United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER SUMMARILY DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT
AND CERTIFYING THAT AN APPEAL COULD NOT BE TAKEN IN GOOD
CORBETT O'MEARA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the its own review of Michigan
prisoner DeAngelo Jones' pro se civil rights complaint.
Plaintiff is incarcerated at the Kinross Correctional
Facility in Kincheloe, Michigan. The complaint alleges that
Defendant, an unnamed clerk of the Wayne Circuit Court,
violated Plaintiff's First Amendment right to access to
the courts by failing to serve him with an order denying his
motion for a new trial in his criminal case. Plaintiff seeks
injunctive relief in the form of an order restoring his state
appellate rights as well as damages.
Standard of Review
filed in forma pauperis are subject to the screening
requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Brown v.
Bargery, 207 F.3d 863, 866 (6th Cir. 2000). Section
1915(e)(2) requires district courts to screen and to dismiss
sua sponte complaints that are “(i) frivolous or
malicious; (ii) fail to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted; or (iii) seek monetary relief against a defendant
who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B). The Supreme Court has defined a
“frivolous” action as one that “lacks an
arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).
se civil rights complaint is to be construed liberally.
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).
Nonetheless, Federal 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)
(citation omitted). While this notice pleading standard does
not require “detailed” factual allegations, it
does require more than the bare assertion of legal principles
or 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).
alleges that on July 3, 2014, the Wayne Circuit Court denied
his delayed motion for a new trial in his criminal case. He
asserts that he never received notice of this decision
because the court clerk did not send him a copy. Plaintiff
states that he sent letters to the court seeking information
about his motion, and it was not until June 9, 2015, that he
was finally notified by the court administrator that his
motion had been denied. Plaintiff states that a result of the
delay he “has been placed in a position in regards to
my appeal.” Dkt. 1, at 3. Plaintiff alleges that he was
denied his First Amendment right to access to the courts when
the unnamed clerk “violated Michigan Court Rules and
failed to serve a copy of the trial court's opinion upon
Plaintiff Jones.” Id.
have a constitutional right of access to the courts which the
states have an affirmative 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 prevail
on a §1983 claim concerning 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). dditionally,
a plaintiff must allege that the deprivation of his rights
was the result of intentional conduct to state such a claim.
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). Plaintiff does not state facts to show that
the defendant intentionally refused to mail him a copy of the
trial court's decision. He simply asserts that the court
clerk failed to comply with the court rules. At most,
Plaintiff alleges that the defendant's conduct was the
result of negligence. Plaintiff thus fails to state a denial
of access to the courts claim.
to the extent Plaintiff is seeking damages, defendant is also
entitled to absolute judicial immunity. Judges and judicial
employees are entitled to absolute judicial immunity on
claims for damages. See Lyle v. Jackson, 49 F.
App'x 492, 494 (6th Cir. 2002) (two court clerks who did
not provide prisoner with copies of previous filings and
transcripts were entitled to quasi-judicial immunity);
Collyer v. Darling, 98 F.3d 211, 221 (6th Cir.
1996); Bush v. Rauch, 38 F.3d 842, 847 (6th Cir.
upon the foregoing discussion, Court concludes that Plaintiff
has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
Accordingly, the Court DISMISSES WITH
PREJUDICE the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(b) and 1915A. The Court further
concludes that an appeal from this order cannot be taken in
good faith. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3); Coppedge v.
United States, 369 U.S. 438, 445 (1962).