United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING MDOC DEFENDANTS'
MOTION TO DISMISS [ECF DOC. 8] AND GRANTING DEFENDANTS
KRIEGHOFF, REED AND SMITH'S MOTION TO DISMISS [ECF DOC.
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Howard Woodward, is a prisoner currently under the
jurisdiction of the Michigan Department of Corrections
(“MDOC”) on parole status. Plaintiff filed his
complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of
his civil rights under the Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendments of the United States Constitution, as well as
claims under state law. Plaintiff's claims arise from an
error in his Judgment of Sentence by the sentencing court
which resulted in a miscalculation of the date on which he
became parole eligible. Plaintiff argues that he was denied
due process pursuant to the applicable parole statutes.
case is presently before the court on motions filed by the
served defendants: Michigan Parole Board, MDOC, Director
Heidi Washington, Deputy Director Kenneth McKee, Jill
Krieghoff, David Reed and Walton Smith. The court is familiar
with the filings in the case and determines that it will not
be further aided by oral argument.
April 11, 2007, plaintiff entered nolo contendre
pleas in the Wayne County Circuit Court regarding: Charge 1 -
carjacking; Charge 2 - robbery armed; Charge 2 - weapons -
felony firearm; and Charge 1 - robbery armed. The Presentence
Investigation (“PSI”) stated that the minimum
sentence regarding all convictions was Nine (9) years on the
carjacking to be served concurrently with the Seven (7) years
for armed robbery and Two (2) years for felony firearm. On
the record, the sentencing court stated that plaintiff's
minimum sentence would be Nine (9) years minus 125 days
credit for time served. However, the Judgment of Sentence
stated that the sentence was Nine (9) to Twenty (20) years,
concurrent with the robbery and consecutive with the felony
firearm. All of the offenses related to the felony firearm
charge were dismissed.
February 22, 2017, defendant Jill Kreighoff, Records Audit
Specialist of the Central Recorded Section, sent a letter to
Judge Thomas Cameron addressing concerns about the accuracy
of plaintiff's sentence. She noted that the court's
Judgment of Sentence indicated that all of plaintiff's
sentences were to be served consecutive with his felony
firearm conviction while state statute required that the
felony firearm conviction be served consecutive with the
underlying related felonies, all of which had been dismissed.
The sentencing court agreed and on March 29, 2017 issued an
amended Judgment of Sentence. On March 28, 2017, defendant prison
counselor Walton Smith prepared a parole eligibility report.
The report indicated plaintiff's minimum sentence was
served on December 21, 2015 and he became parole eligible on
that date. The report was reviewed and approved on April 20,
2017 by defendant David Reed, acting Resident Unit Manager.
At the end of June 2017, plaintiff had an emergency parole
hearing. On July 5, 2017, plaintiff was released and placed
on 2 years parole.
alleges two constitutional violations by defendants. First,
plaintiff maintains that his expectation of procedural due
process was denied when he was not reviewed for parole after
serving his minimum sentence which was supposed to be Nine
(9) years. In fact, plaintiff was not granted parole for a
year and a half after serving his minimum sentence. Second,
plaintiff argues that an independent violation occurred when
defendants assumed the duty of addressing the sentencing
computation issue by sending a letter to the sentencing
judge. However, after learning of the sentencing mistake,
defendants failed to properly implement the parole procedures
as required by statute. Plaintiff was not granted parole for
three months after the amended Judgment of Sentence was
issued and defendants had actual notice that he was parole
791.235 creates a statutorily mandated procedural process
Sec. 35. (1) The release of a prisoner on parole shall be
granted solely upon the initiative of the parole board. The
parole board may grant a parole without interviewing the
prisoner. However, beginning January 26, 1996, the parole
board may grant a parole without interviewing the prisoner
only if, after evaluating the prisoner according to the
parole guidelines, the parole board determines that the
prisoner has a high probability of being paroled and the
parole board therefore intends to parole the prisoner.
Except as provided in subsection (2), a prisoner shall
not be denied parole without an interview before 1 member of
the parole board. The interview shall be conducted at least 1
month before the expiration of the prisoner's minimum
sentence less applicable good time and disciplinary
credits for a prisoner eligible for good time and
disciplinary credits, or at least 1 month before the
expiration of the prisoner's minimum sentence for a
prisoner subject to disciplinary time.
Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 791.235 (emphasis added).
Lee v. Withrow, 76 F.Supp.2d 789, 793 (E.D. Mich.
1999), the court held that prisoners do not have a
constitutional right to be paroled, so the parole board's
decision to deny parole does not violate a federal
constitutional right. The court indicated that the only
procedural due process that is constitutionally required is
to give a prisoner the opportunity to be heard and, if parole
is denied, to inform the prisoner how he or she falls short
of qualifying for parole. Id. (citing Canales v.
Gabry, 844 F.Supp. 1167, 1171 (E.D. Mich. 1994)).
Plaintiff acknowledges that the Michigan Parole Board has
broad discretion to recommend or deny parole. MCL 791.235.
Therefore, Plaintiff does not challenge the denial of parole.
Rather, plaintiff relies on Lee to support his claim
that he had a procedural due process right to be given an
opportunity to be heard that was violated in this case.
Government Officials Sued in Official Capacity
Eleventh Amendment bars any suit against the state, its
agencies and its officials sued in their official capacities
for damages unless the state has waived its sovereign
immunity or unequivocally consented to be sued. Defendants
are employees of the state who acted in their official
capacities. Therefore, defendants are entitled to sovereign
immunity against allegations that they acted in their
Government Officials Sued in Individual Capacity
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution and must
show the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting
under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S.
42, 48 (1988). A clear showing must be made that each named
defendant was personally involved in the activity that forms
the basis of the complaint. Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S.
362 (1976). “[A] plaintiff must plead that each