United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
J. JONKER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a civil rights action brought by a county jail inmate 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. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 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 housed in the Chippewa County Jail. It appears
he is awaiting sentencing following entry of a nolo
contendere plea. The events of which he complains,
however, do not relate to his confinement, they relate to his
pre-plea representation. Plaintiff is suing appointed
counsel, Chippewa County Chief Public Defender Jennifer
France. He is dissatisfied with the services she provided
when defending Plaintiff in the criminal proceedings.
seeks $600, 000 in 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)).
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); Street v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102
F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir. 1996). In order for a party's
conduct to be under color of state law, it must be
“fairly attributable to the State.” Lugar v.
Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 937 (1982);
Street, 102 F.3d at 814. There must be “a
sufficiently close nexus between the State and the challenged
action of [the defendant] so that the action of the latter
may be fairly treated as that of the State itself.”
Skelton v. Pri-Cor, Inc., 963 F.2d 100, 102 (6th
Cir. 1991) (citing Jackson v. Metro. Edison Co., 419
U.S. 345, 351 (1974)).
cannot show that his court-appointed attorney acted under
color of state law. In Polk Cty. v. Dodson, 454 U.S.
312 (1981), the Supreme Court held that defense counsel
perform a private, not an official, function:
In our system[, ] a defense lawyer characteristically opposes
the designated representatives of the State. The system
assumes that adversarial testing will ultimately advance the
public interest in truth and fairness. But it posits that a
defense lawyer best serves the public, not by acting on
behalf of the State or in concert with it, but rather by
advancing “the undivided interest of his client.”
This is essentially a private function, traditionally filled
by retained counsel, for which state office and authority are
454 U.S. at 318-19 (footnotes omitted). The Polk
County Court further held that this is true even of the
state-appointed and state-paid public defender. Id.
at 321. The Court said that, once a lawyer undertakes the
representation of an accused, the duties and obligations are
the same whether the lawyer is privately retained, appointed,
or serves in a legal aid or defender program. Id. at
323. The Court held that, even though a public defender is
paid by the state, he or she does not act under color of
state law in representing the accused. Id. at 325.
Rather, defense counsel-whether privately retained or paid by
the state-acts purely on behalf of the client and free from
state control. Id. The Sixth Circuit has adhered to
the holding in Polk County in numerous decisions.
See, e.g., Floyd v. Cty. of Kent, 454 Fed.Appx. 493,
497 (6th Cir. 2012) (holding that, when performing
traditional functions as counsel, a public defender is not a
state actor); Powers v. Hamilton Cty. Pub. Defender,
501 F.3d 592, 611 (6th Cir. 2007) (same); Harmon v.
Hamilton Cty. Court of Common Pleas, 83 Fed.Appx. 766,
767 (6th Cir. 2003). Accordingly, Plaintiff's
court-appointed attorney does not act under color of state
law, and no claim under § 1983 can be maintained against
extent that Plaintiff asserts claims of fraud and legal
malpractice, these claims arise solely under state law.
Section 1983 does not provide redress for a violation of a
state law. Pyles v. Raisor, 60 F.3d 1211, 1215 (6th
Cir. 1995); Sweeton v. Brown, 27 F.3d 1162, 1166
(6th Cir. 1994). The Sixth Circuit has stated that district
courts should generally decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over state law claims under these circumstances.
See Landefeld v. Marion Gen. Hosp., 994 F.2d 1178,
1182 (6th Cir. 1993); Haw ...