United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
L. Maloney United States District Judge
a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner 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. 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.
time Plaintiff filed his complaint, he was a pretrial
detainee in the Chippewa County Jail. Since filing, Plaintiff
has entered a plea (Supplement, ECF No. 8, PageID.56), and,
apparently, awaits sentencing. Nonetheless, presently, he is
still housed in the Chippewa County Jail. Plaintiff sues
Judge James P. Lambros of the Chippewa Circuit Court,
Chippewa County Prosecutor Robert Stratton, III, Chippewa
County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jillian Sadler, and
Plaintiff's appointed defense counsel, Sara R. MacGregor.
alleges that Judge Lambros, Prosecutor Sadler, and defense
counsel MacGregor all conspired to, and actually did, violate
his constitutional rights in connection with his criminal
prosecution in the Chippewa County Circuit Court. Plaintiff
seeks punitive damages in the amount of one million dollars
from each Defendant.
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. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42,
48 (1988); Street v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d
810, 814 (6th Cir. 1996). Because § 1983 is a method for
vindicating federal rights, not a source of substantive
rights itself, the first step in an action under § 1983
is to identify the specific constitutional right allegedly
infringed. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271
(1994). Plaintiff contends that Defendants have violated his
Fourteenth Amendment right to due process and, because
Defendants were involved in the hearing on a denial of a
motion to suppress, his Fourth Amendment right to be free
from unreasonable searches and seizures.
addition to alleging the violation of a right secured by the
federal Constitution, to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, Plaintiff 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 private 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
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. ...