A man in Illinois who has been in jail since March of 2018 has filed a $10 million “pro se civil” lawsuit against Harrah’s Joliet Casino. He’s also seeking an apology.
Police arrested Darryl Allen, now 58 years old, in 2018 on allegations that he attacked a woman and her boyfriend at the Joliet casino. Allen was charged with attempted robbery, aggravated assault, and aggravated battery.
The lengthy pretrial proceedings extended into 2020, when COVID-19 hit. The case was continually delayed in 2020.
Allen hasn’t been able to come up with 10 percent of his $150,000 bail to be released. He’s now taking matters into his own untrained legal hands, filing a “pro se civil” lawsuit against the casino. A pro se case is when a plaintiff brings a lawsuit without the assistance of an attorney.
Allen Alleges Race Caused Arrest
Allen contends in his court argument that he was not the attacker, but the victim.
“In March of 2018, I observed a man and a woman coming out of the front door of the Harrah’s Joliet Casino and I said to the lady, ‘Did you have any luck tonight?’ The guy with her took acception (sic) to this and said to me, ‘That’s my wife your (sic) talking to (racial slur) and then he reached in his waist for what I thought was a weapon so I took a knife out to defend himself (sic),” Allen’s lawsuit claims.
The guy pulled a phone out. Thank god. So I tried to get away from him. All the time he was chasing me he was hollering (racial slur) this and (racial slur) that. When I exited the garage onto Jefferson Street the casino’s security guards surrounded me and told me they needed me to cuff up. So I put my hands behind my back,” Allen continued.
Allen’s complaint was filed January 6, 2021, in Illinois’ 12th Judicial Circuit Court. A court review of the case is scheduled for March 12. He’s seeking $10 million, plus “a public apology” from Harrah’s.
Police allege Allen’s story is fiction. Law enforcement says Allen attacked the woman at the front entrance, pressed a knife to her throat, and demanded money. She was able to get away and police apprehended Allen after they arrived on the scene.
The woman later sued Caesars Entertainment, parent company to Harrah’s Joliet, for not having adequate security on the premises. That case is also ongoing.
Odds Long for Self-Representation Success
Judges often dismiss pro se cases due to legal errors, and in the event that they are allowed to advance, attorneys representing the defendant have a strong advantage in knowing court procedures and the substantive laws that might apply to the case.
“Pro se litigants often lose because they do not know or understand the substantive law or the rules of procedure, which is a significant handicap,” explains James Juo, a defense attorney in Colorado.
That isn’t to say that pro se civil lawsuits don’t sometimes work, especially in more trivial matters.
“Pro se parties win cases all the time, especially for smaller matters,” said New Jersey attorney Daniel Levy. “Having said that, lawyers are trained and experienced in their fields of practice.”
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