United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER OF SUMMARY DISMISSAL
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a pro se civil rights case brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. The case was originally filed in the United
States District Court for the Western District of Michigan
and transferred to this Court on July 25, 2019. Michigan
prisoner Derrick Lee Smith (“plaintiff Smith”),
currently confined at the Muskegon Correctional Facility in
Muskegon, Michigan, challenges his state criminal convictions
of four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, which
were imposed following a nolo contendere plea in the Wayne
County Circuit Court. Plaintiff Smith was sentenced, as a
third habitual offender, to concurrent terms of 17 years 6
months to 35 years imprisonment in May, 2019. In the
complaint, plaintiff Smith asserts that threats and other
procedural improprieties in his state criminal proceedings
render his convictions and sentences unconstitutional. He
names the Wayne County Prosecutor and an assistant
prosecutor, the Wayne County Sheriff and two detectives, the
victim, and several judges as the defendants in this action
and seeks release from custody and monetary damages. He also
names potential witnesses, George Thomas Preston and Kathryn
Lynn Preston, as co-plaintiffs (“co-plaintiffs”)
in this action.
initial matter, the Court notes that neither plaintiff Smith
nor the co-plaintiffs have paid the $350.00 filing fee and
the $50.00 administrative fee for this action, see
28 U.S.C. § 1914(a); Judicial Conference Schedule of
Fees, § 14, foll. 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a), nor have
they moved to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee.
See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a); 1915. All
individuals, both prisoners and non-prisoners, who seek to
proceed in forma pauperis in federal court must file a form
or affidavit which states all of the assets possessed by that
individual and the failure to file the required information
mandates that the request be denied. See McGore v.
Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 608-09 (6th Cir. 1997),
partially overruled on other grounds by LaFountain v.
Harry, 716 F.3d 944, 951 (6th Cir. 2013).
plaintiff Smith is a three-striker under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(g) due to his filing of three or more lawsuits which
have been dismissed as frivolous or for failure to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted who is not allowed to
proceed without prepayment of the filing fee (i.e. in forma
pauperis) absent a showing that he is under imminent danger
of serious physical injury. See Smith v. Penman, et
al., No. 1:18-cv-1212 (W.D. Mich. Dec. 20, 2018) (order
listing strikes and denying leave to proceed in forma
pauperis); Smith v. Washington, et al., No.
2:18-cv-10736 (E.D. Mich. June 11, 2018) (order listing
strikes and revoking leave to proceed without prepayment of
the filing fee). Plaintiff Smith makes no such showing. The
complaint is thus subject to dismissal for failure to pay the
required fees/requests to proceed in forma pauperis and under
28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
and alternatively, the complaint fails to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996
(“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). The Court is
similarly required to dismiss a complaint seeking redress
against government entities, officers, and employees which 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. A complaint is frivolous if it lacks
an arguable basis in law or in fact. Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989).
se civil rights complaint is to be construed liberally.
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).
Nonetheless, Federal 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
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)
(citation omitted). While this notice pleading standard does
not require “detailed” factual allegations, it
does require more than the bare assertion of legal principles
or conclusions. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Rule 8
“demands more than an unadorned, the
defendant-unlawfully-harmed me 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).
state a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege that: (1) he or she 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); Harris v. Circleville, 583 F.3d 356,
364 (6th Cir. 2009).
case, the allegations in the complaint concern the validity
of plaintiff Smith's state criminal proceedings. A claim
under § 1983 is an appropriate remedy for a state
prisoner challenging a condition of imprisonment, Preiser
v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 499 (1973), not the validity
of continued confinement. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S.
477, 486- 87 (1994) (holding that a state prisoner does not
state a cognizable civil rights claim challenging his or her
imprisonment if a ruling on the claim would necessarily
render his or her continuing confinement invalid, until and
unless the reason for that confinement has been reversed on
direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid
by a state tribunal, or been called into question by a
federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus under
28 U.S.C. § 2254). This holds true regardless of the
relief sought by the plaintiff. Id. at 487-89.
and other Supreme Court cases, when “taken together,
indicate that a state prisoner's § 1983 action is
barred (absent prior invalidation) - no matter the relief
sought (damages or equitable relief), no matter the target of
the prisoner's suit (state conduct leading to conviction
or internal prison proceedings) - if success in that action
would necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of confinement
or its duration.” Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544
U.S. 74, 81-82 (2005). The underlying basis for the holding
in Heck is that “civil tort actions are not
appropriate vehicles for challenging the validity of
outstanding criminal judgments.” Heck, 512
U.S. at 486.
allegations in the complaint concern plaintiff Smith's
state criminal proceedings. If he were to prevail on those
claims, his state criminal convictions and confinement would
be called into question. Consequently, those claims are
barred by Heck and the complaint must be dismissed.
Court further finds that the complaint does not clearly
allege any constitutional violations or discernible injuries
with respect to the co-plaintiffs, nor does it request
specific relief on their behalf. As such, the complaint is
also subject to dismissal, in part, for failure to comply
with Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.