A federal judge has dismissed a civil rights lawsuit filed by a man whose 1981 conviction for killing a UW-Madison student was overturned in 2009 because the lawsuit does not identify the people or agencies he alleged violated his rights.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb wrote in a decision last week that Ralph Armstrong, who was convicted of murder for the 1980 rape and strangulation of Charise Kamps, must follow federal rules of procedure when deciding who can be sued for the alleged rights violations.

Armstrong, 60, was released from a state prison after a Dane County judge found that prosecutors violated a court order about the testing of certain evidence. He is currently imprisoned in New Mexico, where he was returned for violating his parole for an earlier crime.

In her decision, Crabb wrote that in filing his lawsuit, which he did without a lawyer in June, Armstrong had to include a short and plain statement giving defendants fair notice of the claim against them and the grounds for the claim.

While Armstrong clearly identified the actions that he believed violated his rights, Crabb wrote, he didn't identify those he intended to sue for those alleged violations.

Armstrong only named the state of Wisconsin as a defendant, Crabb wrote, but the state as an entity cannot be sued.

She wrote that while Armstrong does not have to immediately determine the names of the individuals he intends to sue, he must determine which relevant government entities he can legally sue under federal rules.

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