CHICAGO (CN) – A man with 13 arrests under his belt in a four-year period does not have a civil rights case against his arresting officers, the 7th Circuit found.
Kevin Sroga “keeps the Chicago police busy,” Judge Richard Posner wrote for a three-judge panel. “He is also a prolific civil litigant.” Sroga was arrested 13 times between November 2003 and January 2008.
He filed suit in 2008 against five Chicago cops, challenging the constitutionality of three of his arrests that never resulted in prosecution and demanding damages.
The first of the three arrests was for disorderly conduct, a charge leveled because Sroga had jumped into his moving car while city employees towed it away.
The second arrest, several months later, also stemmed from parking dispute involving a tow truck. While the city tried to remove several of Sroga’s vehicles from his vacant lot, Sroga got into one of the cars. An officer who arrived on the scene then noticed a Chicago Police Department ticket book on the dashboard of one of the vehicles, and arrested Sroga on suspicion that he had stolen the ticket book.
One year later, as he left the police station after yet another arrest, Sroga walked into a parking lot reserved for police personnel. Allegedly taking a shortcut to a nearby train station, Sroga was observed walking in between rows of cars and peering into windows. He was arrested for criminal trespass on state-supported land.
Sroga appealed the summary-judgment dismissal of his suit, which claimed that these arrests violated his right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment.
The 7th Circuit quickly disposed of Sroga’s claims regarding the first two arrests. Regardless of their proffered reasons, police had probable cause to arrest Sroga for resisting a peace officer.
“Sroga’s third arrest, for criminal trespass to ‘state-supported’ land, is the only one whose conformity to the Fourth Amendment might be questioned,” Posner wrote.
Though police could not arrest Sroga simply because he took a shortcut through their parking lot, “it was Sroga’s shenanigans in the lot – his peering into the police cars” – that gave probable cause.
“Summary judgment was rightly granted on all three of Sroga’s claims,” the court held. “But we have to say that Chicago law enforcement does not emerge from its struggles with Sroga with its escutcheon untarnished.”