United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
LAVERNE WILLIAMS, for her son, Charles Deavon Williams, and all similarly treated peoples, Petitioner,
ELISHA V. FINK, PAUL WARD, KIRK TABBEY, KIRK TABBEY'S COURT REPORTERS, 14A-3 DISTRICT COURT, 14A-3 DISTRICT COURT ADMINISTRATORS, 14A-2 DISTRICT COURT ADMINISTRATOR, 14A-2 DISTRICT COURT STAFF, THE CITY OF YPSILANTI, MICHIGAN, AMANDA E. EDMOND, NICOLE BROWN, THE YPSILANTI CITY COUNCIL, THE YPSILANTI CHIEF OF POLICE, JESSE O'JACK, JOHN BARR, ERMIR VILA, EASTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY, THE 22ND CIRCUIT COURT, THE 22ND CIRCUIT COURT STAFF, DAVID SWARTZ, CAROL KUHNIKE, PATRICK J. CONLIN, WASHTENAW COUNTY, THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, MICHIGAN COURT ADMINISTRATORS, THE STATE COURT ADMINISTRATOR'S OFFICE AND ITS REGIONAL COURT DIRECTORS, THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR STATE COURTS, PLANTE MORAN, INC., PAUL E. PEDERSEN, PEDERSEN, KEENAN, WACHSBERG & ANDRZEJAK, P.C., RICHARD V. STOKAN, JR., O'CONNOR, DEGRAZIA, TAMM & O'CONNOR, P.C., CYNTHIA L. REACH and REACH LAW FIRM, BILL SCHUETTE AND ALL ASSISTANT ATTORNEYS GENERAL, ADAM L.S. FRACASSI, ROBIN A. HIAR, JOHN DOES, and JANE DOES, et al., Respondents.
ORDER GRANTING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS,
GRANTING RESPONDENTS' MOTION TO DISMISS , DENYING THE
MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT , AND DISMISSING THE HABEAS
PETITION  WITHOUT PREJUDICE
VICTORIA A. ROBERTS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter came before the Court on petitioner Laverne
Williams' pro se petition for the writ of habeas
corpus on behalf of her son, Charles Deavon Williams
(“Charles”). The respondents are municipal,
county, state, and national entities and officials, as well
as, a few professional firms and other individuals. Also
before the Court is a motion to dismiss, which several court
and county respondents filed, and Mrs. Williams' motion
for default judgment. For reasons given below, the Court
grants Mrs. Williams' request for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis, but denies her motion for default
judgment. The Court also grants the respondents' motion
to dismiss, but dismisses the entire petition on other
grounds and closes this case.
petition and exhibits allege that, on May 18, 2015, Ermir
Vila, a campus police officer for Eastern Michigan
University, illegally stopped Charles for having tinted
windows on his vehicle. Charles had an open beer can and
marijuana in his vehicle. He was arrested and charged with
possession of drug paraphernalia and having open intoxicants
in his vehicle. He was held in the Washtenaw County Jail for
almost two months, and although he was released from jail at
some point, he was re-arrested on February 13, 2017, because
he missed a court date.
March 30, 2017, Mrs. Williams filed this petition, which
includes a request to proceed in forma pauperis and
claims for money damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Mrs.
Williams also seeks Charles' immediate release from
custody. She claims that Charles is innocent of the criminal
charges and that he was maliciously prosecuted, falsely
imprisoned, given excessive bonds for nonviolent
misdemeanors, and denied counsel of choice. She also claims
that Charles was denied his constitutional rights to a speedy
trial, to confront his accuser, and to due process and equal
protection of the law.
pending motion to dismiss was filed by respondents Elisha
Fink, Paul Ward, Kirk Tabbey, Kirk Tabbey's court
reporters, 14A-3 District Court, 14A-3 District Court
Administrators, 14A-2 District Court Administrator, 14A-2
District Court Staff, the 22nd Circuit Court, the 22nd
Circuit Court Staff, David Swartz, Carol Kuhnike, Patrick J.
Conlin, Washtenaw County, Cynthia L. Reach, and Reach Law
Firm. Respondents allege that Charles was released from jail
on April 5, 2017, following his guilty plea and resolution of
both misdemeanor cases. They seek to be dismissed on grounds
that the pleading was not properly served on them, the
pleading fails to state a cognizable claim or cause of
action, and the request for habeas relief does not meet the
requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 2241 or § 2254.
Respondents also argue that the § 1983 claims are barred
by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), and that
the respondent judges are entitled to absolute immunity from
receipt of a habeas corpus petition, a federal court must
promptly examine the petition to determine if it plainly
appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the
petitioner is not entitled to relief. Crump v.
Lafler, 657 F.3d 393, 396 n.2 (6th Cir. 2011); Rule 4 of
the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States
District Courts. “Federal courts are authorized to
dismiss summarily any habeas petition that appears legally
insufficient on its face . . . .” McFarland v.
Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 856 (1994); see also Martin v.
Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 714 (6th Cir. 2004) (stating that
Habeas Rule 4 allows the summary dismissal of a petition if
it appears from the petition that the petitioner is not
entitled to relief).
preliminary question here is whether Mrs. Williams is a
proper party to this action and whether this action may
proceed in the absence of Charles' signature on the
petition. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1654, parties may plead and
conduct their own cases personally or through counsel. In
other words, “[p]arties may proceed in federal court
only pro se or through counsel.” Williams v. United
States, 477 F. App'x 9, 11 (3d Cir. 2012).
“[T]he statute does not permit plaintiffs to appear
pro se where interests other than their own are at
stake.” Shepherd v. Wellman, 313 F.3d 963, 970
(6th Cir. 2002); see also J.M. Huber Corp. v.
Roberts, 869 F.2d 1491, 1989 WL 16866, at *1 (6th Cir.
Feb. 17, 1989) (unpublished decision stating that
“[t]he statute clearly makes no provision for a
non-attorney's representation of others”).
Furthermore, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11(a)
“[e]very pleading . . . must be signed by at least one
attorney of record in the attorney's name - or by a party
personally if the party is unrepresented.”
real party in interest is Charles, but he did not sign the
habeas petition. Even though Mrs. Williams attempts to seek
relief for Charles, she does not claim to be an attorney, and
the Court has no proof that she is a member of the State Bar
of Michigan. Because Mrs. Williams is not an attorney, she
has no standing to raise arguments on behalf of her son.
Barnett v. Luttrell, 414 F. App'x 784, 787 (6th
Cir. 2011). A power of attorney for her son may confer
certain decision-making authority under state law, but it
does not permit her to represent Charles pro se in
federal court. Williams, 477 F. App'x at 11. In
the absence of proper representation, the Court may not reach
the merits of Charles' claims. Id. The Court
lacks jurisdiction because the petition was filed in
violation of § 1654. J.M. Huber Corp, 1989 WL
16866, at *1.
Court grants Mrs. Williams' request to proceed in
forma pauperis, but dismisses the petition without
prejudice and denies as moot the motion for default judgment.
Court grants Respondents' motion to dismiss on
alternative grounds and closes this case. The Court declines
to issue a certificate of appealability; reasonable jurists
could not disagree with the Court's resolution of the
constitutional claims, nor conclude that the issues presented
are adequate ...