United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
THEODORE J. VISNER, Plaintiff,
ISABELLA COUNTY, ERIC JANES, and THE JUDICIAL TENURE COMMISSION, Defendants.
ORDER DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT
GEORGE CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter has come before the Court on plaintiff Theodore J.
Visner's pro se complaint for monetary,
declaratory, and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1983, 1985, and 1988. Plaintiff is a state
prisoner at Parnall Correctional Facility in Jackson,
Michigan. The defendants are: Isabella County, Michigan; Eric
Janes, a state court judge in Isabella County; and the
Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission. In his statement of
facts, plaintiff alleges that, in August of 2015, he and his
wife Kathy Smith were summoned to the Isabella County
Courthouse as co-defendants in an eviction proceeding. Judge
Janes presided over the matter, and he apparently challenged
plaintiff's and Ms. Smith's standing to raise an
argument because he did not realize that the couple was
married. Plaintiff contends that, before he could appeal
Judge Janes' ruling, the Isabella County Sheriff's
Department raided his home, stole his computers, and threw
his other property in dumpsters. According to plaintiff, the
home was raided again in 2018.
seeks relief on the basis that Judge Janes acted unlawfully,
fraudulently, and maliciously to deprive him of rights
secured by the state and federal Constitutions. Plaintiff
also appears to allege that the Judicial Tenure Commission
and Isabella County failed to take corrective action against
Judge Janes and that all the defendants conspired to deprive
him of his constitutional rights. He sues the defendants in
their official and individual capacities.
the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, federal district
courts must screen an indigent prisoner's complaint and
dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous, malicious, fails to
state a claim for which relief can be granted, or seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A;
Flanory v. Bonn, 604 F.3d 249, 252 (6th Cir. 2010);
Smith v. Campbell, 250 F.3d 1032, 1036 (6th Cir.
2001). A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis
in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 325 (1989). “A complaint is subject to dismissal
for failure to state a claim if the allegations, taken as
true, show the plaintiff is not entitled to relief.”
Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007).
a complaint “does not need detailed factual
allegations, ” the “[f]actual allegations must be
enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level
on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint
are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (footnote and
citations omitted). In other words, “a complaint must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true,
‘to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.' ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting 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.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
frames the issue in this case as whether Judge Janes could
deny him and his wife standing in a summary action to evict
them and then give away their home. This claim is dubious
because “[j]udges generally speaking have broad
immunity from being sued.” Norfleet v. Renner,
924 F.3d 317, 319 (6th Cir. 2019) (citing Mireles v.
Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 9, 112 S.Ct. 286, 116 L.Ed.2d 9 (1991)
(per curiam), and Bradley v. Fisher, 80 U.S. (13
Wall. 335, 351-52 (1871)). Judicial immunity does not extend
to everything a judge does, id., but judicial
is overcome in only two sets of circumstances. First, a judge
is not immune from liability for nonjudicial actions,
i.e., actions not taken in the judge's judicial
capacity. Second, a judge is not immune for actions, though
judicial in nature, taken in the complete absence of all
Mireles, 502 U.S. at 11-12 (internal and end
statement of facts indicates that Judge Janes was acting in
his judicial capacity when he presided over the eviction
proceeding, and plaintiff is not challenging Judge Janes'
jurisdiction in the state-court matter. Instead, plaintiff is
challenging Judge Janes' ruling on the standing issue in
the state case. Because rendering a decision on legal issues
is a judicial function, and because a judge's
“orders may not serve as a basis for a civil action for
damages, ” Brookhart v. Rohr, 385 Fed.Appx.
67, 70 (3d Cir. 2010), Judge Janes is immune from suit.
Judicial immunity applies even though plaintiff alleges that
Judge Janes acted maliciously. Brookings v. Clunk,
389 F.3d 614, 617 (6th Cir. 2004) (citing Pierson v.
Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 554 (1967), and Mireles, 502
U.S. at 11). The Court, therefore, dismisses Judge Janes from
The Judicial ...