United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER SUMMARILY DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT
AND CERTIFYING THAT AN APPEAL COULD NOT BE TAKEN IN GOOD
F. COX, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on its own review of Michigan
prisoners Benjamin Caulton, Jabar Evans, and Benjamin
Carters' pro se civil rights complaint.
Plaintiff Caulton is incarcerated at the Bellamy Creek
Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan, and Plaintiffs
Evans and Carter are incarcerated at the Cooper Street
Correctional Facility in Jackson, Michigan. All three
defendants assert they are incarcerated as a result of
criminal sexual conduct convictions.
complaint alleges that Michigan's criminal sexual conduct
laws are unconstitutional because they allow a criminal
defendant to be convicted based solely on the testimony of
the victim without requiring corroborating medical evidence.
Plaintiffs also allege that the criminal sexual conduct laws
are being interpreted to allow victims to “change their
story, ” and that they are also being applied in a way
that violates double jeopardy. Plaintiffs allege that
Defendant, the Governor of the State of Michigan, is
responsible for the enforcement of the allegedly
unconstitutional laws. Plaintiffs seek “immediate
release along with payment of five million dollars to each
Plaintiff.” Dkt 1, at 4.
have been granted leave to proceed without prepayment of the
filing fee for this action. The Prison Litigation Reform Act
of 1996 requires federal district courts to screen a
prisoner's complaint and to dismiss the complaint if it
is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim for which
relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A; Flanory v. Bonn,
604 F.3d 249, 252 (6th Cir. 2010); 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, Sr., 490 U.S. 319,
state a federal civil rights claim, a plaintiff must allege
that: (1) he was deprived of a right, privilege, or immunity
secured by the federal Constitution or laws of the United
States, and (2) the deprivation was caused by a person acting
under color of state law. Flagg Bros. v. Brooks, 436
U.S. 149, 155-57 (1978). A pro se civil rights complaint is
to be construed liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404
U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).
complaint alleges that the criminal statutes that led to
their state convictions are unconstitutional, and that their
convictions must therefore be invalidated.
claims are barred by the favorable-termination requirement
set forth in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).
Under the Heck doctrine, a state prisoner may not
file a § 1983 suit for damages or equitable relief
challenging his conviction or sentence if a ruling on the
claim would render the conviction or sentence invalid, until
and unless the conviction or sentence has been reversed on
direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid
by a state tribunal, or called into question by a federal
court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. Id.
at 486-87; Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 81-82
(2005) (“[A] state prisoner's § 1983 action is
barred (absent prior invalidation)- no matter the relief
sought (damages or equitable relief), no matter the target of
the prisoner's suit (state conduct leading to conviction
or internal prison proceedings) - if success in that action
would necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of confinement
or its duration.”). This holds true regardless of the
relief sought by the plaintiff. Heck, 512 U.S. at
487-89. The underlying basis for the holding in Heck
is that “civil tort actions are not appropriate
vehicles for challenging the validity of outstanding criminal
judgments.” Heck, 512 U.S. at 486. If
Plaintiffs were to prevail on their claims concerning the
validity of their criminal proceedings, their convictions and
continued confinement would be called into question.
Consequently, such claims are barred by Heck and
must be dismissed. This dismissal is without prejudice. See
Hodge v. City of Elyria, 126 F. App'x 222, 223
(6th Cir. 2005) (holding that a case dismissed pursuant to
Heck should be dismissed without prejudice so that plaintiff
may re-assert claims if plaintiff obtains reversal or
expungement of convictions).
CONCLUSION & ORDER
IT IS ORDERED THAT the complaint is summarily dismissed under
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b) because the
claims are barred by Heck v. Humphrey.
FURTHER ORDERED THAT an appeal from this order would be
frivolous and could not be taken in good faith. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a)(3); Coppedge ...