United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
J. JONKER, CHIEF 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. § 1915A(b) and 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 for failure to state a claim.
is presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Earnest C. Brooks Correctional
Facility, (LRF) in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon County,
Michigan. Plaintiff sues the Michigan Parole Board.
alleges that on or about January of 1983, the Michigan Parole
Board held an executive session and gave Plaintiff a
commutation score of 22 years. At this time, Plaintiff had
served 14 years of his life sentence. Plaintiff claims that
he received a receipt from the chairman of the parole board,
confirming that his score was 22 years. Plaintiff states that
this confirmation gives him a liberty interest in being
released on parole.
alleges that in 1992, new members came onto the Parole Board
and that they implemented a new policy that “life means
life.” Plaintiff has now served 50 years on his
sentence after receiving multiple 5 year flops with no other
explanation than “no interest.” Plaintiff
contends that his continued incarceration violates his
seeks a recommendation for commutation or immediate discharge
from prison. Plaintiff also seeks damages.
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)).
states that he is currently serving a nonparolable life
sentence in a Michigan prison. Plaintiff appears to be
claiming that following his conviction and sentence, the
Michigan Parole Board changed its policies in regard to its
commutation procedures in a manner that violates the Ex Post
Facto Clause of the United States Constitution. Plaintiff
also asserts that the Parole Board's action created a
liberty interest to recommend commutation to the governor
after Plaintiff served 22 years of his life sentence.
the Court notes that Plaintiff has named the Michigan Parole
Board as the sole defendant, not any one or more of the
individual members of the board. The Michigan Parole Board is
part of the Michigan Department of Corrections. Mich. Comp.
Laws § 791.231a(1). Regardless of the form of relief
requested, the states and their departments are immune under
the Eleventh Amendment from suit in the federal courts,
unless the state has waived immunity or Congress has
expressly abrogated Eleventh Amendment immunity by statute.
See Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman,
465 U.S. 89, 98-101 (1984); Alabama v. Pugh, 438
U.S. 781, 782 (1978); O'Hara v. Wigginton, 24
F.3d 823, 826 (6th Cir. 1994). Congress has not expressly
abrogated Eleventh Amendment immunity by statute, Quern
v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 341 (1979), and the State of
Michigan has not consented to civil rights suits in federal
court. Abick v. Michigan, 803 F.2d 874, 877 (6th
Cir. 1986). Therefore, the Michigan Parole Board, as part of
the Michigan Department of Corrections, is immune from
injunctive and monetary relief. See Harrison v.
Michigan, 722 F.3d 768, 771 (6th Cir. 2013) (holding
that both the MDOC and the parole board are entitled to
immunity under the Eleventh Amendment); Horton v.
Martin, 137 Fed.Appx. 773, 775 (6th Cir. 2005) (Michigan
Parole Board entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity);
Lee v. Mich. Parole Bd., 104 Fed.Appx. 490, 492 (6th
Cir. 2004) (same); Fleming v. Martin, 24 Fed.Appx.
258, 259 (6th Cir. 2001) (same). In addition, the Michigan
Parole Board is not a “person” who may be sued
under §1983 for money damages. See Harrison,
722 F.3d at 771.
to the MDOC Offender Tracking Information System, Plaintiff
was convicted of first-degree murder following a jury trial
and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility
of parole on June 26, 1969. See
aspx?mdocNumber=111992. Since that time, Plaintiff has been
serving his life sentence in Michigan. Although
Plaintiff's sentence makes him permanently ineligible for
parole, his sentence can be commuted by the governor of
Michigan. The Michigan Parole Board has the power to review a
prisoner's case and to recommend to the governor that a
prisoner's sentence be commuted. Lewis-El v. Sampson,
et al., 649 F.3d 423, 423-24 (6th Cir. 2011)
(citing Mich. Comp. Laws § 791.244). Plaintiff
claims that in 1983, he was screened by Michigan Parole Board
members pursuant to the guidelines in effect at that time.
According to the guidelines, Plaintiff received a score of 22
years, which he understood to mean that the Parole Board
would recommend commutation of Plaintiff's sentence to
the governor after he served 22 years in prison.
claim that he has a liberty interest in being recommended for
commutation is without merit. To 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); Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Servs., 555 F.3d
543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009). Because § 1983 is a method for
vindicating federal rights, not a source of substantive
rights itself, the first ...