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Harris v. Michigan Parole Board

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

July 8, 2015

RONALD CHESTER HARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHIGAN PAROLE BOARD, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER SUMMARILY DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT

ARTHUR J. TARNOW, Senior District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Ronald Chester Harris, a state prisoner at Baraga Correctional Facility in Baraga, Michigan, recently filed a pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The defendant is the Michigan Parole Board.

Plaintiff alleges in his complaint that he is serving an Oakland County sentence for one and a half to twenty years and that he has served his minimum sentence. He claims that he is entitled to release on parole because (1) this is the first time the Michigan Department of Corrections has had custody of him, (2) his parole guideline score was favorable, (3) he has incurred no prison misconduct charges, and (4) he has completed all the tasks required of him by the Department of Corrections. Plaintiff asserts that the Parole Board is withholding parole under the guise that he failed to complete a program, which, in Plaintiff's opinion, is unnecessary. Plaintiff seeks $500, 000.00 in damages and "judicial review of the Parole Board[']s failure to act within a timely fashion." Compl. at 3.

II. Analysis

A. Legal Framework

Due to Plaintiff's indigence, the Court has granted him permission to proceed without prepayment of the fees and costs for this action. When screening a prisoner's complaint, a federal district court

must examine both [28 U.S.C.] § 1915(e)(2) and [28 U.S.C.] § 1915A. If the civil action seeks redress from a governmental entity, officer, or employee, the district court must dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, which (a) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or (b) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from monetary relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A.

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).

"In determining whether a prisoner has failed to state a claim, [courts] construe his complaint in the light most favorable to him, accept his factual allegations as true, and determine whether he can prove any set of facts that would entitle him to relief." Harbin-Bey v. Rutter, 420 F.3d 571, 575 (6th Cir. 2005). While a complaint "does not need 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). In other words, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "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." Id.

B. Application

1. Eleventh Amendment Immunity

The only defendant in this case is the Michigan Parole Board, which "is an entity within the [Michigan Department of Corrections], see Mich. Comp. Laws § 791.231a, and the [Michigan Department of Corrections] is, in turn, an administrative agency within the executive branch of Michigan's government. See Mich. Const. 1963, art. 5, § 2; In re Parole of Bivings, 242 Mich.App. 363; 619 N.W.2d 163, 167-68 (Mich. Ct. App. 2000)." Fleming v. Martin, 24 F.Appx. 258, 259 (6th Cir. 2001). As a state entity, "the Parole Board is immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment." Id .; see also Lee v. Mich. Parole Bd., 104 F.Appx. 490, ...


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