United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
Honorable Paul L. Maloney 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 Royster and
Meyer for failure to state a claim.
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF) in
Kincheloe, Chippewa County, Michigan. Plaintiff sues Michigan
Supreme Court Chief Clerk Larry S. Royster and Deputy Clerk
Inger Z. Meyer. Plaintiff alleges that following the denial
of his motion for reconsideration in the Michigan Court of
Appeals on August 5, 2016, he had 42 days to file an
application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme
September 9, 2016, Plaintiff mailed an application for leave
to appeal and a motion to suspend filing fees, as well as
supporting documents, to the Michigan Supreme Court. On
September 13, 2016, Defendant Royster received
Plaintiff's submission and returned it to Plaintiff on
the same date, stating that pursuant to MCL §
600.2963(8), the court would not accept further civil appeals
on Plaintiff's behalf until the filing fees in
Plaintiff's previous civil appeals were paid in full.
After Plaintiff received this mail, he had his brother pay
his outstanding debt to the state court. Plaintiff states
that pursuant to MCL § 600.2963(1), he had 21 days in
which to refile his pleadings. However, when Plaintiff mailed
his pleadings back to the Michigan Supreme Court for filing,
Defendant Meyer refused to accept his pleadings. On October
3, 2016, Defendant Meyer returned Plaintiff's pleadings
with a letter stating that Plaintiff had missed the 42 day
filing deadline set forth in Rule 7.305(C) of the Michigan
Court Rules. Plaintiff was also informed that the mailbox
rule only applies to criminal matters and that the court did
not have any discretion to accept a late filing.
believing that the 21 day period to pay his outstanding debt
provided an extension to the 42 day time period for filing an
application for leave to appeal, wrote a letter and a motion
for reconsideration to the Michigan Supreme Court. Defendant
Royster sent Plaintiff a letter dated March 16, 2017,
As explained by Deputy Clerk Meyer in her letter to you on
October 3, 2016, your civil application for leave to appeal,
which this office received on September 16, 2016, could not
be accepted and docketed because you had an outstanding
balance for the filing fees in [Michigan Supreme Court] No.
140213, Charles Smiles v Dep't of Corrections. Although
you paid that balance on September 29, 2106, and re-submitted
the civil application on October 3, 2016, the 42-day deadline
for filing the application had passed. It was therefore
properly rejected and returned to you by this office.
See ECF No. 1, PageID.5. Defendant Royster
reiterated that the filing deadline for an application for
leave to appeal is jurisdictional and cannot be extended.
contends that Defendants violated his rights under the First
and Fourteenth Amendments when they refused to accept his
application for leave to appeal. Plaintiff seeks compensatory
and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.
Failure to state a claim
complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it
fails “‘to give the defendant fair notice of what
the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355
U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While a complaint need not contain
detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's allegations
must include more than labels and conclusions.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“Threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”). The
court must determine whether the complaint contains
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” 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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 679. Although the plausibility standard is not equivalent
to a “‘probability requirement, ' . . . it
asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[W]here
the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more
than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged - but it has not ‘show[n]' - that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)); see also Hill
v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding
that the Twombly/Iqbal plausibility standard applies
to dismissals of prisoner cases on initial review under 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)).
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege the violation of a right secured by the federal
Constitution or laws and must show that the deprivation was
committed by a person acting under color of state law.
West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Street
v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir.
1996). Because § 1983 is a method for vindicating
federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself,
the first step in an action under § 1983 is to identify
the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed.
Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994).
Royster and Meyer are entitled to immunity from
Plaintiff's claims for damages. Absolute judicial
immunity is extended to non-judicial officers who perform
“quasi-judicial” duties. “Quasi-judicial
immunity extends to those persons performing tasks so
integral or intertwined with the judicial process that these
persons are considered an arm of the judicial officer who is
immune.” Bush v. Rauch, 38 F.3d 842 (6th Cir.
1994) (probate court administrator entitled to quasi-judicial
immunity for his role in carrying out the orders of the
court) (citing Scruggs v. Moellering, 870 F.2d 376
(7th Cir. 1989)); see also Johnson v. Turner, 125
F.3d 324, 333 (6th Cir. 1997) (one who acts as a judge's
designee in carrying out a function for which the judge is
immune is also protected from suit seeking monetary damages);
Foster v. Walsh, 864 F.2d 416, 417-18 (6th Cir.
1988) (clerk of court was entitled to quasi-judicial immunity
for issuing a warrant as directed by the court); accord
Carlton v. Baird, No. 03-1294, 2003 WL 21920023, at *1
(6th Cir. Aug. 8, 2003) (state court clerk's office
employees were entitled to quasi-judicial immunity from state
prison inmate's § 1983 claim); Lyle v.
Jackson, No. 02-1323, 2002 WL 31085181, at *1 (6th Cir.
Sept. 17, 2002) (quasi-judicial immunity applied to claims
against state court clerks who allegedly failed to provide
prisoner with requested copies of previous filings and
transcripts); Bradley v. United States, 84 F.
App'x 492 (6th Cir. 2003) (federal court clerk). Cf.
Antoine v. Byers & Anderson, Inc., 508 U.S. 429, 437
& n.11 (1993) (court reporter not entitled to ...