Rivera v. Guevara, Case No. 12-CV-04428

CourtUnited States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
Writing for the CourtJoan B. Gottschall, United States District Judge
Citation319 F.Supp.3d 1004
Parties Jacques RIVERA, Plaintiff, v. Reynaldo GUEVARA et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberCase No. 12-CV-04428
Decision Date11 May 2018

319 F.Supp.3d 1004

Jacques RIVERA, Plaintiff,
Reynaldo GUEVARA et al., Defendants.

Case No. 12-CV-04428

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division.

Signed May 11, 2018

319 F.Supp.3d 1014

Jonathan I. Loevy, Anand Swaminathan, Arthur R. Loevy, Michael I. Kanovitz, Rachel Elaine Brady, Roshna Bala Keen, Russell R. Ainsworth, Sarah Lynne Grusin, Sean Starr, Steven Edwards Art, Loevy & Loevy, J. Samuel Tenenbaum, Bluhm Legal Clinic, Locke E. Bowman, III, Alexa Van Brunt, David M. Shapiro, Elizabeth N. Mazur, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff.

Thomas More Leinenweber, James Vincent Daffada, Kevin Edward Zibolski, Leinenweber Baroni & Daffada, LLC, Elizabeth A. Ekl, Reiter Burns LLP, Eileen Ellen Rosen, Catherine Macneil Barber, John Joseph Rock, Silvia Mercado Masters, Theresa Berousek Carney, Stacy Ann Benjamin, Rock Fusco & Connelly, LLC, Erin Nicole Bybee, Rock Fusco, LLC, Chicago, IL, Caroline P. Golden, Jeffrey Robert Kivetz, Joseph M. Polick, David Andrew Brueggen, James Gus Sotos, Jeffrey Neil Given, The Sotos Law Firm, P.C., Itasca, IL, for Defendants.


Joan B. Gottschall, United States District Judge

319 F.Supp.3d 1015

On the afternoon of Saturday, August 27, 1988, someone shot Felix Valentin eleven times as he sat in a car parked on Chicago's west side. ECF No. 332 ¶¶ 2–3.1 Jacques Rivera, the plaintiff here, was convicted of Valentin's murder in 1990 after a bench trial. See ECF No. 332 ¶ 90; ECF No. 316 ¶ 1. It is undisputed that "Rivera has always been completely innocent, and had nothing to do with the tragic death of Felix Valentin." ECF No. 332 ¶ 96.

As the Seventh Circuit stated when it reviewed Rivera's conviction in 2002, "Certainly, the evidence against Rivera was not overwhelming. The state's case hinged entirely on the testimony of a thirteen-year old witness who identified Rivera as the shooter." Rivera v. Briley , 52 F. App'x 270, 274 (7th Cir. 2002) ; accord United States ex rel. Rivera v. DeTella , No. 97 C 2993, 1998 WL 704308, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 29, 1998). Nonetheless, "the credible testimony of one eyewitness is sufficient to support a conviction." Rivera , 52 F. App'x at 274 (citing United States ex rel. Wandick v. Chrans , 869 F.2d 1084, 1089 (7th Cir. 1989) ).

The support for Rivera's conviction effectively collapsed in 2011 when Orlando Lopez, the twelve-year-old eyewitness (he was thirteen when he testified at Rivera's trial), recanted his trial testimony at a hearing held in state court on June 23, 2011. ECF No. 332 ¶ 95. The state court found that Lopez's recantation was credible and ordered a new trial. Id. ; Pl. Ex. 18 at 7–8. Prosecutors dropped the charges against Rivera in October 2011, and he walked out of prison a free man after spending more than twenty years in prison

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for a crime he did not commit. ECF No. 332 ¶ 96. The state court issued Rivera a certificate of innocence on September 5, 2012. Id. ¶ 97; see Pl. Ex. 17; 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/2-702.

Rivera then filed this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Illinois law against the City of Chicago ("the City") and several Chicago police officers, including Reynaldo Guevara (collectively "officer defendants"), allegedly involved in the investigation of the Valentin murder. The City and the officer defendants have filed separate motions for summary judgment; the City joins the officer defendants' motion.


Before reciting the factual background, the court sets forth the summary judgment standard–an understanding of which helps to frame a threshold issue. Defendants object to Rivera's Local Rule 56.1 submissions in opposition to the pending motions, contending that the statements should be stricken from the record.

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). "The underlying substantive law governs whether a factual dispute is material: 'irrelevant or unnecessary' factual disputes do not preclude summary judgment." Carroll v. Lynch , 698 F.3d 561, 564 (7th Cir. 2012) (quoting Anderson , 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505 ). In resolving summary judgment motions, "facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to," and all reasonable inferences from that evidence must be drawn in favor of, "the nonmoving party[—but] only if there is a 'genuine' dispute as to those facts." Scott v. Harris , 550 U.S. 372, 380, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007) ; Blasius v. Angel Auto., Inc. , 839 F.3d 639, 644 (7th Cir. 2016) (citing Cairel v. Alderden , 821 F.3d 823, 830 (7th Cir. 2016) ).

The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) ; Modrowski v. Pigatto , 712 F.3d 1166, 1168 (7th Cir. 2013) (explaining that Rule 56"imposes an initial burden of production on the party moving for summary judgment to inform the district court why a trial is not necessary" (citation omitted) ). After "a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party must" go beyond the pleadings and "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson , 477 U.S. at 250, 106 S.Ct. 2505 (quotation omitted); see also Modrowski , 712 F.3d at 1169 (stating party opposing summary judgment "must go beyond the pleadings (e.g. , produce affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories, or admissions on file), to demonstrate that there is evidence upon which a jury could properly proceed to find a verdict in her favor") (citations and quotations omitted). Summary judgment is warranted when the nonmoving party cannot establish an essential element of its case on which it will bear the burden of proof at trial. Kidwell v. Eisenhauer , 679 F.3d 957, 964 (7th Cir. 2012).

B. Local Rule 56.1 Statements

Local Rule 56.1 sets out a procedure for presenting facts that are germane to a

319 F.Supp.3d 1017

party's request for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. Specifically, Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires a party moving for summary judgment to submit "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue and that entitle the moving party to judgment as a matter of law." Cracco v. Vitran Express, Inc. , 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting L.R. 56.1(a)(3) ). Each paragraph of the movant's facts must include "specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon to support the facts set forth in that paragraph." L.R. 56.1(a). The "[f]ailure to submit such a statement constitutes grounds for denial of the motion." Id. Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) requires the nonmoving party to submit a response to each statement of fact provided by the movant, "including, in the case of any disagreement, specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(B). The nonmoving party may also present a separate statement of additional facts "consisting of short numbered paragraphs, of any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment, including references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." L.R. 56.1(b)(3)(C). "All material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party." Id. Similarly, "[i]f additional material facts are submitted by the opposing party ..., the moving party may submit a concise reply in the form prescribed in that section for a response." L.R. 56.1(a). If the movant fails to respond properly to the opposing party's statement of additional facts, those facts will be deemed admitted. Id.

The parties sought and obtained leave to exceed the respective 80- and 40-statement limits on the number of paragraphs in a moving party and responding party's Local Rule 56.1 statements. See N.D. Ill. L.R. 56.1(a), (b)(3)(C). Defendants accuse Rivera of blatantly violating Local Rule 56.1 and the assigned judge's standing order on summary judgment motions. They urge the court to strike Rivera's responses to their Local Rule 56.1 statements of material facts and his Combined Statement of Facts in their entirety or, failing that, disregard several paragraphs of those papers. See Defs. Combined Reply 3–6, ECF No. 333. Defendants identify six purported defects in Rivera's Local Rule 56.1 submissions. As explained in the following paragraphs, the court disregards certain material in Rivera's Local Rule 56.1 submissions but leaves resolution of legal issues and arguments on materiality to the discussion on the...

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