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Houthoofd v. Does

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

June 6, 2019

TOD HOUTHOOFD, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN AND JANE DOES, ET AL, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER OF SUMMARY DISMISSAL

          HON. MARK A. GOLDSMITH, JUDGE

         This pro se civil action was filed by Tod Houthoofd, a Michigan prisoner currently confined at the Oaks Correctional Facility. Plaintiff is suing the Judges of the Saginaw Circuit Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals, and the Justices of the Michigan Supreme Court. He seeks injunctive relief preventing defendants from resentencing him on his state court convictions. For the reasons stated, the complaint will be summarily dismissed.

         Plaintiff has paid the filing fee for this action and is therefore not proceeding in forma pauperis. Nevertheless, the Court is authorized 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). A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).

         I. Background

         The facts surrounding Plaintiff's state court criminal case were summarized as follows:

[Plaintiff] was convicted of obtaining property valued over $100 by false pretenses, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.218, witness intimidation, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.122, and solicitation to commit murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.157b, following a jury trial in the Saginaw County Circuit Court. He was sentenced to concurrent terms of 5 to 10 years imprisonment, 10 to 15 years imprisonment, and 40 to 60 years imprisonment on those convictions in 2006.
Petitioner then pursued an appeal of right in the state courts. The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed his solicitation to commit murder conviction based upon improper venue, but affirmed his other convictions. People v. Houthoofd, No. 269505, 2009 WL 249459 (Mich. Ct. App. Feb. 3, 2009). The Michigan Supreme Court reversed in part the Michigan Court of Appeals' decision and reinstated the solicitation to commit murder conviction on the ground that Petitioner was not prejudiced by the improper venue. The Michigan Supreme Court also remanded the case to the Michigan Court of Appeals for a determination of whether the trial court failed to articulate substantial and compelling reasons for upwardly departing from the guidelines when imposing Petitioner's sentences. People v. Houthoofd, 487 Mich. 568, 790 N.W.2d 315 (2010); reh. den. 790 N.W.2d 339 (2010).
On remand, the Michigan Court of Appeals vacated Petitioner's sentence for solicitation to commit murder and remanded for re-sentencing. People v. Houthoofd (on Remand), No. 269505, 2010 WL 4906128 (Mich. Ct. App. Dec. 2, 2010). The Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal. People v. Houthoofd, 489 Mich. 935, 797 N.W.2d 638 (2011).
The state trial court re-sentenced Petitioner to 40 to 60 years imprisonment on the solicitation to commit murder conviction. Petitioner then pursued a direct appeal in the state courts. The Michigan Court of Appeals vacated the new sentence because the state trial court had circumvented the rules regarding the reassignment of judges and remanded the case for re-sentencing before a randomly selected judge. People v. Houthoofd, No. 312977, 2014 WL 667802 (Mich. Ct. App. Feb. 18, 2014). The Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal. People v. Houthoofd, 496 Mich. 866, 849 N.W.2d 376 (2014).
The state trial court re-sentenced Petitioner to 420 months to 720 months on the solicitation to commit murder conviction. Petitioner pursued another appeal in the state courts. The Michigan Court of Appeals vacated the new sentence and remanded for re-sentencing because the trial judge lacked jurisdiction to re-sentence Petitioner while his application for leave to appeal was pending in the Michigan Supreme Court. People v. Houthoofd, No. 322592, 2015 WL 2329081 (Mich. Ct. App. May 14, 2015). The Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal. People v. Houthoofd, Mich., 872 N.W.2d 466 (2015).

Houthoofd v. Woods, 2016 WL 807948, at *1-2 (E.D. Mich. 2016) (opinion dismissing habeas petition without prejudice as prematurely filed).

         Plaintiff asserts that he is scheduled to be sentenced once again in the Saginaw Circuit Court on June 12, 2019. Plaintiff asserts that the prosecutor and police officers through perjured testimony conspired to fraudulently create venue in Saginaw County. He argues that the state trial court, therefore, does not have jurisdiction to resentence him, and he requests an order enjoining the state court from doing so.

         II. Abstention

         In Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), the Supreme Court “held that absent extraordinary circumstances federal courts should not enjoin pending state criminal prosecutions.” New Orleans Pub. Serv., Inc. v. Council of City of New Orleans, 491 U.S. 350, 364 (1989). The underlying concern of Younger is the “threat to our federal system posed by displacement of state courts by those of the National Government.” Moore v. Sims, 442 U.S. 415, 423 (1979). Accordingly, “Younger abstention requires the federal court to defer to the state proceeding.” Coles v. Granville, 448 F.3d 853, 865 (6th Cir. 2006). The Sixth Circuit has held that exercise of Younger abstention is appropriate “when the state proceeding (1) is currently pending, (2) involves an important state interest, and (3) affords the plaintiff an adequate opportunity to raise constitutional claims.” Coles, 448 F.3d at 865. If the three Younger criteria are satisfied, the court should abstain from interfering “unless there is a ...


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