United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
L. Maloney, United States District Judge
action purports to be a removal of a civil action filed by
Plaintiff in Muskegon County. In the attached state-court
complaint, Plaintiff appears to seeks state habeas corpus
relief from his 2016 convictions for armed robbery, Mich.
Comp. Laws § 750.529, and second-offense felony firearm,
Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227b, on which he is serving
prison terms of 25 to 38 years and 5 years, respectively. 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) and 1915A(b). 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 because
it is frivolous.
allegations are difficult to decipher, in large measure
because he casts his claims as a sovereign-citizen case, in
which he purports to proceed as “Agent El-Amin
Muhammad, In Jure Proprio Petitioner For: Plaintiff/Property
EL-AMIN MUHMMAD #242898[.]” (Compl., ECF No. 1,
PageID.1 (emphasis in original).) Based on his allegations,
Plaintiff appears to adhere to the “sovereign
citizen” theory, claiming to be controlled only by
admiralty law and the Uniform Commercial Code. He contends
that the arrest warrant was exercised against a “legal
fiction commercial name in all caps ELAMIN MUHAMMAD”
(Pl.'s Aff., ECF No. 1-2, Page ID.28) without a
security-for-performance bond, as required for maritime and
bankruptcy liens. Absent such proper security documents, he
argues, the court lacked jurisdiction over his criminal case.
appears to seek relief from his imprisonment.
face of the pleading, Plaintiff declares his intent to remove
a state habeas complaint from the Muskegon County Circuit
Court to this Court. As the plaintiff who filed the action,
Plaintiff has no authority to remove his civil case to
federal court under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). See
Id. (providing that only a defendant or
defendants may file a notice of removal). The Court
therefore lacks jurisdiction over the case. As a consequence,
to the extent that Plaintiff seeks to remove his state-court
civil complaint, the case must be remanded to the Muskegon
County Circuit Court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
Plaintiff may intend to remove his criminal case to this
Court. A state defendant may remove his criminal prosecution
only as provided in 28 U.S.C. § 1443. This section
permits removal of a criminal action by a defendant:
(1) Against any person who is denied or cannot enforce in the
courts of [a] State a right under any law providing for the
equal civil rights of citizens of the United States, or of
all persons within the jurisdiction thereof;
(2) For any act under color of authority derived from any law
providing for equal rights, or for refusing to do any act on
the ground that it would be inconsistent with such law.
28 U.S.C. § 1443. With respect to subsection (1), a
removal petition must satisfy a two-pronged test. See
Johnson v. Mississippi, 421 U.S. 213 (1975).
“First, it must appear that the right allegedly denied
the removal petitioner arises under a federal law
‘providing for specific civil rights stated in terms of
racial equality.' ” Johnson, 421 U.S. at
219 (quoting State of Georgia v. Rachel, 384 U.S.
780, 792 (1966)). Claims that prosecution and conviction will
violate rights under constitutional or statutory provisions
of general applicability or under statutes not protecting
against racial discrimination, will not suffice. That a
removal petitioner will be denied due process of law because
the criminal law under which he is being prosecuted is
allegedly vague or that the prosecution is assertedly a sham,
corrupt, or without evidentiary basis does not, standing
alone, satisfy the requirements of § 1443(1).
Id. (citing City of Greenwood v. Peacock,
384 U.S. 808, 825 (1966)). Second, a petitioner must show
that he cannot enforce the specified federal right in state
court. Johnson, 421 U.S. at 219. “This
provision normally requires that the denial be manifest in a
formal expression of state law, such as a state legislative
or constitutional provision, rather than a denial first made
manifest in the trial of the case.” Id.
(quoting Rachel, 384 U.S. at 799, 803) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
does not allege that his arrest or conviction would violate a
federal law designed to protect him from racial inequalities.
In addition, his petition wholly fails to satisfy the second
prong because he fails to allege a “formal expression
of state law, ” § 1443(1), that prohibits his
enforcing his federal rights in state court. As the United
States Supreme Court has explained:
It is not enough to support removal under § 1443(1) to
allege or show that the defendant's federal equal civil
rights have been illegally and corruptly denied by state
administrative officials in advance of trial, that the
charges against the defendant are false, or that the
defendant is unable to obtain a fair trial in a particular
state court. The motives of the officers bringing the charges
may be corrupt, but that does not show that the state trial
court will find the defendant guilty if he is innocent, or
that in any other manner the defendant will be “denied
or cannot enforce in the courts” of the State any right
under a federal law providing for equal civil rights. The
civil rights removal statute does not require and does not
permit the judges of the federal courts to put their brethren
of the state judiciary on trial. Under § 1443(1), the
vindication of the defendant's federal rights is left to
the state courts except in the ...