United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER OF PARTIAL DISMISSAL AND TRANSFER
TO THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT
Gershwin A. Drain United States District Court Judge
William Tomaszycki, presently incarcerated at the Saginaw
Correctional Facility in Jackson, Michigan, has filed a
pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. He has been granted leave to proceed without prepayment
of the filing fee for this action. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a); Dkt. No. 4.
names three defendants, a retired state court judge (John L.
Conover), former Lapeer County Prosecutor (Timothy M.
Turkelson), and a Lakeland Correctional Facility corrections
officer (Avila, first name unknown). Dkt. No. 1, pg. 1 (Pg ID
1). When Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Lakeland
Correctional Facility, he was facing criminal charges in
Lapeer County. Id. at pg. 5 (Pg. ID 5). On the
morning of the first day of his jury trial, Defendant Avila
would not allow Plaintiff to take his legal papers in the
transport van, even after Plaintiff informed Avila he was
representing himself at the criminal trial. Dkt. No. 1, pg. 5
(Pg. ID 5). Plaintiff further claims that Defendants Conover
and Turkelson should have postponed jury voir dire
to allow Plaintiff time to obtain his legal materials.
See Id. at pg. 7 (Pg. ID 7). Plaintiff argues that
the actions of the three Defendants denied him his right of
access to the courts. Id. For the reasons that
follow, Defendants Turkelson and Conover will be dismissed
under 28 U.S.C. § § 1915(e)(2)(B) & 1915A(b),
for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), this Court
transfers the remainder of Plaintiff's complaint to the
United States District Court for the Western District of
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 Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957) and Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2)). While this notice pleading standard does not
require “detailed” factual allegations,
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, it does require more than
the bare assertion of legal conclusions or “an
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).
has been granted leave to proceed without prepayment of the
filing fee for this action. Dkt. No. 4. Under the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), the Court is
required to sua sponte dismiss an in forma
pauperis complaint before service on a defendant if it
determines that the action is frivolous or malicious, fails
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c); 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B). Similarly, the Court is required to
dismiss a complaint seeking redress against government
entities, officers, and employees that it finds to be
frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
state a federal civil rights claim, a plaintiff must allege
that: (1) he was deprived of a right, privilege, or immunity
secured by the federal Constitution or laws of the United
States, and (2) the deprivation was caused by a person acting
under color of state law. Flagg Bros. v. Brooks, 436
U.S. 149, 155-57 (1978). A pro se civil rights
complaint is to be construed liberally. Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).
claims against prosecutor Timothy M. Turkelson and state
court judge John L. Conover will be dismissed because both
defendants are immune from suit under § 1983.
common law principle of absolute immunity for prosecutors
applies to claims filed under § 1983. Imbler v.
Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 427 (1976). Prosecutors are
entitled to absolute prosecutorial immunity for any conduct
relating to “initiating a prosecution and . . .
presenting the State's case.” Id. at 431.
In contrast, when a prosecutor “functions as an
administrator” or an investigator “‘rather
than as an officer of the court' he is entitled only to
qualified immunity.” Buckley v. Fitzsimmons,
509 U.S. 259, 273 (1993) (citing Imbler, 424 U.S. at
431 n.33). Plaintiff's allegations concern conduct
related to presenting the State's case. Therefore,
Defendant Turkelson is immune from suit under § 1983.
court judge John L. Conover is also immune from suit under
§ 1983. Judges are absolutely immune from civil rights
suits for money damages when acting in a judicial capacity
unless they act in the clear absence of all jurisdiction.
See Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11-12 (1991).
Whether an action is “judicial” depends on the
“‘nature of the act itself, i.e.,
whether it is a function normally performed by a judge,
'” and “‘the expectations of the
parties, i.e., whether they dealt with the judge in
his judicial capacity.'” Id. at 12-13
(quoting Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 362
(1978)). A judge's acts do not become non-judicial simply
because they are erroneous or “in excess of his
authority”; if that were the case, then “any
mistake of a judge in excess of his authority would become a
‘nonjudicial' act, because an improper or erroneous
act cannot be said to be normally performed by a
judge.” Id. Injunctive relief against a
judicial officer is also foreclosed under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 “unless a declaratory decree was violated or
declaratory relief was unavailable.” Cooper v.
Rapp, 702 Fed.Appx. 328, 334 (6th Cir. 2017).
conduct challenged by Plaintiff in this case arises from
Judge Conover's decision not to postpone jury voir
dire until Plaintiff obtained his legal materials. The
decision was well within the scope of Judge Conover's
judicial capacity, was not done in absence of jurisdiction,
and Plaintiff does not allege a violation of a declaratory
decree. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is not
entitled to declaratory relief because there is no
justiciable controversy between a judge acting as a
“disinterested judicial adjudicator” and a party
to the lawsuit and declaratory relief is not
“unavailable” simple because a party is not
entitled to such relief. Cooper, 702 Fed.Appx. at
33-34. Accordingly, Judge Conover is immune from suit.