Morfin v. City of East Chicago, No. 02-3113.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtRipple
Citation349 F.3d 989
PartiesManuel R. MORFIN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. CITY OF EAST CHICAGO, Robert A. Pastrick, in his official capacity as Mayor of the City of East Chicago, Frank Alcala, individually and in his official capacity as East Chicago Police Chief, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Decision Date18 November 2003
Docket NumberNo. 02-3113.

Page 989

349 F.3d 989
Manuel R. MORFIN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CITY OF EAST CHICAGO, Robert A. Pastrick, in his official capacity as Mayor of the City of East Chicago, Frank Alcala, individually and in his official capacity as East Chicago Police Chief, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
No. 02-3113.
United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.
Argued April 15, 2003.
Decided November 18, 2003.

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Ivan E. Bodensteiner (Argued), Valparaiso, IN, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Anthony DeBonis, Jr. (Argued), Smith & DeBonis, Highland, IN, Frank R. Callahan, East Chicago, IN, Michael W. Bosch (Argued), Bamber, Bosch & Banasiak, Hammond, IN, James A. Greco, Sr. (Argued), Greco, Bishop & Kuechenberg, Merrillville, IN, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before FLAUM, Chief Judge, and RIPPLE and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges.

RIPPLE, Circuit Judge.


Manuel R. Morfin brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Indiana state law for alleged constitutional violations and other torts resulting from his arrest and detention in May 1999. The defendants moved for summary judgment on all of Mr. Morfin's claims, and the district court granted the defendants' motion. Mr. Morfin appealed. We now affirm in part and reverse and remand in part.

I
BACKGROUND

A. Facts

1. Undisputed facts

The facts of this case concern events leading up to the Democratic primary for the mayoral race in the City of East Chicago, Indiana, on May 4, 1999. In that election, Stephen Stiglich was challenging the incumbent mayor, Robert Pastrick. At that time, Mr. Morfin was a mechanic and head custodian for the Lake County Election Board ("Election Board"). He had been appointed to that position by Stiglich. Mr. Morfin also was a supporter of the Stiglich campaign.

On the evening of May 3, 1999, Mr. Morfin and another Election Board mechanic, Roy Shaffer, were eating dinner at a fast-food restaurant when Mr. Morfin received a call from Chris Lincoln, another Election Board employee. Lincoln reported that there had been a problem with the voting machines at one of the polling locations. Mr. Morfin and Shaffer drove to that location, a barbershop, to determine if there were problems with the machines. When they arrived at the barbershop, Mr. Morfin and Shaffer were stopped by Officer Andrew Kovats. The parties dispute the events that followed.

2. Events according to Mr. Morfin

As Mr. Morfin and Shaffer entered the barbershop, Officer Kovats1 addressed them and said, "`I'm taking fingerprints. Don't touch the machines.'" Morfin Dep. at 29. Mr. Morfin then introduced himself as a mechanic for the Election Board and stated: "I'm not going to touch them, I just want to check the seals to see if they're not broken." Id. at 34. As Mr. Morfin was introducing himself, a second officer, who Mr. Morfin later identified as Officer Louis Arcuri, arrived on the scene.

Officer Kovats acquiesced in Mr. Morfin's request. After checking the machines, Mr. Morfin then informed Officer Kovats that he was going to plug the machines in "`to see if the window of the

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voting machine sa[id] "check ballot."'" Id. at 35.2 Officer Kovats did not attempt to stop Mr. Morfin in any way.

At about the same time as Mr. Morfin was plugging in the voting machines, Kevin Pastrick, who everyone present knew both as Mayor Pastrick's son and as being involved in his father's re-election bid, appeared at the threshold of the barbershop. See Morfin Dep. at 38. Kevin Pastrick was talking on his cellular telephone and informed the party to whom he was speaking that "Rick is in here." Id. at 39. Kevin Pastrick then told Officer Kovats to "[r]emove Rick, get him out of there." Id. at 40.3 Mr. Morfin, however, did not leave, which prompted Kevin Pastrick to tell the party he was speaking to: "`Tell Justin Rick won't leave.'" Id.4

Mr. Morfin then attempted to tell Officer Kovats that there was nothing wrong with the machines. Kevin Pastrick, however, told Officer Kovats that Mr. Morfin was interfering with the investigation of machine tampering. Mr. Morfin attempted to explain to Kevin Pastrick that he was not interfering with the investigation, but was assisting by checking the machines. Mr. Morfin then invited Kevin Pastrick to come and look at the machine to verify what he (Mr. Morfin) had been reporting. Kevin Pastrick did not move, but told Officer Kovats "`Rick is interfering with the investigation, with evidence, have him arrested.'" Id. at 57.

After this last instruction from Kevin Pastrick, Officers Kovats and Arcuri grabbed Mr. Morfin, twisted his arm, shoved him against the wall and took him to the floor. Id. at 59-60. To this point, Mr. Morfin had not resisted any police action and informed the officers, "`I'm going peacefully, you don't have to put handcuffs on me.'" Id. It was only after the officers took Mr. Morfin to the floor that Mr. Morfin crossed his arms on his chest to prevent the officers from handcuffing him. Id. at 105.

During the time that Mr. Morfin was in the barbershop, Officer Kovats called the East Chicago Police Department ("ECPD") seeking guidance on what Mr. Morfin's authority was and how he should be treated. Officer Kovats first spoke with Frank Alcala, chief of the ECPD. According to Chief Alcala, the telephone call was interrupted because Mr. Morfin was attempting to take control of the voting machines.5 Chief Alcala then turned the call over to Thomas Ryan, the ECPD legal advisor. Ryan, however, was unsure of the legal authority of Mr. Morfin and simply told Officer Kovats to do his job as a police officer. After Ryan spoke with Officer Kovats, Chief Alcala also told Officer Kovats to do his job. Officer Kovats then informed Chief Alcala that he was going to arrest Mr. Morfin for interfering with the scene.

Mr. Morfin was transported to the ECPD that evening by Officer Clarence Anderson. Mr. Morfin then spent several hours in a cell at the police department and was released on his own recognizance.

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The arrest report indicated that Mr. Morfin was arrested for resisting law enforcement, in violation of Ind.Code § 35-44-3-3(a)(1), and disorderly conduct, in violation of Ind.Code § 35-45-1-3(2).6 Formal charges never were filed against Mr. Morfin either by the Lake County Prosecutor or a special prosecutor.

3. Events according to defendants

The defendants relate a very different version of events. According to the defendants, Officer Kovats was dusting the crime scene for fingerprints when Mr. Morfin arrived. Mr. Morfin announced that he worked for the Election Board and showed identification. See Kovats Dep. (8/14/01) at 28. He assured Officer Kovats that he would not touch anything, but just wanted to check the seals on the machines; Officer Kovats agreed. Shortly after this discussion, Officers Arcuri and Anderson arrived on the scene. See id. at 19.

At that point, Mr. Morfin informed Officer Kovats that he (Mr. Morfin) was taking over the crime scene. See id. at 31. Officer Kovats asked Mr. Morfin on what authority he could take such an action; without responding directly, Mr. Morfin told Officer Kovats that he would be taking the machines. See id. At that point, Officer Kovats interrupted and instructed Mr. Morfin to wait a minute while he made a phone call. Officer Kovats then called the ECPD and spoke with Ryan. While Officer Kovats was on the phone, Mr. Morfin started to remove the machines; Officer Kovats instructed him to stop. Mr. Morfin did not do so, and Officer Kovats told Mr. Morfin "to stop touching the machines." Id. at 44. Mr. Morfin responded: "`F____ you. This crime scene belongs to me now and I'm taking the machines.'" Id. At that point, Officer Kovats instructed Mr. Morfin to "[g]et out of my crime scene" and told Mr. Morfin that this was his last warning. Id. Mr. Morfin flat-out refused to leave at which point he placed Mr. Morfin under arrest. Mr. Morfin, instead of cooperating with the officers, refused the officers' instruction to place his hands behind his back. See id. He also crossed his arms at his chest so as to prevent the officers7 from effecting the arrest. He then told the officers that they did not know who they were "messing with," and that he was "protected by important people." Id. at 45.

After he was handcuffed, Mr. Morfin calmed down and was transported to jail by Officer Anderson. According to the defendants, although Kevin Pastrick may have arrived at the barbershop at some time, he did not enter the barbershop, he did not give any orders, and the officers did not follow any instructions given by Kevin Pastrick.

B. District Court Proceedings

Mr. Morfin filed a complaint in district court against the City of East Chicago, Mayor Pastrick, Chief Alcala, Officer Kovats, Officer Arcuri, Officer Anderson and Kevin Pastrick. Specifically, Mr. Morfin set forth his version of the events of the evening of May 3, 1999, and claimed that "[t]he challenged actions of the defendants and their agents were taken against Mr. Morfin because of his support of Stiglich, Mayor Pastrick's opponent in the 1999 democratic primary election." R.1 at ¶ 13. Furthermore, continued Mr. Morfin, the alleged actions were in violation of "the first, fourth and fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which the plaintiff

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seeks to enforce pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Art. 1, §§ 9, 11, 12 and 15 of the Indiana constitution, and Indiana tort law." Id. at ¶ 15.

The defendants moved for summary judgment on all claims, and the district court rendered judgment in the defendants' favor. The district court believed that its first task was "to determine whether probable cause existed for the charges or a closely related charge which formed the basis for Morfin's arrest." R.114 at 14. Looking to the first charge of resisting law enforcement, which the district court acknowledged required a showing of forcible resistance, the district court...

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  • Anderson v. City of West Bend Police Dep't, Case No. 09–CV–840.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Wisconsin
    • February 28, 2011
    ...under § 1983. See Devenpeck v. Alford, 543 U.S. 146, 153, 125 S.Ct. 588, 160 L.Ed.2d 537 (2004); see also Morfin v. City of E. Chicago, 349 F.3d 989, 997 (7th Cir.2003). 8. Moreover, though it does not appear the plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the officers' initial search of ......
  • Purtell v. Mason, No. 06-3176.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit
    • May 14, 2008
    ...motion for summary judgment on the Fourth Amendment claim, holding there was probable cause to arrest. See Morfin v. City of East Chicago, 349 F.3d 989, 997 (7th Cir.2003) (stating that existence of probable cause bars § 1983 claim). This decision was manifestly correct. "Police ordinarily ......
  • Carlson v. Bukovic - ., No. 09-2578.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • September 2, 2010
    ...City of Champaign, 524 F.3d 826, 827 (7th Cir.2008); Tibbs v. City of Chi., 469 F.3d 661, 662 (7th Cir.2006); Morfin v. City of E. Chi., 349 F.3d 989, 994-96 (7th Cir.2003). In this case, however, Ms. Carlson did not advance a false arrest claim. In fact, she affirmatively disavowed any int......
  • Sinfuego v. Curry Cnty. Bd. of Cnty. Commissioners, No. CR 15-0563 JB\GJF
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • December 27, 2018
    ...such speech as a substantial motivating factor in an adverse employment decision. Id [. ] ; see also Morfin v. City of East Chicago, 349 F.3d 989, 1005 (7th Cir. 2003) (explaining protected conduct cannot be a basis for retaliation where defendants did not know of such conduct). An employer......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
271 cases
  • Anderson v. City of West Bend Police Dep't, Case No. 09–CV–840.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Wisconsin
    • February 28, 2011
    ...under § 1983. See Devenpeck v. Alford, 543 U.S. 146, 153, 125 S.Ct. 588, 160 L.Ed.2d 537 (2004); see also Morfin v. City of E. Chicago, 349 F.3d 989, 997 (7th Cir.2003). 8. Moreover, though it does not appear the plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the officers' initial search of ......
  • Purtell v. Mason, No. 06-3176.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit
    • May 14, 2008
    ...motion for summary judgment on the Fourth Amendment claim, holding there was probable cause to arrest. See Morfin v. City of East Chicago, 349 F.3d 989, 997 (7th Cir.2003) (stating that existence of probable cause bars § 1983 claim). This decision was manifestly correct. "Police ordinarily ......
  • Carlson v. Bukovic - ., No. 09-2578.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • September 2, 2010
    ...City of Champaign, 524 F.3d 826, 827 (7th Cir.2008); Tibbs v. City of Chi., 469 F.3d 661, 662 (7th Cir.2006); Morfin v. City of E. Chi., 349 F.3d 989, 994-96 (7th Cir.2003). In this case, however, Ms. Carlson did not advance a false arrest claim. In fact, she affirmatively disavowed any int......
  • Sinfuego v. Curry Cnty. Bd. of Cnty. Commissioners, No. CR 15-0563 JB\GJF
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • December 27, 2018
    ...such speech as a substantial motivating factor in an adverse employment decision. Id [. ] ; see also Morfin v. City of East Chicago, 349 F.3d 989, 1005 (7th Cir. 2003) (explaining protected conduct cannot be a basis for retaliation where defendants did not know of such conduct). An employer......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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