Court Dismisses Wrongful Conviction Case

May 2, 2019
On May 1, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Colin Bruce dismissed a case brought by Darnell Fonder who claimed that he was wrongfully detained and convicted of resisting arrest. Fonder sued the City of Kankakee and two Kankakee police officers.
Fonder was arrested in May of 2010, convicted in 2011, and held in custody until he was paroled in 2012. He satisfied his parole term in 2013. In the meantime, he had appealed his conviction, which was reversed in 2013. His case lingered in the circuit court for several years before being dismissed by the prosecutor on November 1, 2016. Fonder filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging civil rights violations on October 29, 2018.
Judge Bruce dismissed the case because it was barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Citing the Seventh Circuit’s recent decision in Manuel v. City of Joliet, 903 F.3d 667 (7th Cir. 2018), Judge Bruce found that Fonder’s Fourth Amendment claim accrued when he was released from prison or, at the latest, when he satisfied his parole. Since he filed suit more than two years after that date, his claim was time-barred. Judge Bruce also rejected Fonder’s argument that his Fourth Amendment was timely because he was subject to unspecified bail conditions while the criminal case was pending, citing Mitchell v. City of Elgin, 912 F.3d 1012 (7th Cir. 2019). Judge Bruce looked at Fonder’s bail bond (which defendants attached to their reply brief) and found that the conditions (to appear in court, obey all court orders, not leave the State of Illinois without court permission, and not commit any crimes) were standard bail conditions that did not rise to the level of a Fourth Amendment seizure. Judge Bruce also dismissed Fonder’s due process claim based on the Seventh Circuit’s recent decision in Lewis v. City of Chicago, 914 F.3d 472 (7th Cir. 2019), which held that the Fourth Amendment, not the Fourteenth, governed all pretrial confinement claims. Finally, the court held that Fonder’s “wrongful conviction” claim was time-barred, because he failed to file suit within two years of the conviction being overturned, citing Johnson v. Winstead, 900 F.3d 428 (7th Cir. 2018). The defendant city and police officers were represented by Mike Bersani and David Mathues.

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