Martin v. Redden, 21-1937

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM.
Citation34 F.4th 564
Parties Anthony C. MARTIN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Timothy REDDEN, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Docket Number21-1937
Decision Date16 May 2022

34 F.4th 564

Anthony C. MARTIN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Timothy REDDEN, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 21-1937

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

Submitted April 11, 2022*
Decided May 16, 2022

Anthony C. Martin, Carlisle, IN, Pro Se.

Aaron T. Craft, Benjamin M. L. Jones, Attorneys, Office of the Attorney General, Indianapolis, IN, for Defendants-Appellees Timothy Redden, Rhonda Brenna, Howard Morton, Carl Tibbles.

Carol A. Dillon, Christopher Andrew Farrington, Attorneys, Bleeke Dillon Crandall, PC, Indianapolis, IN, for Defendant-Appellee Carmen Rojas.

Before Hamilton, Scudder, and Kirsch, Circuit Judges.

Per Curiam.

34 F.4th 566

Anthony Martin appeals the dismissal of lawsuits he brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the imposition of a filing bar as a sanction for submitting a falsified document in opposition to a motion for summary judgment. We affirm. We have chosen to publish this opinion because we have not recently issued a precedential decision that considered the propriety of a district court imposing the severe dual sanctions of dismissal and a filing bar when a litigant tries to defraud the court.

Based on findings of fraudulent conduct by Martin in several cases, two district courts have barred him from filing papers in civil cases until he pays all his outstanding federal-court filing fees. A few years ago, the Southern District of Indiana imposed a filing bar against Martin because he submitted false information in an application to proceed in forma pauperis. We affirmed the sanction based on that conduct and his history of fraudulent filings. Martin v. Fowler , 804 F. App'x 414 (7th Cir. 2020).

The second filing bar, and this appeal, arise from a case based on Martin's allegation that a guard at the Indiana State Prison sexually assaulted him. He filed an expansive complaint in the Northern District of Indiana. Upon screening, the court allowed him to proceed on 18 claims against 59 defendants but severed the unwieldy litigation into seven cases, including this one.1

After discovery, the defendants moved for summary judgment on the ground that Martin had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before suing over the alleged assault. They submitted evidence that Martin began but did not complete the required procedures. He filed a formal grievance, which was denied and returned to him with the explanation that an investigator concluded that the assault did not happen. Martin never appealed. To appeal, Martin would have needed to check a box on the returned form signifying his disagreement with the result and to have submitted that form for further review.

In opposing summary judgment, Martin filed numerous documents, each supported by an affidavit in which he swore under penalty of perjury that his submissions were true and correct. Among those documents was a copy of an "Offender Grievance Response Report" that purported to show that he had checked the box to appeal the denial of his assault grievance and had signed and dated the form. The problem was that the document contained a

34 F.4th 567

Bates stamp—GRIEVANCE 000655—that was not Martin's.

The defendants moved for sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(h) and the district court's inherent authority. They argued that Martin had forged the signature, date, and check mark on the grievance form to avoid summary judgment. The defendants submitted the declaration of a paralegal in the Indiana Attorney General's Office swearing that a Bates-stamped version of the grievance response form about the assault, stamped GRIEVANCE 000655, was given to Martin during discovery in another case, Martin v. Zimmerman , No. 3:18-CV-593-JD-MGG (N.D. Ind. Aug. 6, 2018). That version had contained no signature, date, or check mark. The defendants also argued that Martin falsified other documents and forms in his summary judgment response, such as other grievances on forms that the prison did not even use.

Martin moved to remove the allegedly falsified documents from the record, seeming to try to invoke the safe-harbor provision of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, which did not apply under the circumstances. He also asked the court to appoint handwriting and computer experts to prove that he had not falsified any documents. And, apparently trying to clarify the circumstances of his past litigation misconduct, he asked the court to take judicial notice of the reasons for his filing bar in the Southern District of Indiana. Finally, Martin moved for sanctions against the defendants—saying they had tampered with the grievance forms to keep him out of court—and requested a hearing.

The district court resolved the motions in a single order. First, it declined to remove the altered documents from the record, explaining that Martin was not entitled to "one free opportunity to defraud the court." It then denied the request to appoint experts because Martin sought to develop evidence, not interpret it. The court also found that the evidence of fraud was clear and did not require expert review. The court took judicial notice of Martin's prior litigation misconduct and denied his request to sanction the defendants because he had not shown they had engaged in any sanctionable conduct.

Next, the court found preliminarily that Martin had tried to defraud the court by submitting falsified documents to avoid summary judgment. It ordered Martin to show cause why it should not dismiss the suit with prejudice and impose a filing bar. The court took Martin's request for a hearing under advisement and told him to identify what evidence he would present at a hearing. The court also advised Martin of his right to avoid self-incrimination, given that false statements might constitute perjury.

In response, Martin asserted that he could not have altered the Bates-stamped grievance form because he lacked access to a computer and the defendants had confiscated his legal documents. He insisted that the defendants had forged his signature on the grievance form. As for the outdated grievance forms, which the defendants said were evidence of fraud, Martin asked the court to take judicial notice that the forms were still in circulation at his prison, and he proposed calling witnesses to testify to that.

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  • Jones v. York, 21-1989
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • May 16, 2022
    ...Supreme Court clarified that "detention without probable cause violates the Fourth Amendment ‘when it precedes, but also when it follows, 34 F.4th 564 the start of legal process in a criminal case.’ " Lewis v. City of Chicago , 914 F.3d 472, 474 (7th Cir. 2019) (quoting Manuel , 137 S. Ct. ......
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    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • July 28, 2022
    ...requested by an opposing litigant during discovery supports sanctions under the trial court's inherent authority); Martin v. Redden , 34 F.4th 564, 566–68 (7th Cir. 2022) (per curiam) (a litigant's submission of a falsified document to the court supports the severe sanction of dismissing hi......
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    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • July 7, 2022
    ...of Rule 706, we review the district court's decision declining to appoint an expert solely for abuse of discretion. Martin v. Redden, 34 F.4th 564, 569 (7th Cir. 2022) (per curiam); Giles v. Godinez, 914 F.3d 1040, 1052 (7th Cir. 2019); Ledford v. Sullivan, 105 F.3d 354, 358 (7th Cir. 1997)......
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