United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
L. Maloney United States District Judge.
a mandamus action brought by a state prisoner, ostensibly
pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. The Court has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed
in forma pauperis. Under the Prison Litigation
Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996), the
Court is required to dismiss any prisoner action brought
under federal law if the complaint is frivolous, malicious,
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or
seeks monetary relief from a defendant immune from such
relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A. The Court
must read Plaintiff's pro se complaint
indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520
(1972), and accept Plaintiff's allegations as true,
unless they are clearly irrational or wholly incredible.
Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992).
Applying these standards, Plaintiff's action will be
dismissed for failure to state a claim.
Dustin MacLeod is presently incarcerated with the Michigan
Department of Corrections and housed at the Ojibway
Correctional Facility (OCF). He sues Cheboygan County Circuit
Judge Scott Pavlich.
complaint for mandamus,  Plaintiff contends that he was denied
due process and fundamental fairness in his criminal trial
before Defendant Pavlich. Plaintiff also asserts that the
state court lacked jurisdiction to convict him, because he is
a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
and a resident of trial lands and therefore is subject to the
exclusive jurisdiction of the tribal courts.
relief, Plaintiff seeks a declaration that his convictions
are void due to a lack of personal and subject matter
jurisdiction, together with release from imprisonment.
Failure to state a claim
complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it
fails “‘to give the defendant fair notice of what
the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355
U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While a complaint need not contain
detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's allegations
must include more than labels and conclusions.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“Threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”). The
court must determine whether the complaint contains
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” 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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 679. Although the plausibility standard is not equivalent
to a “‘probability requirement, ' . . . it
asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[W]here
the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more
than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged - but it has not ‘show[n]' - that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)); see also Hill
v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding
that the Twombly/Iqbal plausibility standard applies
to dismissals of prisoner cases on initial review under 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)).
extent that Plaintiff claims to have filed a mandamus action,
he fails to state a claim. Title 28 U.S.C. § 1361
confers jurisdiction only over mandamus actions to compel
action by federal, not state, officials or employees. Federal
courts have no authority to issue writs of mandamus to direct
state officials to conform their conduct to state law.
Pennhurst State School & Hospital v. Halderman,
465 U.S. 89 (1984); Haggard v. Tennessee, 421 F.2d
1384 (6th Cir. 1970). Therefore, the Court may not maintain
jurisdiction over Petitioner's action pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1361.
reliance on Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(3) and (4) as a source of
remedy is also misplaced. Rule 60(b)(3) permits relief from a
federal court judgment where an adverse party in the federal
case has committed fraud or misconduct before the court.
See Klapprott v. United States, 335 U.S. 601, 626
(1949); Hazel-Atlas Glass Co. v. Hartford Empire
Co., 322 U.S. 238 (1944). Under Rule 60(b)(4), a party
to a federal civil action may seek relief from a final
judgment of the federal district court on the ground that it
is void. Both provisions provide relief only from a federal
court judgment. Plaintiff, however, does not challenge a
civil judgment of the federal court. He challenges the
validity of a criminal judgment of the state court.
a state prisoner is challenging the very fact or duration of
his physical imprisonment, and the relief he seeks is a
determination that he is entitled to immediate release or a
speedier release from that imprisonment, his sole federal
remedy is a writ of habeas corpus.” Preiser v.
Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973). A Rule 60(b) motion
for relief from judgment is not an appropriate vehicle for a
state prisoner to attempt to have his criminal conviction set
aside. See United States v. Pope, 124 F. App'x
680, 682 (2nd Cir. 2005). Although a Rule 60(b) motion may be
used “to set aside a habeas denial” in certain
limited circumstances, such a motion “does not itself
seek habeas relief.” Id. (quoting Harris
v. United States, 367 F.3d 74, 80 (2d Cir. 2004)).
Plaintiff is not seeking to set aside a denial of habeas
relief in this case and, therefore, a Rule 60(b) motion is
review of Plaintiff's complaint shows that he is
challenging the validity of his state court criminal
conviction and that he seeks to have that conviction vacated
or set aside. Plaintiff's sole federal remedy to
challenge his state court conviction would be by ...