Ragheed Akrawi v. John Remillet, et al
OPINION filed : The district court's grant of summary judgment to the defendants in their individual capacities is AFFIRMED. The court's order awarding attorney's fees and costs is also AFFIRMED. Decision not for publication. Alan E. Norris, David W. McKeague, and Raymond M. Kethledge (AUTHORING), Circuit Judges. [11-2273, 11-2274, 11-2549]
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION
File Name: 12a1153n.06
Nov 08, 2012
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
JOHN REMILLET; BARBARA SAMPSON,
DEBORAH S. HUNT, Clerk
ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED
STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR
THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF
Before: NORRIS, McKEAGUE, and KETHLEDGE, Circuit Judges.
KETHLEDGE, Circuit Judge. Michigan’s Parole Board discharged Rageed Akrawi from
parole by mistake and in violation of Michigan law. Once the Board discovered its error, it put him
back on parole without giving him a hearing. Akrawi sued the defendants–both of whom are Board
officials—in their official and individual capacities, alleging that they had deprived him of his due
process rights. The district court granted partial summary judgment to Akrawi. The court ordered
the defendants, in their official capacities, to give Akrawi a hearing on the question whether he
should remain on parole. The court also awarded attorney’s fees and costs to Akrawi. The court
granted qualified immunity to the defendants in their individual capacities on Akrawi’s remaining
Akrawi v. Remillet, et al.
The defendants now appeal the hearing order and the fee award. Akrawi cross-appeals the
grant of qualified immunity. We conclude that the defendants’ appeal of the hearing order is moot,
and affirm the fee award and qualified immunity decisions.
In 1991, a jury convicted Akrawi of conspiracy to deliver and manufacture over 650 grams
of cocaine, in violation of Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.7401(2)(a)(1). The crime then carried a
sentence of life without parole. In 1999, the legislature reduced the punishment to life with parole.
In 2008, the Parole Board released Akrawi on parole for a four-year term. In March 2010, the Board
discharged Akrawi from parole early. Defendant John Remillet approved the discharge. Four
months later, defendant Barbara Sampson, chair of the Parole Board, realized that Akrawi’s early
discharge had violated a Michigan statute. See Mich. Comp. Laws § 791.234(8)(d). She promptly
placed Akrawi back on parole.
Akrawi thereafter filed this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The district court held that the
defendants violated Akrawi’s right to due process when they returned him to parole without a
hearing. As relief, the court ordered the defendants to grant him one. But the court also held that
Akrawi’s right to a hearing was not clearly established, and thus granted the defendants qualified
immunity in their individual capacities. Finally, the court awarded $32,220 in attorney’s fees to
Akrawi as the “prevailing party” in the case. See 42 U.S.C. § 1988. The defendants provided
Akrawi with the ordered hearing in November 2011. About two weeks later, the Michigan
Department of Corrections determined that Akrawi should remain on parole.
So the defendants now challenge an order requiring them to hold a hearing they have already
held. That challenge is moot. See Constangy, Brooks & Smith v. Nat. Labor Relations Bd., 851 F.2d
Akrawi v. Remillet, et al.
839, 841–42 (6th Cir. 1988). We certainly do not fault the defendants for their compliance with the
district court’s order; but if they wanted to challenge it, they should have sought a stay of the order
from this court. See, e.g., Am. Civil Liberties Union v. Nat’l Sec. Agency, 497 F.3d 590, 591 (6th
Cir. 2007) (order granting stay pending appeal).
We next consider Akrawi’s challenge to the district court’s decision that the defendants were
entitled to qualified immunity in their individual capacities. We review that decision de novo.
Patrizi v. Huff, 690 F.3d 459, 463 (6th Cir. 2012).
A defendant who violates a plaintiff’s constitutional right is entitled to qualified immunity
if the right was not clearly established such that “a reasonable official would understand that what
he is doing violates that right.” Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 202 (2002), abrogated in part by
Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236 (2009). A right is clearly established so long as “existing
precedent . . . placed the . . . constitutional question beyond debate.” Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 131 S. Ct.
2074, 2083 (2011).
Akrawi argues that the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Morrissey v. Brewer, 408
U.S. 471 (1972), clearly established his right to a hearing before being placed back on parole. There,
the Court held that a parolee is entitled to a hearing before he is returned to prison for a parole
violation. The Court reasoned that “[w]hether any procedural protections are due depends on the
extent to which an individual will be condemned to suffer grievous loss.” Id. at 481. And the Court
held that a parolee is due some process before being returned to prison, because “the liberty of a
parolee . . . includes many of the core values of unqualified liberty, and [parole] termination inflicts
a grievous loss on the parolee[.]” Id. at 482.
Akrawi v. Remillet, et al.
But Morrissey does not speak to whether a return to parole, as opposed to a return to prison,
constitutes a “grievous loss.” And a return to parole is all we have here. The reasoning in Morrissey
therefore does not place “beyond debate” Akrawi’s contention that he was entitled to a hearing. See
al-Kidd, 131 S. Ct. at 2083.
Akrawi also argues that four Michigan state court cases clearly established his right to a
hearing. But we look to federal, not state, case law to determine whether a constitutional right is
clearly established. See Clemente v. Vaslo, 679 F.3d 482, 490 (6th Cir. 2012) (“We look first to the
decisions of the Supreme Court, and then to the case law of this circuit in determining whether the
right claimed was clearly established when the action complained of occurred”). Hence this
argument too is meritless.
That leaves the question whether the district court was correct to award Akrawi all of the
attorney’s fees he requested under 42 U.S.C. § 1988. The defendants argue that the district court
should have awarded Akrawi only 50% of his fee request because he did not obtain all of the relief
he sought. We review the fee award for an abuse of discretion. Lowery v. Jefferson Cnty. Bd. of
Educ., 586 F.3d 427, 437 (6th Cir. 2009).
“When claims are based on a common core of facts or are based on related legal theories, for
the purpose of calculating attorneys fees they should not be treated as distinct claims, and the cost
of litigating the related claims should not be reduced.” Imwalle v. Reliance Med. Prods., Inc., 515
F.3d 531, 554 (6th Cir. 2008). We have therefore “repeatedly rejected mechanical reductions in fees
based on the number of issues on which a plaintiff has prevailed.” Deja Vu of Nashville, Inc. v.
Metro. Gov’t of Nashville & Davidson Cnty., Tenn., 421 F.3d 417, 423 (6th Cir. 2005). Here, the
Akrawi v. Remillet, et al.
defendants are arguing for just such a mechanical reduction, even though all of Akrawi’s claims were
based on a common core of facts. And Akrawi prevailed on his central claim—that the defendants
violated his right to due process. The fact that the district court rejected Akrawi’s claim for
monetary damages does not mean that he is not entitled to a full award of fees. See Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 435 (1983). The district court did not abuse its discretion by awarding the
full amount of fees requested here. Relatedly, we reject as meritless the defendants’ contention that
the district court should have based its fee award upon an hourly rate of $250, rather than $300.
The district court’s grant of summary judgment to the defendants in their individual
capacities is affirmed. The court’s order awarding attorney’s fees and costs is also affirmed.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?