Hampton v. City of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois

Decision Date24 August 1973
Docket Number72-1300.,No. 72-1277,72-1277
Citation484 F.2d 602
PartiesIberia HAMPTON, Administratrix, etc. Verlina Brewer, etc., and Deborah Johnson et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. The CITY OF CHICAGO, COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS and Edward V. Hanrahan et al., Defendants-Appellees. Fannie Mae CLARK, Administratrix of the Estate of Mark Clark, Deceased, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. The CITY OF CHICAGO, and Edward V. Hanrahan et al., Defendants-Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit

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Michael Deutsch, Jeffrey H. Haas, Chicago, Ill., Arthur Kinoy, William J. Bender, Newark, N. J., David Scribner, New York City, Jonathan M. Hyman, Chicago, Ill., for plaintiffs-appellants.

Bernard Carey, State's Atty., Michael J. Goldstein, Charles A. Powell, Asst. State's Attys., Richard L. Curry, Corp. Counsel, Gayle F. Haglund, Asst. Corp. Counsel, Chicago, Ill., for defendants-appellees.

Before FAIRCHILD, STEVENS and SPRECHER, Circuit Judges.

STEVENS, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiffs allege that 14 Chicago police officers raided an apartment at 2337 West Monroe Street at 4:15 A.M. on December 4, 1969, for the purpose of killing Mark Clark and Fred Hampton and punishing seven other residents of the apartment because they were black and had exercised their First Amendment rights as members of the Black Panther Party. They also allege that 15 other defendants conspired to imprison and prosecute seven surviving occupants without any legal basis whatsoever. In four separate complaints, containing a total of 49 counts, plaintiffs claim actual and punitive damages under the Federal Civil Rights Act and Illinois law. Accepting the allegations as true, as the law requires, the district court denied motions to dismiss filed by the fourteen participating officers,1 but entered a final judgment dismissing all claims against the remaining 15 defendants. Plaintiffs appeal from that judgment.2

The appellees include: (1) The State's Attorney (Hanrahan) and three Assistant State's Attorneys (Jalovec, Sorosky and Meltreger); (2) seven police officers who participated in certain investigations after the raid;3 (3) the Mayor of Chicago (Daley) and the Superintendent of Police (Conlisk); and (4) the City of Chicago and the County of Cook, municipal corporations. The district court held that the prosecutors were protected by quasi-judicial immunity, that the allegations against the appellee police officers, Mayor Daley and Superintendent Conlisk were insufficient, and that the City and County were not "persons" within the meaning of the federal civil rights statutes and are immune from liability on a respondeat superior theory. In three of the cases jurisdiction stems from the federal questions which are raised; in the fourth, plaintiff Brewer is a citizen of Michigan and therefore diversity jurisdiction is also asserted.

For the purposes of this appeal we must assume that all of plaintiffs' allegations are true. The test of sufficiency is whether ". . . it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 102, 2 L.Ed.2d 80.4 Since different issues are raised with respect to different appellees, we consider the relevant allegations separately.

In view of the large number of claims asserted, and the fact that the district court order requires all pleadings to be amended, we limit our review, with respect to each appellee, to the question whether any sufficient claim for relief has been alleged. Since reversal as to any appellee on any theory renders the district court's other rulings respecting that appellee subject to revision at any time prior to the conclusion of the entire trial, see Rule 54(b) Fed.R.Civ.P., it would be inappropriate to discuss the sufficiency of claims which may be amended and which need not be passed upon in order to determine this appeal.

1. Hanrahan and Jalovec. The Hampton complaint alleges that "under color of state search warrant" 14 police officers illegally entered the residence of Fred Hampton and, without provocation, fired over 90 bullets from machine guns, pistols, shotguns and carbines into the general living quarters, critically wounding Fred Hampton, who was otherwise physically abused and ultimately died. In addition, the officers allegedly stole or damaged Hampton's personal property and destroyed evidence of their illegal conduct. These alleged acts were "perpetrated upon Fred Hampton, Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, because of his beliefs, thoughts, words and associations" (¶ 21) in order "to create fear and terror in the Black Community" (¶ 23).

Hampton's administratrix alleges that Hanrahan and Jalovec, with the 14 officers, planned the raid and agreed to use excessive and deadly force against Hampton and others in his residence. Their alleged purpose was to deprive him of his constitutional rights because of his race and his political beliefs.

The Clark complaint tersely alleges that the officers shot and killed Mark Clark without any authority of law and thereby denied him due process of law by imposing summary punishment of death upon him. It alleges that defendant Hanrahan, or his Assistant State's Attorney, did "with specific intent, plan and execute the acts as alleged herein" (¶ 16); further, that these acts were the result of a tacit understanding "to treat the deceased as they did because he was Black."

The Johnson and Brewer complaints describe the raid in greater detail. They allege that four of the plaintiffs5 were wounded by gun fire and that all of them were physically and verbally abused and illegally arrested. Again the complaints allege that Hanrahan and Jalovec, as well as the 14 officers, "wilfully, maliciously, and with specific intent planned and executed the acts" recited in the complaints. These complaints also include a number of counts alleging state law claims of false imprisonment and malicious prosecution; these charges also involve defendants Hanrahan and Jalovec but will be discussed in Part 2 of this opinion.

As the district court correctly held, the allegations are plainly sufficient to state claims against the participating officers under the Federal Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985(3). It is equally clear that the allegations respecting the planning and execution of the raid by Hanrahan and Jalovec are sufficient unless their prosecutorial offices gave them immunity.

The district court erroneously relied on the Illinois Tort Immunity Act.6 Conduct by persons acting under color of state law which is wrongful under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or § 1985(3) cannot be immunized by state law. A construction of the federal statute which permitted a state immunity defense to have controlling effect would transmute a basic guarantee into an illusory promise; and the supremacy clause of the Constitution insures that the proper construction may be enforced. See McLaughlin v. Tilendis, 398 F.2d 287, 290 (7th Cir. 1968). The immunity claim raises a question of federal law.

The claim of immunity must not be confused with the defense of good faith. That defense is available to a person who, either because of his position or because of his conduct, is not immune from suit. See Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 557, 87 S.Ct. 1213, 18 L.Ed.2d 288. In those situations in which immunity is properly claimed, the action is defeated at the outset. An essential purpose of the doctrine is to give the officer freedom to exercise his discretion and to perform his official duties without fear that his conduct will be called into question at an evidentiary hearing or subject him to personal liability.

The source of the immunity is found in common law doctrine recognized in federal judicial decisions. The Supreme Court has squarely held that the broad language of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 did not abolish this protection for legislators "acting in a field where legislators traditionally have power to act," Tenney v. Brandhove, 341 U.S. 367, 379, 71 S.Ct. 783, 789, 95 L.Ed. 1019, or for judges for acts "within their judicial jurisdiction . . . even when the judge is accused of acting maliciously and corruptly. . . ." Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 554, 87 S. Ct. 1213, 1217, 1218, 18 L.Ed.2d 288.7 With respect to legislators and judges, it is clear that the doctrine may not be circumvented by allegations of improper motive; rather, the availability of immunity depends on the character of the conduct under attack.

The scope of immunity enjoyed by a state prosecutor has not yet been defined by the Supreme Court. We are nevertheless confident that at least some of his traditional functions must be immune from suit under § 1983. See Littleton v. Berbling, 468 F.2d 389, and cases cited at page 409 (7th Cir.1972). In view of the overriding importance of federal law, the area of his protection cannot be either limited or expanded by a state's statutory definition of his authority or responsibility; we therefore do not pause to review the respective parties' analyses of the relevant Illinois statute.8 Nor do we attach any weight in analyzing the immunity question to the numerous ways in which the pleadings characterize the motivation of the prosecutor as wrongful — ranging from "sadistic" or "racial" to the more familiar "malicious" or "discriminatory." The immunity doctrine would be of little value if such characterization of his motive could force the prosecutor to stand trial.

Prosecutorial conduct which traditionally has been treated as immune is often described as "quasi-judicial" as opposed to investigatory activities normally performed by laymen, such as police officers. Judge Ely's exposition of the distinction in Robichaud v. Ronan, 351 F.2d 533 (9th Cir. 1965) properly focuses on the character of the defendant's conduct, rather than his alleged motivation:

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