Case: Silagy v. Thompson

1:90-cv-05028 | U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

Filed Date: Aug. 28, 1990

Closed Date: 1991

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On August 28, 1990, Charles Silagy, a death-sentenced inmate at the Stateville Penitentiary in Illinois, filed a class-action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the Illinois Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The plaintiff alleged that his constitutional rights would be violated by the use of a barbituate, a paralytic agent, and potassium chloride in a non-continuous sequence during the lethal injection process, and he asked the court…

On August 28, 1990, Charles Silagy, a death-sentenced inmate at the Stateville Penitentiary in Illinois, filed a class-action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the Illinois Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The plaintiff alleged that his constitutional rights would be violated by the use of a barbituate, a paralytic agent, and potassium chloride in a non-continuous sequence during the lethal injection process, and he asked the court to order the defendants to insure that enough barbiturate is given to render him insensate before the other chemicals are administered.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Judge James Block Zagel) declined to certify the class, reasoning that the class was not so numerous and dispersed as to require a class action, and that the plaintiff did not seem to be a good class representative. The plaintiff appealed, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision.

Following the Seventh Circuit ruling, Silagy decided that he wanted to opt out of the case, and another death-sentenced inmate, Ronald Barrow, expressed a wish to take Silagy's place as plaintiff. On February 7, 1991, the District Court (Judge Zagel) granted Silagy's motion to dismiss his suit and well as Barrows' motion to join the case as plaintiff. The court then addressed the plaintiff's concerns as follows:

1) The plaintiff argued that procedural due process is denied when a prison is executed by a method not prescribed by statute, meaning that the statute creates an enforceable right to execution in a set manner, and that this right cannot be taken away without due process of law. The court held this argument to be without merit, finding that the statute prescribing lethal injection was not intended to benefit the one to be executed, noting that a statute does not create an enforceable right unless the provision in question is intended to benefit the plaintiff.

2) The plaintiff argued that substantive due process is denied by a method of execution not expressly authorized by law. The court held this argument to be without merit, finding that cases which do not offend the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution cannot present separate questions of substantive due process.

3) The plaintiff argued that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The court held this argument to be without merit, finding that a few minutes of pain has never been held to render a method of execution unconstitutional, and holding that the state does not have a duty to make its chosen method of execution as painless as possible.

In light of these considerations, the court dismissed the complaint. Silagy v. Thompson, No. 90-5028, 1991 WL 18418 (N.D.Ill. Feb. 7, 1991). The plaintiff appealed, and the defendants asked the Seventh Circuit to dismiss the case. On November 1, 1991, the Seventh Circuit (Judges William Joseph Bauer, Richard Allen Posner, and Michale Stephen Kanne) dismissed the case.

Our Pacer docket, which is accurate as of September 3, 2007, ends here, and we have no further information on the case.

Summary Authors

Kristen Sagar (9/3/2007)

People


Judge(s)

Zagel, James Block (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Atschuler, Stuart (Illinois)

Bailinson, James P (Maine)

Bradford, David J (Illinois)

Chessen, Rick Charles (Illinois)

Furlow, Brenda Swierenga (Illinois)

Harrop, Blake Lee (Illinois)

Hirshman, Harold C. (Illinois)

Millner, Robert B (Illinois)

Villarreal, Elpidio R (Illinois)

Judge(s)

Zagel, James Block (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Atschuler, Stuart (Illinois)

Bailinson, James P (Maine)

Bradford, David J (Illinois)

Chessen, Rick Charles (Illinois)

Furlow, Brenda Swierenga (Illinois)

Harrop, Blake Lee (Illinois)

Hirshman, Harold C. (Illinois)

Millner, Robert B (Illinois)

Villarreal, Elpidio R (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Donatelli, Jack (Illinois)

Ficaro, Michael Andrew (Illinois)

Finke, Jeffrey Wayne (Illinois)

Graham, Scott (Illinois)

Hartigan, Neil F. (Illinois)

Madsen, Terence (Illinois)

Novak, Rita (Illinois)

Rotert, Mark L (Illinois)

Ryan, James E. (Illinois)

Stewart, Roma J. (Illinois)

Yuhas, Daniel D. (Illinois)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Trial Docket

Nov. 25, 1991 Docket

Appellate Docket (PACER)

Stewart v. Thompson

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Nov. 25, 1991 Docket

Opinion

People v. Silagy

Illinois state supreme court

507 N.E.2d 830

April 16, 1987 Order/Opinion

[Denial of Certiorari]

Silagy v. Illinios

Supreme Court of the United States

484 U.S. 873

Oct. 5, 1987 Order/Opinion
53

Memorandum Opinion and Order

1991 WL 18418

Feb. 7, 1991 Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
44

MOTION by plaintiff for leave to amend ; Notice of motion. (is) (Entered: 10/19/1990)

Oct. 16, 1990
45

MINUTE ORDER of 10/16/90 before Honorable James B. Zagel : Filed plaintiff's motion for leave to amend. [44-1] Reply to answer brief and sur-reply due by 23 Oct 90. Ruling on defendant motion to dismiss to made by 31 Oct 90. Notice not mailed. (is) (Entered: 10/19/1990)

Oct. 16, 1990
46

RESPONSE by defendants in opposition to plaintiffs' motion to amend. [44-1] (is) (Entered: 10/19/1990)

Oct. 16, 1990
47

MOTION by defendants to stay discovery until resolution of the pending motion to dismiss ,or in the alternative to enter a protective order (Exhibits); Notice of motion. (is) (Entered: 10/19/1990)

Oct. 16, 1990
48

MINUTE ORDER of 10/16/90 before Honorable James B. Zagel : Filed defendants' motion to stay discovery until resolution of the pending motion to dismiss or in the alternative to enter a protective order. Motion entered and continued. Protective order documents to be submitted to the court in camera. [47-1], [47-2] Notice not mailed. (is) (Entered: 10/19/1990)

Oct. 16, 1990
49

SUPPLEMENTAL MEMORANDUM by plaintiff opposing defendants' motion to dismiss. (is) (Entered: 10/19/1990)

Oct. 17, 1990

FILED 10/23/90: Letter from the USCA for the 7th Circuit Court returning the complete record on appeal, consisting of: 1 volume of pleadings and 4 volumes of transcripts (USCA No. 90-2956). (is) (Entered: 10/29/1990)

Oct. 23, 1990
50

CERTIFIED copy of Order from the USCA for the 7th Circuit Court dated 09/28/90: It is ordered that the motion is granted and this appeal is dismissed, pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 42(b). (USCA No. 90-2956). (is) (Entered: 10/29/1990)

Oct. 23, 1990
51

TRANSCRIPT of proceedings for the following date(s): 10/16/90 Before Honorable James B. Zagel. (is) (Entered: 11/06/1990)

Nov. 2, 1990
55

AMENDED COMPLAINT by plaintiffs (dmkf) (Entered: 02/07/1991)

Feb. 4, 1991
52

ENTERED JUDGEMENT. Clerk. (dmkf) (Entered: 02/07/1991)

Feb. 5, 1991
53

MEMORANDUM, OPINION, AND ORDER (dmkf) (Entered: 02/07/1991)

Feb. 5, 1991
56

NOTICE OF APPEAL by plaintiff Walter Stewart and plaintiff Ronald Barrow from minute order [54-2], from order [53-1] and from judgment entered [52-1] ($105.00 paid). (fce) (Entered: 03/05/1991)

March 4, 1991
57

JURISDICTIONAL STATEMENT filed by plaintiffs Walter Stewart and Ronald Barrow's attorney Stuart Altschuler. (fce) (Entered: 03/05/1991)

March 4, 1991

TRANSMITTED 03/05/91: Short record on appeal to the USCA for the 7th Circuit consisting of due date transmittal letter, file stamped copy of Notice of Appeal, Jurisdictional Statement, 7th Circuit Appeal Information Sheet, copy of appealed order #'s 54/53/52 and copy of docket entries. (fce) (Entered: 03/05/1991)

March 5, 1991

MAILED 03/05/91: To all counsel of record copy of Notice of Appeal, Jurisdictional Statement and Circuit Rule 10 letter, with copy of orders, docket entries and 7th Circuit Transcript Information Sheet to plaintiffs Walter Stewart and Ronald Barrow's attorney Stuart Altschuler. (fce) (Entered: 03/05/1991)

March 5, 1991

Forwarded 03/05/91: Copy of Notice of Appeal, Jurisdictional Statement and letter regarding F.R.A.P. 10 due date letter to Honorable James Zagel. (fce) (Entered: 03/05/1991)

March 5, 1991
58

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of receipt of short record on appeal USCA 91-1470 (dmkf) (Entered: 03/08/1991)

March 7, 1991
59

RECORD DESIGNATIONS by plaintiffs-appellants (dmkf) (Entered: 03/08/1991)

March 7, 1991

TRANSMITTED 03/19/91 complete record on appeal to USCA for the 7th Circuit consisting of transmittal letter, one volume of pleadings, five volumes of transcript of proceedings (Item Nos. 29-1 through 29-5 & 51) and certificate. (fce) (Entered: 03/18/1991)

March 18, 1991

MAILED 03/19/91: Copy of certificates, transmittal letter and list of documents to all counsel of record. (fce) (Entered: 03/18/1991)

March 18, 1991
60

MOTION by plaintiff to supplement record on appeal [145-1] (Attachment) ; notice of motion. (dmkf) (Entered: 08/05/1991)

Aug. 2, 1991
61

MINUTE ORDER of 8/2/91 before Honorable James B. Zagel : Plaintiffs' motion to supplement record on appeal is denied for the reasons stated in open court. [45-1] [60-1] Notice not mailed. (dmkf) (Entered: 08/05/1991)

Aug. 2, 1991
62

TRANSCRIPT of proceedings for the following date(s): 08/02/91 Before Honorable James B. Zagel (One volume). (fce) (Entered: 09/06/1991)

Sept. 5, 1991

MAILED: Copy of certificate and transmittal letter regarding supplement to record appeal [56-1] to counsel of record. (dmkf) (Entered: 09/18/1991)

Sept. 18, 1991
63

CERTIFIED COPY of order from the USCA for the 7th Circuit entered 11/01/91 : It is ordered and adjudged dismissing the appeal [56-1] (ldg) (Entered: 11/26/1991)

Nov. 25, 1991
64

LETTER from the USCA for the 7th Circuit Court returning the complete record on appeal, regarding appeal [56-1] consisting of: l volumes of pleadings, 5 volumes of transcripts. (ldg) (Entered: 11/26/1991)

Nov. 25, 1991

State / Territory: Illinois

Case Type(s):

Criminal Justice (Other)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Aug. 28, 1990

Closing Date: 1991

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

all death-sentenced prisoners of the State of Illinois

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: Unknown

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Illinois Department of Corrections, State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Due Process

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Issues

Death Penalty:

Lethal Injection - General