Garrison v. Williams-Bennett et al
ORDER granting 19 Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by District Judge Robert H. Cleland. (JOwe)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 16-12823
KYRA WILLIAMS-BENNETT, et al.,
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Pro se Plaintiff Michael Garrison seeks to challenge the constitutionally of various
special conditions placed upon his parole. In his ten-count complaint, Plaintiff alleges
that Defendants Kyra Williams-Bennett, a parole agent, and Michael Eagen, then-parole
board chairman, added onerous special parole conditions authorized by the Michigan
Sex Offender Registry Act, Mich. Comp. Laws § 28.721 et seq., that these special
conditions bore no rational relation to his offense, and that these actions violated his
constitutional rights. (Dkt. # 1.) Defendant Eagen has filed motion for summary
judgment. (Dkt. # 19.) In opposition, Plaintiff filed a “Response and Counter Motion for
Summary Judgment.” (Dkt. # 29) Defendant Eagen timely filed a reply (Dkt. # 30), and
Plaintiff has declined to file a sur-reply. The court has reviewed the briefs and finds a
hearing unnecessary. See E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2).
The court has no difficulty finding Plaintiff’s claims for money damages against
Defendant Eagen to be unavailing. First, to the extent Plaintiff seeks damages against
Defendant Eagen in his official capacity, such claims are construed as being asserted
against the State of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Corrections, or the Parole
Board, Ward v. City of Nowralk, 640 Fed. Appx. 462, 464 (6th Cir. 2016), and are barred
by sovereign immunity accordingly. McCoy v. Michigan, 369 F. App’x 646, 653-54 (6th
Cir. 2010). Nor can Plaintiff maintain a damages claim against Defendant Eagen in his
individual capacity. A plaintiff asserting a cause of action under § 1983 must show that
each defendant’s individual actions violated his constitutional rights. See Johnson v.
Moseley, 790 F.3d 649, 653 (6th Cir. 2015); Marcillis v. Twp. of Redford, 693 F.3d 589,
596 (6th Cir. 2012) (citing Lanman v. Hinson, 529 F.3d 673, 684 (6th Cir. 2008).
“Respondeat superior or vicarious liability will not attach under § 1983.” City of Canton,
Ohio v. Harris, 469 U.S. 378, 385 (1989). Plaintiff contends that Defendant Eagen was
“clearly personally involved by his signing and authorizing the illegal parole restrictions
upon the Plaintiff in this matter.” (Dkt. # 29, Pg. ID 149.) But Defendant Eagen provided
an affidavit stating that his signature is routinely printed on parole orders and he was not
personally involved in ordering the special conditions at issue. (Dkt. # 19-9.) Plaintiff
points to nothing in the record to contradict Defendant Eagen’s affidavit. The court
concludes that Defendant Eagen was not personally involved in the decision to impose
the special conditions upon Plaintiff.
With respect to Plaintiff’s request for injunctive relief, while the briefing has not
been abysmal, neither has it been particularly helpful from either side. The court shall
assume that deficiencies are the result of the relative dearth of precedent on the subject
matter rather than some lack of attention on the part of Plaintiff or of Defendant’s
counsel. In Defendant’s reply brief, he concedes that absolute immunity does not bar
the request for injunctive relief. (Dkt. # 30, PG. ID 186.)
In any event, “[i]t has been properly held that the Government can infringe the
[F]irst [A]mendment rights of prisoners so long as the restrictions are reasonably and
necessarily related to the advancement of some justifiable purpose of imprisonment.”
Bricker v. Michigan Parole Bd., 405 F. Supp. 1340, 1343 (E.D. Mich. 1975) (quoting
Birzon v. King, 469 F.2d 1241, 1243 (2d Cir. 1972)). “By the same token, when a
convict is conditionally released on parole, the Government retains a substantial interest
in insuring that its rehabilitative goal is not frustrated and that the public is protected
from further criminal acts by the parolee.” Id. Similarly, with respect to his other
constitutional claims, Plaintiff must show that the parole conditions do not rationally
further the state’s legitimate interest in protecting the public. See Jackson v. Jamrog,
411 F.3d 615, 619 (6th Cir. 2005) (“[P]risoners are not considered a suspect class for
purposes of equal protection litigation.”); Sweeton v. Brown, 27 F.3d 1162, 27 F.3d
1162, 1165 (6th Cir. 1994) (finding no federal due process right to state following
statutory parole procedures); Doe v. Wigginton, 21 F.3d 733, 739 (6th Cir. 1994)
(rational basis review applies when the plaintiff is not a member of a suspect class and
a fundamental right is not at issue) (citation omitted).
Plaintiff has two prior convictions for criminal sexual conduct, in 1993 and 2003,
for which he served over five years in prison. (Dkt. # 19-4, Pg. ID 97; Dkt. # 29, Pg. ID
145.) As a result, Plaintiff is a registrant under the Michigan Sex Offender Registry Act,
Mich. Comp. Laws § 28.721 et seq. (Dkt. # 1, Pg. ID 4.) While Plaintiff was on parole for
his 2014 convictions for possession of cocaine, resisting and obstructing, and fleeing
and eluding, he admittedly violated his parole and the Michigan Sex Offender Registry
Act by using an unregistered alias (“Justice Pelcher”) and knowingly associating with
felons—namely, Rosalinda Martinez, whom Plaintiff describes as his then-girlfriend.
(Dkt. # 19-2, Pg. ID 88-89.) Plaintiff was also communicating with Martinez’s 14-year-old
daughter via Facebook and the unregistered emails, and had mailed the girl a phone so
that she could send him pictures of herself. (Dkt. # 19-3, Pg. ID 94.) Plaintiff was reparoled after agreeing to the new, complained-of special conditions (Dkt. # 19-7, Pg. ID
Given Plaintiff’s prior convictions for criminal sexual conduct involving sexual
activity with minors and his recent, repeated parole violations for communicating with a
minor female under an unregistered alias, the court finds no dispute of fact material to
the disposition of this case. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323 (1986). The record here, construed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, does
not support a finding that the conditions placed on Plaintiff’s parole lack a rational basis
and thereby violate Plaintiff’s constitutional rights.
In his response and counter-motion, Plaintiff asks the court to enter a default
judgment against Defendant Williams-Bennett. Yet the clerk of the court denied
Plaintiff’s request for entry of default as to Defendant Bennett because Plaintiff has not
effectuated service. (See Dkt. # 26.) Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m) provides
plaintiffs 90 days from the date the complaint was filed to properly serve defendants, or
else “the court—on motion or on its own after notice to the plaintiff—must dismiss the
action without prejudice against that defendant or order that service to be made within a
specified time.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(m). Ordinarily the court would order Plaintiff to show
cause why his case should not be dismissed with respect to Defendant WilliamsBennett under Rule 4. However, given that the court has already determined that the
special conditions do not violate Plaintiff’s constitutional rights, the court is satisfied that
no such showing is possible. Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED that Defendant’s motion for summary judgment (Dkt. # 19) is
GRANTED. Plaintiff’s “counter-motion” (Dkt. # 29) is DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s complaint (Dkt. # 1) is DISMISSED.
s/Robert H. Cleland
ROBERT H. CLELAND
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: August 9, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was mailed to counsel of record
on this date, August 9, 2017, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
Acting in the absence of Lisa Wagner
Case Manager and Deputy Clerk
S:\Cleland\JUDGE'S DESK\C1 ORDERS\16-12823.GARRISON.grant.summary.judgment.adel.draft.TLH3.docx
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