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. Edward Lee Hilton
(“Plaintiff”), currently confined at the Genesee
County Jail in Flint, Michigan, alleges that John J. Gleason
(“Defendant”), a Genesee County Court Clerk,
refused to file paperwork and motions from August, 2016 to
January, 2017. Plaintiff alleges violations of his right to
compulsory process and his right of access to the courts.
Plaintiff sues Defendant in his official capacity and seeks
injunctive relief. The Court has granted Plaintiff leave to
proceed without prepayment of the filing fees for this action
pursuant to 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). “Factual
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).” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56 (citations
and footnote omitted).
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
the liberal pleading standard accorded pro se
plaintiffs, the Court finds that Plaintiff's Complaint
for Violation of Civil Rights (Prisoner Complaint) is subject
to summary dismissal. First, Plaintiff fails to state a
compulsory process claim in his pleadings. The Compulsory
Process Clause of the Sixth Amendment generally refers to a
criminal defendant's right to have witnesses appear at
trial. It requires a prosecutor to “exercise due
diligence in a good faith effort to secure the attendance of
subpoenaed witnesses.” United States v. Baker,
553 F.2d 1013, 1022 (6th Cir. 1977). To establish a violation
of the right to compulsory process, a criminal defendant must
make a plausible showing that the witness's testimony is
(or was) material and favorable the defense. United
States v. Valenzuela-Bernal, 458 U.S. 858, 867 (1982).
Plaintiff alleges no such facts. Rather, he merely asserts
that his right to compulsory process was violated by
Defendant's alleged failure to file paperwork and motions
in state court. Conclusory allegations are insufficient to
state a claim for relief under § 1983. Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-57;
Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 588 (1998);
Moldowan v. City of Warren, 578 F.3d 351, 390-91
(6th Cir. 2009); Lanier v. Bryant, 332 F.3d 999,
1007 (6th Cir. 2003). Plaintiff fails to state a compulsory
process claim in his pleadings.
Plaintiff fails to state a denial of access to the courts
claim in his pleadings. 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). 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, a
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. No actual injury occurs
without a showing that a non-frivolous claim has been lost or
rejected, or that the presentation of such a claim is being
prevented. Lewis, 518 U.S. at 354-56; Pilgrim v.
Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996).
Additionally, a plaintiff must allege that the deprivation of
rights was the result of intentional conduct. Sims v.
Landrum, 170 F. App'x 954, 957 (6th Cir. 2006);
Wojnicz v. Davis, 80 F. App'x 382, 384 (6th Cir.
2003). An allegation of negligence is insufficient to state
an access to the courts claim under § 1983. Collins
v. City of Harker Hgts., 503 U.S. 115, 127-30 (1992).
case, Plaintiff fails to provide any facts regarding the type
of papers or motions that he attempted to file with the state
court. His pleadings are devoid of any factual details
regarding the nature of the case (or cases) that he attempted
to institute, the type of motions that he attempted to file,
why any of his papers were rejected, the consequences of the
rejections (other than not being able to file), or specific
dates when such actions occurred. Plaintiff fails to allege
or establish that a non-frivolous claim has been lost or
rejected, or that the presentation of such a claim is being
impeded. He also fails to allege facts showing that
Defendant's conduct was intentional in the constitutional
sense. As discussed supra, conclusory allegations
are insufficient to state a claim for relief under §
1983. Plaintiff fails to state a denial of access to the
courts claim in his pleadings. This case must therefore be
reasons stated, the Court concludes that Plaintiff fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted under §
1983 in his pleadings. Accordingly, the Court DISMISSES WITH
PREJUDICE Plaintiff's Complaint for Violation of Civil
Rights (Prisoner Complaint). The Court further concludes that
an appeal from this decision cannot be taken in good faith.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3); Coppedge v. United
States, 369 U.S. 438, 445 (1962). This case is closed.