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Smith v. McKenna

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

November 3, 2017

MARTIN F. SMITH, II, Plaintiff,



         I. Introduction

         This matter comes before the Court on a pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff Martin F. Smith, II is confined at the Lapeer County Jail in Lapeer, Michigan. The Defendants are (1) Lapeer County Sheriff Scott McKenna and (2) Ron Kalaquin, who appears to have been the Lapeer County Sheriff in 2015. (ECF No. 1 at Pg ID 1-2.) Plaintiff seeks declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief for alleged violations of his civil rights. For the reasons that follow, the Court is denying relief and summarily dismissing the complaint.

         II. Background

         The complaint and exhibits allege that, on June 18, 2015, a jury found Plaintiff guilty of assault with a dangerous weapon, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.82, possession of a firearm during the commission, or attempt to commit, a felony, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.227b, killing or torturing an animal, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.50b, and domestic violence, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.812. On September 14, 2015, the trial court sentenced Plaintiff to 180 days in the county jail for the assault and torture convictions, ninety days in jail for the domestic violence conviction and two years in a state correctional facility for the felony-firearm conviction. On September 18, 2015, county officials transferred Plaintiff from the county jail to the Michigan Department of Corrections (“MDOC”) for service of his felony-firearm conviction. The Michigan Parole Board eventually released Plaintiff on parole for the felony-firearm conviction, and on June 16, 2017, Lapeer County officials took custody of Plaintiff so he could serve his remaining sentences in the county jail.

         Plaintiff argues Defendants violated his constitutional rights when they took custody of him following his confinement in state prison. He contends Defendants did not read or acknowledge the judgment of sentence, which lacks a check mark by item 8. The lack of a check mark is an indication that the sentences are to be served concurrently, not consecutively. (ECF No. 1 at Pg ID 7.)

         Plaintiff sues Defendants in their personal and official capacities. He seeks: a declaratory judgment stating Defendants refuse to acknowledge the judgment of sentence and have violated his constitutional rights; an injunction ordering Defendants to release him without further delay; and money damages in the amount of $6, 000 per day for wrongful incarceration.

         III. Legal Framework

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 requires federal district courts to screen a prisoner's complaint and to dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1); Flanory v. Bonn, 604 F.3d 249, 252 (6th Cir. 2010); Smith v. Campbell, 250 F.3d 1032, 1036 (6th Cir. 2001). The Court is “required to screen all civil cases brought by prisoners, regardless of whether the inmate paid the full filing fee, is a pauper, is pro se, or is represented by counsel, as the statute does not differentiate between civil actions brought by prisoners.” In re Prison Litigation Reform Act, 105 F.3d 1131, 1134 (6th Cir. 1997).

         Plaintiff prepaid the filing fee for this action, and courts may not summarily dismiss a prisoner's fee-paid complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), because that section applies to complaints filed in forma pauperis. McVey v. Polster, 20 F. App'x 479, 480 (6th Cir. 2001); Benson v. O'Brian, 179 F.3d 1014, 1015-16 (6th Cir. 1999). Benson, however, does not prohibit federal courts from screening a prisoner's fee-paid civil rights complaint against government officials under §1915A.[1] Hyland v. Clinton, 3 F. App'x 478, 478-79 (6th Cir. 2001).

         A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). “A complaint is subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim if the allegations, taken as true, show the plaintiff is not entitled to relief.” Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007).

         While a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations, ” the “[f]actual 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).” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations omitted). In other words, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, ‘to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). To prevail on a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must prove two elements: “(1) that he or she was deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) that the deprivation was caused by a person acting under color of law.” Robertson v. Lucas, 753 F.3d 606, 614 (6th Cir. 2014).

         IV. Analysis

         Plaintiff's complaint is frivolous and fails to state a claim for which relief may be granted because it challenges his confinement in the county jail. The sole federal remedy for a state prisoner's challenge to the very fact or duration of physical imprisonment is a petition for the writ of habeas corpus. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 ...

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