United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
L. Maloney United States District Judge.
a civil rights action brought by a pretrial detainee 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. 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). Plaintiff's
complaint is not properly dismissed under 1915A; but, the
Court's preliminary review reveals that the Court must
presently abstain from proceeding with the case under the
abstention doctrine set forth in Younger v. Harris,
401 U.S. 37, 44-55 (1971).
Jeremy Ross Marjamaa is presently detained at the Chippewa
County Jail in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. The events about
which he complains occurred prior to his arrest. Plaintiff
sues Chippewa County Sheriff's Department Detective
alleges that Defendant Mitchell prepared an affidavit in
support of a search warrant that was approved by a judge or
magistrate. The warrant covered a 2007 Kia vehicle. The
execution of the warrant apparently led to the discovery of
evidence that resulted in criminal charges against Plaintiff
and his arrest. Plaintiff alleges that the search warrant is
part of pending criminal case against him. (Compl., ECF No.
claims that the affidavit supporting the warrant is invalid
because it contains false statements. He sues Defendant
Mitchell for intentionally inserting false statements into
the affidavit. Plaintiff also claims that, even without the
false statements, the affidavit is defective because it does
not support a finding of probable cause.
claims that Defendant Mitchell violated Plaintiff's
rights under the Fourth Amendment. As relief, Plaintiff seeks
compensatory and punitive damages.
to the complaint, Plaintiff's lawsuit challenges a search
warrant that relates to a pending criminal case. Generally,
federal courts should abstain from deciding a matter that
would interfere with pending state proceedings involving
important state matters unless extraordinary circumstances
are present. Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 44-55
(1971). This principle is based on notions of equity and
comity, “and a continuance of the belief that the
National Government will fare best if the States and their
institutions are left free to perform their separate
functions in their separate ways.” Id. at 44.
generally permits a federal court to abstain from considering
a plaintiff's claims where: (1) the state proceedings are
ongoing; (2) the state proceedings implicate important state
interests; and (3) the state proceedings afford an adequate
opportunity to raise the federal questions. Middlesex
Cty. Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457
U.S. 423, 432 (1982). Exceptions to the Younger
abstention doctrine have been recognized in the following
circumstances: (1) where “the state proceeding is
motivated by a desire to harass or is conducted in bad faith,
” Huffman v. Pursue, Ltd., 420 U.S.
592, 611 (1975); (2) where “[a] challenged statute is
flagrantly and patently violative of express constitutional
prohibitions, ” Moore v. Sims, 442 U.S. 415,
424 (1979) (quoting Huffman, 420 U.S. at 611); and
(3) where there is “an extraordinarily pressing need
for immediate federal equitable relief, ” Kugler v.
Helfant, 421 U.S. 117, 125 (1975). These exceptions have
been interpreted narrowly. Zalman v. Armstrong, 802
F.2d 199, 205 (6th Cir. 1986).
three factors supporting Younger abstention are
present in this case. First, Plaintiff alleges that the
search warrant relates to a criminal case that is ongoing.
Second, Plaintiff's criminal proceedings involve
important state interests. See Younger, 401 U.S. at
43 (recognizing that when the state proceeding is criminal in
nature, the policy against federal interference is
“particularly” strong); see also Parker v.
Turner, 626 F.2d 1, 8 (6th Cir. 1980)
(“Younger established a near-absolute
restraint rule when there are pending state criminal
proceedings.”). Third, the state court proceedings
provide an adequate opportunity for Plaintiff to raise his
constitutional challenges to the search warrant. He can file
a motion to suppress evidence obtained through the warrant.
Michigan courts routinely consider such motions. See
People v. Franklin, 894 N.W.2d 561, 574 (Mich. 2017)
(affirming trial court's decision to hold an evidentiary
hearing to evaluate the validity of a search warrant
affidavit, the result of which led to the suppression of
evidence and the dismissal of charges against the defendant).
Indeed, “‘[a]bstention is appropriate unless
state law clearly bars the interposition of the
constitutional claims.'” Am. Family Prepaid
Legal Corp. v. Columbus Bar Ass'n, 498 F.3d 328, 332
(6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Squire v. Coughlan, 469
F.3d 551, 556 (6th Cir. 2006)). State law does not clearly
bar the presentation of Plaintiff's constitutional claims
in his criminal proceedings.
Plaintiff's allegations do not implicate any of the
Younger exceptions. He alleges that Defendant
Mitchell acted in bad faith in preparing the search warrant;
however, he does not allege bad faith by the prosecutor in
connection with the criminal prosecution, harassment, a
flagrantly unconstitutional statute, or an extraordinarily
pressing need for federal relief. Thus, the Younger
abstention doctrine applies here. Cf. Michel v. City of
Akron, 278 Fed.Appx. 477, 479 (6th Cir. 2008) (affirming
application of Younger abstention to claim that
defendants violated the plaintiff's Fourth Amendment
rights when searching his property). Consequently, so long as
Plaintiff's criminal proceedings remain pending in state
court, the Court will not review Defendant Mitchell's
actions in connection with the search warrant.
abstention sometimes warrants dismissal of a claim without
prejudice. However, where the only relief sought by the
plaintiff is damages, the Court “must stay the case
instead of exercising its discretion to dismiss the
case.” Nimer v. Litchfield Twp. Bd. of Trs.,
707 F.3d 699, 702 (6th Cir. 2013). “This is because the
United States Supreme Court has held that ‘[u]nder our
precedents, federal courts have the power to dismiss or
remand cases based on abstention principles only where
the relief being sought is equitable or otherwise
discretionary.'” Id. (quoting
Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins. Co., 517 U.S. 706, 731
(1996)); see also Carroll v. Cityof Mount
Clemens, 139 F.3d 1072, ...