United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
HENRY L. HENCE, JR., Plaintiff,
THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, WAYNE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, and JUDGE ULYSSES W. BOYKIN, Defendants.
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
G. Edmunds UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
L. Hence, Jr. (“Plaintiff”) has filed a pro
se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff is a state prisoner at the Ionia Correctional
Facility in Ionia, Michigan. He has been convicted of
first-degree murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.316, and
conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 750.157a, and is serving two concurrent sentences of
life imprisonment. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed
Plaintiff's convictions on direct appeal, People v.
Hence, 312 N.W.2d 191 (Mich. Ct. App. 1981), and
Plaintiff's motions for a new trial were denied. His
petition for the writ of habeas corpus also was denied.
See Hence v. Smith, 37 F.Supp.2d 970 (E.D. Mich.
filed his current complaint on November 14, 2016. The
defendants are the State of Michigan, the Wayne County
Circuit Court, and Wayne County Circuit Judge Ulysses W.
Boykin. Plaintiff sues the defendants in their official
capacities for a declaratory judgment.
claims to have newly discovered evidence proving that he is
actually innocent of the crimes for which he is incarcerated.
He contends that, when he attempted to bring this issue to
the state court's attention in a motion for relief from
judgment, the trial court's successor (Judge Boykin)
ignored the issue, as well as many other issues, and violated
his rights under state and federal law. Plaintiff seeks a
declaratory judgment stating that the defendants have
deprived him of his right to due process and equal protection
of the law during post-conviction proceedings in state court.
plaintiff must prove two elements to prevail on a claim under
42 U.S.C. § 1983: “(1) that he or she was deprived
of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States; and (2) that the deprivation was caused by a person
acting under color of law.” Robertson v.
Lucas, 753 F.3d 606, 614 (6th Cir. 2014). Pursuant to
the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, federal district
courts must screen a prisoner's complaint and 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)(B) 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, 490 U.S. 319, 325
complaint is subject to dismissal for failure to state a
claim if the allegations, taken as true, show the plaintiff
is not entitled to relief.” Jones v. Bock, 549
U.S. 199, 215 (2007). 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.”
complaint is frivolous and fails to state a claim for a few
reasons. First, the Eleventh Amendment bars suits against a
state unless the state has consented to suit. Alabama v.
Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978) (per curiam).
“The state of Michigan . . . has not consented to being
sued in civil rights actions in the federal courts, ”
Johnson v. Unknown Dellatifa, 357 F.3d 539,
545 (6th Cir. 2004), and “Congress did not intend to
abrogate the states' Eleventh Amendment immunity by
passing section 1983.” Thiokol Corp. v.
Dep't of Treasury, State of Mich., Revenue Div., 987
F.2d 376, 383 (6th Cir. 1993) (citing Quern v.
Jordan, 440 U.S. 332 (1979)). Further, Eleventh
is far reaching. It bars all suits, whether for injunctive,
declaratory or monetary relief, against the state and its
departments, Pennhurst State School & Hospital v.
Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100-01, 104 S.Ct. 900, 908, 79
L.Ed.2d 67 (1984), by citizens of another state, foreigners
or its own citizens. Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1,
10 S.Ct. 504, 33 L.Ed. 842 (1890).
Id. at 381. Thus, the State of Michigan is not a
proper defendant here.
a state court is not a “person” for purposes of
§ 1983. Mumford v. Zieba, 4 F.3d 429, 435 (6th
Cir. 1993) (citing Foster v. Walsh, 864 F.2d 416,
418 (6th Cir. 1988)). Consequently the Wayne County Circuit
Court also is not a proper defendant here.
Plaintiff is not entitled to relief on the basis of his claim
that Judge Boykin failed to comply with Michigan court rules
and Supreme Court standards when he ruled on Plaintiff's
motion for relief from judgment. Plaintiff's present
allegations are inextricably intertwined with Judge