United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT [ECF NO. 1]
LINDA V. PARKER, District Judge.
This matter is pending before the Court on Plaintiff Stanley William Harrison's ("Plaintiff's") pro se complaint for money damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff is presently incarcerated at the St. Louis Correctional Facility in St. Louis, Michigan. Defendants are the Honorable Richard E. Conlin, state district court judge of Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Valerie L. Looby, a certified electronic court reporter in Ann Arbor (collectively "Defendants").
In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that at his preliminary examination on unspecified charges in 2013, Judge Conlin allowed two children to testify without first swearing in the children or ascertaining whether they were qualified to testify. (Pl.'s Compl., ECF No. 1 at Pg. ID 3.) Although Plaintiff's attorney purportedly objected to the children not being qualified or sworn, Ms. Looby allegedly documented that the children were sworn by a court officer even though the swearing or affirmation were not recorded. (Id. ) Plaintiff asserts that as a result of the children's testimony, Plaintiff was bound over to state circuit court for further proceedings. (Id. )
Plaintiff claims that Judge Conlin violated his constitutional rights by allowing the children to testify without being qualified or sworn, and that Ms. Looby committed perjury by documenting that the children were sworn by a court officer. Plaintiff sues the defendants in their personal and official capacities for violations of his rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution. (Id. )
II. Legal Standard
Section 1983 of Title 42, United States Code,
creates a private right of action to vindicate violations of "rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws" of the United States. Under the terms of the statute, "[e]very person' who acts under color of state law to deprive another of a constitutional right [is] answerable to that person in a suit for damages." Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 417, 96 S.Ct. 984, 47 L.Ed.2d 128 (1976) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 1983).
Rehberg v. Paulk, 132 S.Ct. 1497, 1501-02 (2012). "To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must set forth facts that, when construed favorably, establish (1) the deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States (2) caused by a person acting under the color of state law." Sigley v. Parma Heights, 437 F.3d 527, 533 (6th Cir. 2006) (citing West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988), and Searcy v. Dayton, 38 F.3d 282, 286 (6th Cir. 1994)).
The Court must dismiss a prisoner's complaint against a governmental entity, officer, or employee if the Court determines that the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks money damages from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b); Smith v. Campbell, 250 F.3d 1032, 1036 (6th Cir. 2001). A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).
While a complaint need not contain "detailed factual allegations, " the "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (footnote and citations omitted). "So, to survive scrutiny under §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d. 468, 471 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
A. Judge Conlin
As noted above, Plaintiff alleges that Judge Conlin violated his constitutional rights by allowing two children to testify at his preliminary examination without being qualified or sworn. This allegation is frivolous and fails to state a claim because "[t]he immunity of judges for acts within the judicial role is... well established...." Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 554 (1967)). "Judges enjoy absolute immunity from suit for money damages for actions taken in their judicial capacity, except when taken in the complete absence of jurisdiction." In re ...