages for a particular act is twofold; the leading case on this point states it as follows:

... [T]he factors determining whether an act by a judge is a "judicial" one relate to the nature of the act itself, i.e., whether it is a function normally performed by a judge, and to the expectations of the parties, i.e., whether they dealt with the judge in his judicial capacity. Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 362, 98 S.Ct. 1099, 1107, 55 L.Ed.2d 331 (1978).

To determine the "nature of the act itself," it is necessary to review the probation officer's duties and responsibilities contained in Ind.Code § 11-13-1-3 (Burns Ann.1981 Rpl.) The statute provides:

Sec. 3 A probation officer shall:

(1) conduct prehearing and presentence investigations and prepare reports as required by law;

(2) assist the courts in making pretrial release decisions;

(3) assist the courts, prosecuting attorneys, and other law enforcement officials in making decisions regarding the diversion of charged individuals to appropriate non-criminal alternatives;

(4) furnish each person placed on probation under his supervision a written statement of the conditions of his probation and instruct him regarding those conditions;

(5) supervise and assist persons on probation consistent with conditions of probation imposed by the court;

(6) bring to the court's attention any modification in the conditions of probation considered advisable;

(7) notify the court when a violation of a condition of probation occurs;

(8) cooperate with public and private agencies and other persons concerned with the treatment or welfare of persons on probation, and assist them in obtaining services from those agencies and persons;

(9) keep accurate records of cases investigated by him and of all cases assigned to him by the court and make these records available to the court upon request;

(10) collect and disburse money from persons under his supervision according to the order of the court, and keep accurate and complete accounts of those collections and disbursements;

(11) assist the court in transferring supervision of a person on probation to a court in another jurisdiction; and

(12) perform other duties required by law as directed by the court. (Emphasis added).

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As the above statutory language makes clear, the duties of the probation officer are essentially and inextricably bound up with those of the court itself. Thus, it would be difficult to conceive of a probation officer serving any purpose whatsoever in the absence of a court of law to which that probation officer would report.

It is uncontroverted that Mrs. Blackwell was a member of the Probation Department when her services were terminated. Mrs. Blackwell, as well as the other members of the Probation Department, were appointed to their positions by the Judge on January 5, 1982.

Mrs. Blackwell's description of her duties in her deposition as "family counsellor" within the probation department indicate that her functions were, in fact, those of a probation officer...

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