United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
J. JONKER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a habeas corpus action brought by a person on bond awaiting
trial under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Promptly after the filing
of a petition for habeas corpus, the Court must undertake a
preliminary review of the petition to determine whether
“it plainly appears from the face of the petition and
any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not
entitled to relief in the district court.” Rule 4,
Rules Governing § 2254 Cases; see also Rule
1(b), Rules Governing § 2254 cases (permitting
application of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases to
§ 2241 petitions). If so, the petition must be summarily
dismissed. Rule 4; see Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d
134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970) (district court has the duty to
“screen out” petitions that lack merit on their
face). A dismissal under Rule 4 includes those petitions
which raise legally frivolous claims, as well as those
containing factual allegations that are palpably incredible
or false. Carson v. Burke, 178 F.3d 434, 436-37 (6th
Cir. 1999). After undertaking the review required by Rule 4,
the Court concludes that the petition must be dismissed
without prejudice on grounds of abstention.
Earnest Griffin presently is on bond issued by the 61st and
63rd District Courts of Michigan,  pending disposition of a
number of driving offenses: operating a motor vehicle while
intoxicated and four incidents of driving a motor vehicle
with a revoked or suspended license.
filed his habeas corpus petition on or about October 28,
2019. The petition raises 2 grounds for relief, as follows:
I. Article 3 of the Constitution, Peace and Friendship treaty
1787, rights of indigenous people, the right of soil[.] Lower
Court has no Jurisdiction or Authority to compel.
II. [H]aven't had a[n] appeal. [S]tated facts to lower
ECF No. 1, PageID.6-7.)
who claims to be an “Indigenous Moorish American
National of the Continental unite[d] states of America”
(Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID.7), challenges his continued
prosecution in the Michigan district courts, contending that
the state courts lack jurisdiction over him for a variety of
reasons. This Court will abstain from addressing
Plaintiff's claims under the principles enunciated in
Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). In
Younger, the Supreme Court has held that absent
extraordinary circumstances, federal equity jurisdiction may
not be used to enjoin pending state prosecutions. The
Younger abstention doctrine is based on the
principle that the states have a special interest in
enforcing their own laws in their own courts. Id. at
44; 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.”). The rule is “designed to
permit state courts to try state cases free from interference
by federal courts, particularly where the party to the
federal case may fully litigate his claim before the state
court.” Zalman v. Armstrong, 802 F.2d 199, 205
(6th Cir. 1986) (internal quotations omitted). Abstention in
favor of state court proceedings is proper where there
exists: (1) an ongoing state proceeding; (2) an important
state interest; and (3) an adequate opportunity in the state
judicial proceedings to raise constitutional challenges.
Middlesex County Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar
Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 432, (1982); Fieger v.
Thomas, 74 F.3d 740, 744 (6th Cir. 1996).
three factors that support Younger abstention are
present in this case. First, there is no dispute that there
was an ongoing state judicial proceeding when Plaintiff filed
his complaint. Second, state criminal proceedings involve
important state interests. See, e.g., Cooper v.
Parrish, 203 F.3d 937, 954 (6th Cir. 2000). Third, the
state court proceedings provide an adequate opportunity to
raise constitutional challenges. Nothing prevents Plaintiff
from presenting legitimate federal constitutional claims in
the pending state court proceedings. “‘Abstention
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)). If Petitioner raises federal constitutional claims in
the trial court, and that court denies or otherwise fails to
consider his constitutional claims, he may exercise his right
to an appeal under Michigan law.
is therefore appropriate in the absence of one of three
exceptions to the Younger abstention doctrine in which: (1)
“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) “the
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); or, (3) 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).
while Petitioner arguably suggests that he is being
prosecuted in bad faith due to the courts' lack of
jurisdiction over his conduct, his allegations fail to meet
the narrow exception identified in Huffman, 420 U.S.
at 611. In addition, the statutes under which Petitioner is
being prosecuted are not violative of any constitutional
provision, much less flagrantly and patently so. Indeed,
Moorish-American-sovereign-citizen claims such as those
presented by Petitioner repeatedly have been found to be
frivolous. See, e.g., Jackson-El v. State & Fed.
Plaintiffs in Gen., No. 1:11-cv-278, 2011 WL 1584606, at
*1-2 (W.D. Mich. Apr. 26, 2011) (citing United States v.
Burris,231 Fed.Appx. 281, 281 (4th Cir. 2007)
(rejecting as frivolous defendant's notion that courts
lack jurisdiction to prosecute him because of his status as a
Moorish American national); United States v. Toader,
Nos. 09-3787 & 09-4100, 2010 WL 4780362, at *3 (7th Cir.
Nov. 24, 2010) (per curiam) (“Borlea argues that the
federal courts lack subject matter jurisdiction over him
because he is a Native Asiatic Moorish National Citizen. This
argument is frivolous.”)); see also Bey v. City of
Delaware, No. 2:19-cv-3582, 2019 WL 3936711, at *2 (S.D.
Ohio Aug. 20, 2019) (holding that claims that Moorish
Americans are immune from prosecution are irrational and
frivolous) (citing cases); Ward-El v. Barrett, No.