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Reed v. Gonzalez

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

January 19, 2017

ROMMEL REED, Plaintiff,
v.
RENE GONZALEZ, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER OF DISMISSAL

          AVERN COHN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         This is a pro se civil rights case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. As best as can be gleaned from the complaint, Michigan prisoner Rommel Reed challenges his state criminal proceedings and asserts that he is being denied state records relevant to those proceedings.[1] He names Michigan State Troopers Rene Gonzalez and Robert Prause, Jackson County Detective Sergio Garcia, and Jackson County Assistant Prosecutor Daniel Schwalm as defendants in their personal capacities. He seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages. The Court has granted the plaintiff leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee for this action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). For the reasons that follow, the complaint will be dismissed for failure to state a viable claim under § 1983.

         II. Legal Standard

         The Court must dismiss a complaint before service on a defendant if it determines that the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The Court is similarly required to dismiss a complaint seeking redress against government entities, officers, and employees which it finds to be frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A pro se civil rights complaint is to be construed liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).

         To state a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that: (1) he or she 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); Harris v. Circleville, 583 F.3d 356, 364 (6th Cir. 2009).

         III. Discussion

         A. Criminal Proceedings Claim

         Plaintiff appears, in part, to challenge his state criminal proceedings. To the extent that he does, his claim must be dismissed because it is not a proper claim under § 1983. Although a claim under § 1983 can be brought by a state prisoner challenging a condition of his imprisonment, Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 499 (1973), it cannot be brought to challenge the validity of his confinement. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994).

         Here, if plaintiff were to prevail on his claim that this state criminal proceedings were invalid, his drug convictions and related confinement would be called into question. Thus, his claim is barred by Heck and must be dismissed.

         B. Access to Records

         Plaintiff also appears to assert that he is being denied records from his state criminal proceedings in violation of his due process rights. To the extent that plaintiff claims a violation of the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, Michigan Court Rule 6.433, or any other provision of state law, he fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. It is well-settled that such state law violations are not a proper basis for relief under § 1983. Pyles v. Raisor, 60 F.3d 1211, 1215 (6th Cir.1995). Moreover, there is no general due process right of access to state court records on collateral review in criminal proceedings. See, e.g., United States v. MacCollum, 426 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1976) (no constitutional right to transcripts on collateral review of a conviction).

         Even liberally construing plaintiff's claim as a denial of access to the courts, he is still not entitled to relief. Prisoners, including indigent prisoners, have a constitutional right of access to the courts which the states have a duty to protect. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 821-25 (1977). However, a prisoner's right of access to the courts is limited to direct criminal appeals, habeas corpus applications, and civil rights claims challenging the conditions of confinement. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 355 (1996); Thaddeus-X v. Blatter, 175 F.3d 378, 391 (6th Cir. 1999).

         To state a §1983 claim for the denial of access to the courts, plaintiff must make some showing of prejudice or actual injury as a result of the challenged conduct. Lewis, 518 U.S. at 351; Harbin-Bey v. Rutter, 420 F.3d 571, 578 (6th Cir. 2005) (citing Jackson v. Gill, 92 F. App'x 171, 173 (6th Cir. 2004)). Examples of actual prejudice include having a case dismissed, being unable to file a complaint, and missing a court-imposed deadline. Harbin-Bey, 420 F.3d at 578. Additionally, plaintiff must allege that the deprivation of his rights was the result of intentional conduct to state such a claim. Sims v. Landrum, 170 F. App'x 954, 957 (6th Cir. 2006); Wojnicz v. Davis, 80 F. App'x 382, ...


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