United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER OF SUMMARY DISMISSAL.
VICTORIA A. ROBERTS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a pro se civil rights case brought pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Michigan prisoner Anthony Lynch-Bey
(“Plaintiff”), currently serving a life sentence
for second-degree murder, alleges that his constitutional
rights were violated during his state court post-conviction
collateral review proceedings. He names Wayne County
Prosecutor Kym Worthy and Wayne County Circuit Court Judges
David Allen and Mark T. Slavens as defendants. At the time of
the events giving rise to the complaint, Worthy served as a
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge and as Wayne County
Prosecutor. Plaintiff sues the defendants in their personal
and official capacities and seeks injunctive relief and
monetary damages. The Court granted Plaintiff leave to
proceed without prepayment of filing fees. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1).
the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996
(“PLRA”), the Court is required to sua
sponte dismiss an in forma pauperis 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. 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. 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).
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a complaint set
forth “a short and plain statement of the claim showing
that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” as well as
“a demand for the relief sought.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2), (3). The purpose of this rule is to “give the
defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the
grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley
v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957) and Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2)). While such notice pleading does not require
detailed factual allegations, it does require more than the
bare assertion of legal conclusions. Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555. Rule 8 “demands more than an unadorned,
the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me accusation.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
“A pleading that offers ‘labels and
conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.'”
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
“Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders
‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further
factual enhancement.'” Id. (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 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); Harris v.
Circleville, 583 F.3d 356, 364 (6th Cir. 2009). A
pro se civil rights complaint is to be construed
liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21
(1972). Despite the liberal pleading standard accorded
pro se plaintiffs, the Court finds that
Plaintiff's Prisoner Civil Rights Complaint is subject to
the Court notes that to the extent Plaintiff challenges his
state criminal convictions and continued confinement, he
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under
42 U.S.C. § 1983. A claim under § 1983 is an
appropriate remedy for a state prisoner challenging a
condition of his imprisonment, see Preiser v.
Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 499 (1973), not the validity of
continued confinement. See Heck v. Humphrey, 512
U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994) (holding that a state prisoner does
not state a cognizable civil rights claim challenging his
imprisonment if a ruling on his claim would necessarily
render his continuing confinement invalid, until and unless
the reason for his continued confinement has been reversed on
direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid
by a state tribunal, or has been called into question by a
federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus under
28 U.S.C. § 2254). This holds true regardless of the
relief sought by the plaintiff. Id. at 487-89.
and other Supreme Court cases, “taken together,
indicate that 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.” Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544
U.S. 74, 81-82 (2005).
stated, “civil tort actions are not appropriate
vehicles for challenging the validity of outstanding criminal
judgments.” Heck, 512 U.S. at 486. If
Plaintiff were to prevail on any claims concerning the
validity of his criminal convictions, his continued
confinement could be called into question. Such claims are
barred by Heck and must be dismissed.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
challenges the constitutionality of his state post-judgment
collateral review proceedings. In part, he raises a due
process “as applied” challenge to certain
provisions of Michigan collateral review statute, Michigan
Court Rule 6.500 et seq. The Court, however, lacks
the authority to review any such claims under the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine, Rooker v. Fidelity
Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923); District of Columbia
Ct. of App. v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983), which
“holds that lower federal courts lack subject matter
jurisdiction to engage in appellate review of state court
proceedings or to adjudicate claims ‘inextricably
intertwined' with issues decided in state court
proceedings.” Peterson Novelties, Inc. v. City of
Berkley, 305 F.3d 386, 390 (6th Cir. 2002); see also
Hutcherson v. Lauderdale Co., Tenn., 326 F.3d 747, 755
(6th Cir. 2003). “The Rooker-Feldman doctrine
prevents the lower federal courts from exercising
jurisdiction over cases brought by ‘state-court
losers' challenging ‘state-court judgments rendered
before the district court proceedings commenced.'”
Lance v. Dennis, 546 U.S. 459, 460 (2006) (per
curiam) (quoting Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus.
Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005)). The
Rooker-Feldman doctrine applies “when a
plaintiff complains of injury from the state court judgment
itself.” Coles v. Granville, 448 F.3d 853, 858
(6th Cir. 2006). “In determining the applicability of
the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, federal courts . . .
must pay close attention to the relief sought by the
federal-court plaintiff.” Hood v. Keller, 341
F.3d 593, 597 (6th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation omitted).
“If the source of the injury is that state court
decision, then the Rooker-Feldman doctrine would
prevent the district court from asserting jurisdiction. If
there is some other source of injury, such as a third
party's actions, then the plaintiff asserts an
independent claim.” McCormick v. Braverman,
451 F.3d 382, 393 (6th Cir. 2006). The doctrine applies to
attempts to relitigate state court judgments entered before
the federal suit is filed; it does not abrogate concurrent
jurisdiction in federal and state courts, nor is it analogous
to a preclusion doctrine. Exxon Mobil, 544 U.S. at
Rooker-Feldman doctrine is a rule of federal
jurisdiction.” Frederickson v. City of
Lockport, 384 F.3d 437, 438 (7th Cir. 2004).
Consequently, it may be raised sua sponte. Saker
v. National City Corp., 90 F.App'x 816, 818 n.1 (6th
Cir. 2004). When a claim is barred by the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine, a court must dismiss the