United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
CARINA M. CARPENTER-JENKINS, THOMAS DENNIS BURNS, SR., J.A.K.B., and T.D.B. III, Plaintiffs,
ANTHONY J. SCOTTA, et al., Defendants.
Stephanie Dawkins Davis, Magistrate Judge
OPINION AND ORDER OVERRULING PLAINTIFF’S
OBJECTIONS [106, 111, 112] AND ACCEPTING MAGISTRATE
JUDGE’S RECOMMENDATION TO DISMISS COMPLAINT
J. MICHELSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
is the biological, minor daughter of Carina M.
Carpenter-Jenkins and Thomas Dennis Burns Sr. In April 2015,
J.A.K.B. was taken from Burns’ custody and placed with
J.A.K.B.’s aunt, Denise Burns. Carpenter-Jenkins
maintains that Denise Burns has a track record of not being
able to provide for her children. Carpenter-Jenkins maintains
that she was not given a fair opportunity to maintain legal
custody over J.A.K.B. In particular, Carpenter-Jenkins says
that she was not given proper notice of parental-rights
hearings in December 2016 and January 2017. And, says
Carpenter-Jenkins, at the December 2016 proceeding that
terminated her parental rights, false statements were made
about her parenting qualifications, including that she was
deceased. So, without aid of an attorney, Carpenter-Jenkins
sued those she believes helped unlawfully terminate her
parental rights over J.A.K.B. (See ECF No. 1, 9, 71,
90.) Among the dozen or so defendants are state-court judges
and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services social
workers and caseworkers. (See ECF No. 9, PageID.32.)
Court referred all pre-trial matters to Magistrate Judge
Stephanie Dawkins Davis, and Carpenter-Jenkins now takes
issue with two of the Magistrate Judge’s orders and one
of her reports and recommendations. In particular,
Carpenter-Jenkins objects to Magistrate Judge Davis’
recommendation to dismiss her case in its entirety. (ECF No.
112.) Carpenter-Jenkins also objects to the Magistrate
Judge’s order denying several motions seeking a default
judgment. (ECF No. 106.) Third, Carpenter-Jenkins objects to
the Magistrate Judge’s order denying her request for
Defendants to be indicted by a grand jury. (ECF No. 111.)
explained below, the Court has reviewed
Carpenter-Jenkins’ objections and finds no reason to
revisit the Magistrate Judge’s determinations.
has filed five motions for “default judgment”
(ECF No. 40, 46, 75, 85, 98) and one seeking leave to file a
motion for default judgment (ECF No. 84). Prior orders by the
Magistrate Judge resolved the first two such motions
(see ECF No. 43, 56); the Magistrate Judge’s
June 2019 order denied Carpenter-Jenkins’ three most
recent motions for default judgment and her request for leave
(ECF No. 105). Carpenter-Jenkins now objects to the June 2019
order. (ECF No. 106.)
reasons, the Court will overrule Carpenter-Jenkins’
objection and affirm the Magistrate Judge’s June 2019
one, Carpenter-Jenkins’ objections to that order are
not timely. The Magistrate Judge denied
Carpenter-Jenkins’ three most recent motions for a
default judgment and the motion for leave on June 26, 2019,
and mailed Carpenter-Jenkins her order that day.
(See ECF No. 105.) Because service was by mail,
Carpenter-Jenkins had three additional days, seventeen in
all, to file objections. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(a),
(d). And because the seventeenth day was a Saturday,
Carpenter-Jenkins had until the following Monday, July 15,
2019, to file her objections. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
6(a)(1)(C). Yet the date stamp from the Clerk’s Office
is July 16, 2019. So Carpenter-Jenkins’ objections were
filed a day late.
even if this Court were to forgive a day, it would overrule
Carpenter-Jenkins’ objection because she has not shown
that there is a basis for a default judgment. First, no
defaults have been entered which is a prerequisite for
obtaining a default judgment. See Devlin v. Kalm,
493 F. App’x 678, 685–86 (6th Cir. 2012). Also
according to Defendants Tiana Chatman, Toni Day, Sharon
Wheeler, and Rhondi Keller, they were served with the
complaint on February 26, 2018. (ECF No. 17, PageID.186.)
Carpenter-Jenkins has not shown otherwise. Michigan Third
Circuit Judges Virgil Smith and Karen Braxton say there were
served on February 26, 2018, and Michigan Third Circuit
Referee Raeigen Evans says she was served on March 15, 2018.
(ECF No. 18, PageID.193–194.) Carpenter-Jenkins has
also not shown otherwise. So these seven defendants, except
for Evans, were required to file a responsive pleading by
March 19, 2018 (Evans had more time). Then, on March 19,
these seven defendants asked for an extension of time to
respond, which the Magistrate Judge later granted. (ECF No.
17, 18, 25.) Before that extension period expired, these
seven defendants filed motions for more definite statement.
(ECF No. 27, 30.) As the Magistrate Judge indicated (ECF No.
105, PageID.1101), a motion for more definite statement stops
the twenty-one-day responsive-pleading clock, see
Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(a)(4), (e); Arthur R. Miller, et
al., 5C Fed. Prac. & Proc. Civ. § 1378 (3d ed.)
(“The pendency of a motion for a more definite
statement postpones the movant’s obligation to file his
responsive pleading.”). The Magistrate Judge ultimately
granted the motions for more definite statement, and
following Carpenter-Jenkins’ filing of a more definite
statement, the seven defendants filed timely motions to
dismiss. (ECF No. 71, 72, 73.) As such, Carpenter-Jenkins has
not established a basis for entering a default judgment.
also objects to the Magistrate Judge’s order denying
her motion for grand-jury indictments. (ECF No. 111.)
to her objections to the order denying default judgment,
Carpenter-Jenkins’ objection to the order on grand-jury
indictments appears to be two days too late. (See
ECF No. 109 (August 9, 2019 order denying motion); ECF No.
111 (August 28, 2019 objection to order).)
the objection were timely (or if the Court were to excuse the
tardy filing), the Magistrate Judge was correct to deny the
motion. The decision to seek a grand-jury indictment is left
to state and federal prosecutors. See Bordenkircher v.
Hayes, 434 U.S. 357, 364 (1978) (“In our system,
so long as the prosecutor has probable cause to believe that
the accused committed an offense defined by statute, the
decision whether or not to prosecute, and what charge to file
or bring before a grand jury, generally rests entirely in his
discretion.”); Linda R.S. v. Richard D., 410
U.S. 614, 619 (1973) (“[A] private citizen lacks a
judicially cognizable interest in the prosecution or
nonprosecution of another.”); Maehr v. ...