United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
T. Neff United States District Judge.
a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act,
Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996) (PLRA), the Court
is required to dismiss any prisoner action brought under
federal law 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. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(c). 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, the Court will dismiss
Plaintiff's complaint against Defendants Lacy, Justian,
and Newman for failure to state a claim.
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Lakeland Correctional Facility
(LCF) in Coldwater, Branch County, Michigan. His complaint,
however, does not relate to the conditions of his confinement
at LCF. It relates to the fact of his confinement. Plaintiff
sues MDOC Records Office Supervisor Jennifer Lacy, Muskegon
County Assistant Prosecutor Charles F. Justian, and
Plaintiff's criminal trial counsel Valerie R. Newman.
Each of the Defendants played a role in the criminal
prosecution that resulted in Plaintiff's incarceration.
August 12, 2002, Plaintiff was arrested in the state of
Georgia on a warrant for a July 15, 2002, armed robbery in
Muskegon, Michigan. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.5.)
Plaintiff's trial began approximately nine months later
in the Muskegon County Circuit Court. He was convicted of
armed robbery on May 27, 2003, and sentenced to a term of 30
to 90 years' imprisonment on July 1, 2003.
time Plaintiff committed the armed robbery offense he was on
parole for breaking and entering convictions. Thus, when
Plaintiff returned to Michigan from Georgia, he was held by
the Michigan Department of Corrections rather than the
Muskegon County Jail.
State of Michigan guarantees the right to a speedy trial in
every criminal prosecution in its constitution and by
statute. Mich. Const. of 1963, Art. I §20; Mich. Comp.
Laws § 768.1. For inmates held in MDOC correctional
facilities, the guarantee is enforced under Mich. Comp. Laws
§ 780.131. Under the statute, the inmate must be
brought to trial within 180 days after the department of
corrections provides written notice, by certified mail,
requesting final disposition to the prosecuting attorney of
the county in which the warrant, indictment, information, or
complaint is pending. Id. If the action is not
commenced within 180 days, the warrant, indictment,
information, or complaint must be dismissed with prejudice.
Mich. Comp. Laws § 780.133.
claims that under the state statutes, his action was not
timely commenced and, therefore, the criminal proceeding
against him should have been dismissed. At the time Plaintiff
was convicted, the statutes at issue were considered
inapplicable to an inmate whose sentence on the pending
charge would be mandatorily consecutive to the sentence the
inmate was already serving. People v. Chavies, 593
N.W.2d 655 (Mich. Ct. App. 1999). Based on that authority,
the Michigan Court of Appeals rejected Plaintiff's
argument when he raised it on direct appeal of his
conviction, reasoning that Plaintiff's armed robbery
sentence would have been mandatorily consecutive to the
breaking and entering sentences for which he was on parole
when he committed the armed robbery. People v. Holt,
No. 250580, 2004 WL 2952291, at *2 (Mich. Ct. App. Dec. 21,
2004) (“Because defendant was on parole at the time of
the alleged offense and therefore, his sentence in this case
must be consecutive, the 180-day rule of MCL 780.131(1) and
780.133 does not apply.”).
Plaintiff's application for leave to appeal to the
Michigan Supreme Court was pending, the Michigan Supreme
Court overruled People v. Chavies in People v.
Williams, 716 N.W.2d 208 (Mich. 2006). The Michigan
Supreme Court concluded that the “mandatorily
consecutive sentence exception” was improperly read
into the statute. Id. at 213-14. This change raised
for the first time the question of whether the prosecutor had
notice of Plaintiff's incarceration with the MDOC.
light of the People v. Williams decision, the
Michigan Supreme Court invited supplemental briefing on
Plaintiff's application for leave to appeal. People
v. Holt, 721 N.W.2d 176 (Mich. 2006). Upon the request
of the prosecutor, the Michigan Supreme Court remanded for an
evidentiary hearing to develop the record with regard to the
the Defendants played a role in that remand hearing.
Defendant Justian participated for the Muskegon County
Prosecutor's Office. Defendant Newman served as
Plaintiff's appointed appellate counsel. Defendant Lacy,
on behalf of the MDOC, testified that the certified mail
notice contemplated by Mich. Comp. Laws § 780.131 was
never sent. Although there was never written notice from the
MDOC to the prosecutor by certified mail, there was no
question that the prosecutor had actual notice regarding
Plaintiff's confinement with the MDOC. The prosecutor
placed a “Request for Hold/Notification” for
Plaintiff with the MDOC on September 27, 2002. Holt v.
Lafler, No. 1:08-cv-295 (W.D. Mich.) (Notice, ECF No.
the version of Michigan Court Rule 6.004(D) in existence at
the time of Plaintiff's criminal proceedings, the
prosecutor's actual notice that a charged person was
incarcerated with the MDOC triggered the running of the
180-day period. Williams, 716 N.W.2d at 215-16. In
addition to eliminating the “mandatory consecutive
sentence” exception, the Williams court also
eliminated the “actual notice” trigger, for the
same reason. “Actual notice, ” the
Williams court found, represented an impermissible
deviation from the statutory requirement of written notice by
certified mail. Id. at 216-17.
the certified mail notice triggering the 180-day period under
the statute was never sent, the Michigan Supreme Court
ultimately concluded that the statute did not afford
Plaintiff any relief. People v. Holt, 731 N.W.2d 93');">731 N.W.2d 93
(Mich. 2007). The supreme court determined that the statute
applied; but, in the ...