April 24, 2023

On March 30, 2023, Judge Colin Bruce denied a plaintiff’s motion to reconsider his decision to grant summary judgment in favor of two officers who were working at the time for the Vermilion County Metropolitan Enforcement Group (VMEG). In that case, a man had walked up to a residence in the middle of the day during a drug sweep which was occurring inside the house.  When the man walked off the nearby sidewalk and started to walk up to the porch of the home, the two agents exited the front door. The two VMEG officers subsequently frisked the man, and the man was found with a gun, thousands in cash and illicit drugs on his person. However, the ensuing federal criminal trial ended prematurely after the judge in the case ruled that the officers did not have probable cause to frisk the man because he had been frisked not because of articulable probable cause but instead simply because he had entered the search perimeter while the sweep of the house was ongoing.

After the criminal case was dropped, the man tried to turn the tables on the officers, filing a civil suit under 42 USC § 1983.  Judge Bruce, however, found that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity.  More recently, Judge Bruce denied the man’s motion to reconsider, explaining that such motions only serve a limited function—to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.  Judge Bruce observed that motions to reconsider should only be sparingly filed and granted, given their limited nature.  The Court found that a motion to reconsider is not an appropriate forum to rehash previously rejected arguments or arguing matters that could but were not raised previously.  In this instance, Judge Bruce ruled that the man was not raising any new arguments in his motion to reconsider, nor had he indicated any change in the law.  Judge Bruce further explained that, although the court in the criminal case had previously granted the man’s motion to suppress evidence in the criminal case, that ruling did not foreclose summary judgment, particularly since the court had granted summary judgment in the civil case on the basis of qualified immunity.  More specifically, the Court had found that the man’s right to not be searched under the circumstances was not clearly established, thus entitling defendants to qualified immunity.  Michael Condon and Jason Rose represented the two VMEG agents in the lawsuit.

Lewis (III) v. City of Danville, et al.

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