Pro Se Chicago's Weblog

October 14, 2008

Indigent Petition Illegal Denial in Cook County


In Cook County Illinois, the presiding judge of the law division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Judge William D. Maddux, routinely violates statutes and denies indigent petitions. He particularly denies them if you are a whistle blower against County Government, if you have filed more than one suit as an indigent person, or if you are “too” well dressed.

He violates law by not granting indigent status when one is on Medicaid, food stamps or SSI, as well as if one is living at an income less than the poverty level.

He fails to specifically state the reason he denies the petition and fails to order a payment schedule or a date certain by which to pay the fee.

He tells his staff to not tell the indigent person their names or their positions to make it harder for the person to appeal his decision. He has his staff routinely write on these petitions: “cannot maintain action in good faith.” This is not a legally valid reason to deny a petition.

Judge Maddux is committing conspiracy to violate rights under color of law, and violation of rights under color of law knowingly and willingly which are both federal felony crimes under the Federal Code. He is violating his oath of office to uphold the law and denying the indigent person their civil rights to redress of grievances, equal protection under the law, and due process. He should be removed from the bench.  I have filed the following Complaint for Mandamus against him in this regard in the Illinois Supreme Court today. I encourage all who are similarly situated to do the same. Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Timothy Evans, is failing to supervise him or his staff and is therefore aiding and abetting  this crime.

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS

 

 

Linda L. Shelton                                             )

                        Plaintiff                                     )

                                                                        )      Case No. ______________

v.                                                                                                                              )

)

The Honorable William H. Maddux,            )

in his official capacity as executive director     )

of the Law Division of the Cook County      )

Circuit Court and its Presiding Judge           )

                                                                        )

and                                                                  )

                                                                        )

Dorothy Brown in her official capacity             )

as the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk       )

                                                                        )

                        Defendants                               )

 

VERIFIED COMPLAINT FOR A WRIT OF MANDAMUS

 

            Plaintiff Linda L. Shelton, complains of Defendant as follows:

 

INTRODUCTION

 

1.      This complaint asks this Court to issue a writ of mandamus requiring the Presiding Judge of the Law Division, County Department, of the Circuit Court of Cook County (“CCCC”) and the Clerk of the CCCC to comply with the nondiscretionary mandates of the portion of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure governing how courts process and evaluate request by litigant to proceed in forma pauperis.

THE PARTIES

2.      Plaintiff Linda L. Shelton is a resident of Cook County and the State of Illinois.

3.      Defendant the Honorable William H. Maddux (“Judge”) is the duly appointed presiding judge of the Law Division of the County Department of the CCCC. He was appointed the presiding judge of the Law Division by order of the Chief Judge of the CCCC, the Honorable Timothy Evans, and as such is authorized to make administrative decisions for the functioning of the Law Division of the CCCC, per rules of the CCCC, consistent with the laws of the State of Illinois and the Illinois Supreme Court Rules.

4.      Defendant Dorothy Brown is the duly elected Clerk of the CCCC (“Clerk”) under the laws of the State of Illinois.

STATEMENT OF FACTS AND ARGUMENT

5.      The Judge has by fiat decided that all petitions for in forma pauperis status in the Law Division of the CCCC will be heard by him ONLY at 11:30 a.m. each morning the court is open. If the plaintiff appears in his courtroom after noon he absolutely refuses to hear the plaintiff’s petition that day. He does not hear the petitions in open court, but requires that the petition be given to his law clerk and the decision on the petition is done without the presence or further input of the Plaintiff. At his discretion, the Judge may come into the courtroom and question the Plaintiff, which on information and belief in practice is almost never done. This procedure is NOT published or posted anywhere and Plaintiffs must discover it by accident or by asking the Clerk or the Judge’s courtroom clerk or law clerks.

6.      On information and belief Plaintiff has discovered that the Judge routinely denies petition to sue as an indigent person in violation of Illinois Statutes and has violated the Plaintiff’s constitutional statutory rights as follows:

735 ILCS 5/5‑105

             Leave to sue or defend as an indigent person.
                         (a) As used in this Section:
                                     (1) “Fees, costs, and charges” means payments

imposed on a party in connection with the prosecution or defense of a civil action, . . . .

(2) “Indigent person” means any person who meets one or more of the following criteria:

(i) He or she is receiving assistance under one or more of the following public benefits programs: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Aid to the Aged, Blind and Disabled (AABD), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Food Stamps, General Assistance, State Transitional Assistance, or State Children and Family Assistance.

(ii) His or her available income is 125% or less of the current poverty level as established by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, unless the applicant’s assets that are not exempt under Part 9 or 10 of Article XII of this Code are of a nature and value that the court determines that the applicant is able to pay the fees, costs, and charges.

(iii) He or she is, in the discretion of the court, unable to proceed in an action without payment of fees, costs, and charges and whose payment of those fees, costs, and charges would result in substantial hardship to the person or his or her family.

(iv) He or she is an indigent person pursuant to Section 5‑105.5 of this Code.

(b) On the application of any person, before, or after the commencement

of an action, a court, on finding that the applicant is an indigent person, shall grant the applicant leave to sue or defend the action without payment of the fees, costs, and charges of the action.

(c) An application for leave to sue or defend an action as an indigent

person shall be in writing and supported by the affidavit of the applicant or, if the applicant is a minor or an incompetent adult, by the affidavit of another person having knowledge of the facts. The contents of the affidavit shall be established by Supreme Court Rule. . . . The clerk of the court shall post in a conspicuous place in the courthouse a notice no smaller than 8.5 x 11 inches, using no smaller than 30‑point typeface printed in English and in Spanish, advising the public that they may ask the court for permission to sue or defend a civil action without payment of fees, costs, and charges. The notice shall be substantially as follows:
        “If you are unable to pay the fees, costs, and charges of an action you may ask the court to allow you to proceed without paying them. Ask the clerk of the court for forms.”

(d) The court shall rule on applications under this Section in a timely manner based on information contained in the application unless the court, in its discretion, requires the applicant to personally appear to explain or clarify information contained in the application. If the court finds that the applicant is an indigent person, the court shall enter an order permitting the applicant to sue or defend without payment of fees, costs, or charges. If the application is denied, the court shall enter an order to that effect stating the specific reasons for the denial. The clerk of the court shall promptly mail or deliver a copy of the order to the applicant.
            (e) The clerk of the court shall not refuse to accept and file any complaint, appearance, or other paper presented by the applicant if accompanied by an application to sue or defend in forma pauperis, and those papers shall be considered filed on the date the application is presented. If the application is denied, the order shall state a date certain by which the necessary fees, costs, and charges must be paid. The court, for good cause shown, may allow an applicant whose application is denied to defer payment of fees, costs, and charges, make installment payments, or make payment upon reasonable terms and conditions stated in the order. The court may dismiss the claims or defenses of any party failing to pay the fees, costs, or charges within the time and in the manner ordered by the court. A determination concerning an application to sue or defend in forma pauperis shall not be construed as a ruling on the merits.
             (f) The court may order an indigent person to pay all or a portion of the fees, costs, or charges waived pursuant to this Section out of moneys recovered by the indigent person pursuant to a judgment or settlement resulting from the civil action. However, nothing is this Section shall be construed to limit the authority of a court to order another party to the action to pay the fees, costs, or charges of the action.

 

The Judge wrote on the order that the Plaintiff is denied in forma pauperis status despite the fact that the Plaintiff is “indigent” as provided by the above statute. He wrote as the reason on the order in the handwriting of his law clerk: “cannot maintain action in good faith.” (Exhibit A) There is NO provision in this statute for the Judge determining whether or not the Plaintiff can maintain the action in good faith. It is mandatory that the Judge grant the petition if the Plaintiff meets the qualifications for indigent status as defined in Statute, 735 ILCS 5/5-105(a)(2) & (b). The Judge failed to issue an order as to when the filing fee must be paid to prevent dismissal and fails to consider payment plans, which is an issue he is required to decide and write in his order per statute, 737 ILCS 5/5-105(e). These omissions of the Judge are violations of the First and Fifth Amendments rights to redress of grievances (access to the courts) and due process.

7.      The Clerk oversees the office of the Clerk of the CCCC. She and her staff are responsible for filing and maintaining a record of all civil cases filed and heard in the CCCC. The Clerk is responsible, in her official capacity, for the actions of her staff as alleged herein. The only information a plaintiff obtains from the Clerk on her website in regards to in forma pauperis petitions is that they must be heard by a judge.  The Clerk’s authority to file complaints is determined by the rules of the CCCC and Illinois Statutes:

CCCC Rule 0.3.1 Clerk of Court

(a) The Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County shall perform the duties usually performed by the Clerk as provided in “An Act to revise the law in relation to clerks of courts,” Chapter 25, Illinois Revised Statutes.

 

705 ILCS 105/10
The principal clerk shall, in all cases, be responsible for the acts of his or her deputies.


705 ILCS 105/13
The clerks shall attend the sessions of their respective courts, preserve all the files and papers thereof, make, keep and preserve complete records of all the proceedings and determinations thereof, except in cases otherwise provided by law, and do and perform all other duties pertaining to their offices, as may be required by law or the rules and orders of their courts respectively.

 

8.      The Clerk of the CCCC, on information and belief, refuses to accept a complaint for filing unless the Plaintiff pays the filing fee or presents to the Clerk a copy of an order from the Judge granting in forma pauperis status.

9.      The statutes of the State of Illinois, 735 ILCS 5/5-105, state:

The clerk of the court shall not refuse to accept any complaint, appearance, or other paper presented by the applicant if accompanied by an application to sue or defend in forma pauperis, and those papers shall be considered filed on the date the application is presented.

 

This is a non-discretionary act of the Clerk of the CCCC.

10.  Plaintiff of October 2, 2008 arrived in the courtroom of the Judge at 10:30 a.m. and waited until the call was ending to hand the courtroom clerk a Petition to Sue as an Indigent Person (Exhibit B) and a tort Complaint (Exhibit C).

11.  At approximately noon the court proceedings had ended, the Judge had retired to his chambers, and the courtroom clerk took the Plaintiff’s documents and documents from other similarly situated persons to the Judge’s chambers.

12.  Approximately an hour later, the Judge’s staff came out and gave all the papers and orders to an employee of the Clerk’s office, who told Plaintiff and other similarly situated persons to follow him to the Clerk’s office on the 8th floor of the Daley Center, Room 801.

13.  In room 801 in the line for filing complaints each in succession after a period of waiting the Clerk’s staff called Plaintiff and similarly situated individuals up to the counter.

14.  Plaintiff was informed that the Judge denied the Petition. Plaintiff asked why? The Clerk’s staff stated “You can’t sue in good faith.” The Clerk’s staff demanded payment of the filing fee of $381 in order to file the complaint.

15.  Plaintiff stated she could not pay the fee. The Clerk’s staff refused to file the complaint without the fee, so Plaintiff demanded her papers back. The Clerk’s staff withheld the order from Plaintiff and gave back the complaint and blank copies of the proposed order.

16.  Plaintiff immediately went back to the Judge’s courtroom and requested to have her case (Petition) recalled to the courtroom Sheriff’s deputy, who was the only person in the courtroom at that time. She sat quietly with her walker on a bench in the gallery.

17.  The Sheriff’s deputy went to the Judge’s chamber and came back and told Plaintiff her situation was being reviewed.

18.  A secretary or law clerk who refused to reveal her name or position came out and told Plaintiff she would not be heard. Plaintiff told her that she did not receive a copy of the order and this woman went in the back and eventually came back with a copy of the order that said the Petition was denied because “cannot maintain action in good faith.” Plaintiff stated to this lady that this order was legally insufficient and void and she wanted to make an instanter motion to reconsider. The lady stated she would not give legal advice, when none was asked for.

19.  The lady stated that the Judge was gone. Plaintiff stated she would wait until he returned. The lady stated that Plaintiff would have to come back another day at 9:30 for motions. Plaintiff stated that she needed a case number and that the Clerk had failed to write one on the order. The lady stated she would give no legal advice. Plaintiff stated that she wanted to know the administrative procedure for appealing the decision. The lady stated she would give no legal advice.

20.  Plaintiff stated she needed the lady’s name so that she could appeal the ruling and that she would come back the next day with a motion to reconsider. The lady refused to give her name and left.

21.  The courtroom deputy refused to give the lady’s name or the nature of her position in the court.

22.  Plaintiff stated she would go in the back to the chambers and ask the law clerk to identify the lady, as she had the same standing as a pro se counsel as an attorney to request information from the secretary and law clerk in the chambers. The courtroom deputy stated he would not allow Plaintiff to go to the chambers.

23.  Plaintiff then got out her cell phone and called the CCCC Chief Judge Evan’s office. Rosemary answered the phone and Plaintiff politely requested the name of the secretary and law clerks for the Judge. Rosemary stated she didn’t give out that information, not even first names. She demanded the name of the caller and Plaintiff stated Linda. She demanded Plaintiff’s last name and Plaintiff stated, “when you give me your last name, I’ll give you mine.”  Plaintiff asked Rosemary how to make a complaint to the Chief Judge and Rosemary said to write a letter and gave the address.

24.  During this time, two Sheriff’s Sergeants and several Officers arrived in the courtroom. As Plaintiff was talking on the phone, the deputies ordered her to leave the courtroom and the oriental Sgt. known to others as “Q” threatened Plaintiff with an unlawful arrest for “trespass to state supported land.” Plaintiff demanded their names and the name of the lady. They refused to give their names and said “read it off my badge”, but were too far for Plaintiff to read the names, except for two deputies, Woods badge 11223 and Erman. Plaintiff stated she wasn’t leaving until she had the name of the lady so she could write a proper appeal identifying all the actors in the situation. The deputies then ordered Plaintiff to stand and submit to arrest. They grabbed her papers and her walker away from her and Plaintiff stood up. The deputies ordered Plaintiff to walk to the door and Plaintiff replied: “that’s impossible because you took my walker.”

25.  The deputies surrounded Plaintiff and returned the walker and Plaintiff walked out of the courtroom door surrounded by the deputies and led by Sgt. Q. They did not arrest Plaintiff, but a deputy pulled the walker too fast causing Plaintiff to lose her grip. Then Deputy Woods pushed Plaintiff, Plaintiff lost her balance and had to grab Woods’ shoulder to keep from falling. Plaintiff loudly complained: “stop assaulting me.” The deputies then gave back the walker and backed off a bit.

26.  Plaintiff then proceeded to the Clerk’s satellite office next to the Judge’s courtroom and went up to the counter and asked the name of the lady and the Judge’s law clerks, two of whom came into the room while Plaintiff was talking.  The two clerk’s assistants and the two law clerks refused to identify the lady or themselves. Plaintiff called a friend on her cell phone and was told one of the law clerk’s names was “Donald”. Plaintiff then left the building.

27.  The next day Plaintiff was granted food stamps by the Illinois Department of Human Services (“IL Medicaid”).

28.  Plaintiff has a clear right to have either her Indigency Petition approved or to receive a written order stating the specific reasons for the denial. The Judge had a clear duty to approve the Indigency Application or to issue a written order stating the specific reasons for denial. Now that Plaintiff has been granted food stamps, the Judge has an absolute duty to approve the Indigency Petition. The Clerk had a clear duty to file the Complaint.

29.  By refusing to perform their statutory duties, the Clerk and the Judge violated Plaintiff’s right to due process, her right to equal protection of the laws and her right to petition the government for a redress of grievances as guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Illinois.

WHEREFORE, for the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff, Linda L. Shelton respectfully

requests that this Honorable Court:

a.         issue a writ of mandamus requiring

1.                  that Dorothy Brown, the Clerk, accept the filing of Plaintiff’s complaint nunc pro tunc to October 2, 2008; and

2.                  that the Honorable Judge Maddux, grant Plaintiff’s Indigency Petition;

3.                  that Judge Maddux’s staff must identify themselves and state their positions when asked by a citizen;

4.                  that Judge Maddux’s staff will cease and desist using Sheriff’s deputies to harass citizens seeking grants of Indigency Petitions, will stop in so doing obstructing justice, and will stop violating constitutional and statutory rights of such citizens;

b.         issue an order requiring Defendants to reimburse Plaintiff for the costs associated with bringing this action including but not limited to parking fees and Xeroxing costs;

c.         grant such other relief as this Court deems appropriate including but not limited to reprimanding the Judge for violation of his oath of office.

 

Under penalties as provided by law pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/109-1 I certify that the statements set forth herein are true and correct.

 

____________________________                           

October 9, 2008                                              Linda L. Shelton

 

 

Linda Lorincz Shelton, Ph.D., M.D.

Plaintiff Pro Se

 

 

 

 

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