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Cromer v. Snyder

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

March 27, 2017

RICK SNYDER et al., Defendants.


          Janet T. Neff United States District Judge

         This is some form of action by a state prisoner invoking the Court's admiralty and maritime jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1333.[1] It is difficult to pin down precisely what sort of action Plaintiff intends to bring because his complaint is nothing more than unintelligible legalistic gobbledygook. Plaintiff is not bringing an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Plaintiff clearly states that, under these statutes, no remedy is available. (Am. Compl., ECF No. 7, PageID.82.)

         Even if Plaintiff is raising an admiralty or maritime claim, because he is a prisoner and because he seeks relief from employees or officers of governmental entities, the Court is required to screen his action and dismiss it 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. § 1915A. 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 for failure to state a claim.

         Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff Edward James Cromer is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility in Muskegon Heights, Michigan. Plaintiff is serving life sentences for armed robbery and second-degree murder, consecutive to a two-year sentence for felony firearm. Plaintiff sues Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Michigan Parole Board members Amy Bonito and Michael Eagen.[2] Plaintiff sues the Defendants in their individual capacities. (Am. Compl. Supplement, ECF No. 8, PageID.118.)

         Plaintiff has been in the custody of the MDOC since 1990. He has filed many civil rights and habeas corpus suits in the Michigan federal courts during his incarceration. When Plaintiff alleges that there is no remedy available under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 or 28 U.S.C. § 2254, he speaks from experience.

         Having abandoned the federal question basis for jurisdiction, Plaintiff has turned to admiralty. The nature and scope of the Court's admiralty jurisdiction is not often considered in actions brought by state prisoners. Admiralty jurisprudence involves very specific rights and remedies, rights and remedies that are, or perhaps more accurately were, distinct from the “common law.” As the Supreme Court stated in Manro v. Almeida, 23 U.S. 473 (1825):

The jurisdiction of the admiralty rests upon the grant in the constitution, and the terms in which that grant is extended to the respective Courts of the United States. The forms and modes of proceeding in causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, are prescribed to the Courts by the second section of the Process Act of 1792. In the Process Act of 1789, the language made use of in prescribing those forms implied a general reference to the practice of the civil law; but in the act of 1792, the terms employed are, ‘according to the principles, rules, and usages, which belong to Courts of admiralty, as contradistinguished from Courts of common law.'

Manro, 23 U.S. at 488.

         In many respects the distinct forms and modes of proceeding of the 18th and 19th century have fallen away. By way of example, the distinction between courts of law and courts of equity disappeared because of the adoption of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 1938. City of Morgantown v. Royal Ins. Co., 337 U.S. 254, 257 (1949) (“The coalescing of law and equity procedure was completed in 1938, with the adoption of the Rules of Civil Procedure.”). But there is still some life in the distinct “principles, rules and usages which belong to Courts of admiralty. . .” Id. Indeed, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals cited the Manro decision and its approval of maritime attachment just last year. See Malin Intern. Ship Repair & Drydock, Inc. v. Oceanografia, S.A. de C.V., 817 F.3d 241, 244 (5th Cir. 2016). And, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure still include the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions.[3]

         Plaintiff describes himself as a “Property-vessel.” (Am. Compl., ECF No. 7, PageID.83.) Plaintiff sprinkles statutory cites and terminology from Title 46 of the United States Code regarding shipping and Michigan's version of the Uniform Commercial Code throughout his factual allegations. It appears that Plaintiff contends there was a flaw in his March 7, 1990 preliminary examination:

Stemming from a March 7, 1990 Contract, 27 year Cromer have been falsely imprisoned and injured by Respondents under the latent Admiralty in State Court Criminal Process. Cromer was arrested by application of Title 46 USCS § 31-301 in rem, violating exclusive Federal Jurisdiction pursuant to USC §1333. Then Military Action was used to alter and convert Plaintiff over into Attributed Defendant/Debtor, and forced Cromer into standing trial as a created Legal Fiction EDWARD JAMES CROMER WITHOUT EVER FACING AN INJURED PARTY IN COMMON LAW, or without anyone alleging Cromer had committed a tort or violated any of the constitutional rights into Evidence of Record in court of Equity.

(Am. Compl., ECF No. 7, PageID.81-82.) Specifically, Plaintiff objects to his counsel's preliminary examination stipulation with regard to the content of the medical examiner's report and the identification of the victim. Using that “flaw” as a foundation, Plaintiff adds layer upon layer of misconstrued legal jargon. It is not possible to make any sense of the resulting structure; however, Plaintiff does use some language that describes recognizable causes of action.

         Construed liberally, Plaintiff claims that Defendants breached a contract (maritime or otherwise), fraudulently concealed something, committed fraud, and committed a tort denying Plaintiff access to the courts by denying him usage of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 and precluding him from obtaining an intellectual and commercial interest in himself. Plaintiff also states that on March 7, 1990, these Defendants did something that was a “violation of the V. Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Due Process.” (Id., PageID.91.) Plaintiff also complains that committed a tort by operating a parole board which violated the Michigan rules and regulations as well as “V. Amendment of the U.S. Const.” (Id., PageID.92.) Plaintiff further contends that Defendants committed a tort when they created a policy that prevents him access to uniform commercial code documents which, in turn, denies him access to the courts contrary to the First Amendment. (Id.) Plaintiff seeks equitable and declaratory relief and $27, 000, 000 in compensatory and punitive damages.


         I. Failure ...

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