Martin v. Sullivan et al
ORDER of Summary Dismissal. Signed by District Judge Denise Page Hood. (LSau)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Civil No. 2:17-cv-10815
Hon. Denise Page Hood
PAUL J. SULLIVAN, ET AL,
ORDER OF SUMMARY DISMISSAL
Plaintiff Marcus Martin, a state inmate incarcerated at the Charles
Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson, Michigan, has filed a pro
se civil complaint. The Court granted Plaintiff’s application to proceed in forma
pauperis, and he is proceeding without prepayment of the filing fee in this
action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). After careful consideration, the court
summarily dismisses the complaint.
According to the Michigan Department of Corrections website, Plaintiff
is incarcerated as a result of his 2009 Kent Circuit Court convictions for
narcotics offenses, for which he serving a sentence of 12 to 30 years.1
The complaint names Hon. Paul J. Sullivan (a Kent County Circuit Court
Judge), Timothy M. Doyal (a Kent County Assistant Prosecutor), and Lee A.
Somerville (Plaintiff’s criminal appellate counsel), as defendants. The
complaint alleges that Defendants conspired against him by amending his
motion to withdraw his plea in a manner which scuttled his state court appeal
of his criminal conviction. He claims that as a result of Defendants’ conduct
his is being unlawfully imprisoned pursuant to an invalid conviction. He seeks
a declaratory judgment that his plea and sentence were unconstitutionally
imposed, an order enjoining Defendants from taking retaliatory action, and
any alternative relief to which he is entitled.
A civil complaint filed by a pro se prisoner is subject to the screening
requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Brown v. Bargery, 207 F.3d 863, 866
(6th Cir. 2000). Section 1915(e)(2) requires district courts to screen and to
dismiss complaints that are frivolous, fail to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
Pursuant to FED. R. EVID. 201(c), the Court may take judicial notice
of the information provided on the Michigan Department of Corrections
website. See Daly v. Burt, 613 F. Supp. 2d 916, 920 n.2 (E.D. Mich. 2009);
Ward v. Wolfenbarger, 323 F. Supp. 2d 818, 821 n. 3 (E.D. Mich. 2004).
such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); McGore v. Wigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601,
604 (6th Cir. 1997). A complaint is frivolous and subject to sua sponte
dismissal under § 1915(e) if it lacks an arguable basis in either law or fact.
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A plaintiff fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted, when, construing the complaint in a light
most favorable to the plaintiff and accepting all the factual allegations as true,
the plaintiff undoubtedly can prove no set of facts in support if his claims that
would entitle him to relief. Sistrunk v. City of Strongsville, 99 F.3d 194, 197
(6th Cir. 1996); Cline v. Rogers, 87 F.3d 176, 179 (6th Cir. 1996); Wright v.
MetroHealth Med. Ctr., 58 F.3d 1130, 1138 (6th Cir. 1995).
This civil action seeks to invalidate Plaintiff’s state conviction. In Heck
v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994), the Supreme Court held such
claims to be improper:
[W]hen a state prisoner seeks damages in a § 1983 suit, the
district court must consider whether a judgment in favor of the
plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or
sentence; if it would, the complaint must be dismissed unless
plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has
already been invalidated.
A petition for a writ of habeas corpus provides the appropriate vehicle
for challenging the fact or duration of a prisoner’s confinement in federal court.
Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 486-87 (1973). It appears Plaintiff has
never filed such an action.
Nevertheless, the Court cannot convert this matter into a petition for a
writ of habeas corpus. When a suit that should have been brought under the
habeas corpus statute is prosecuted instead as a civil suit, it should not be
“converted” into a habeas corpus suit and decided on the merits. Pischke v.
Litscher, 178 F. 3d 497, 500 (7th Cir. 1999). Instead, the matter should be
dismissed, leaving it to the prisoner to decide whether to refile it as a petition
for writ of habeas corpus. Id. Moreover, Heck clearly directs a federal district
court to dismiss a civil rights complaint which raises claims that attack the
validity of a conviction; it does not direct a court to construe the civil rights
complaint as a habeas petition. See Murphy v. Martin, 343 F. Supp. 2d 603,
610 (E.D. Mich. 2004).
For the foregoing reasons, the complaint is DISMISSED pursuant to
The Court further find that an appeal from this order would be frivolous
and could not be taken in good faith. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3); Coppedge v.
United States, 369 U.S. 438, 443-45 (1962). Leave to file an appeal in forma
pauperis is therefore also DENIED.
S/Denise Page Hood
Denise Page Hood
Chief Judge, United States District Court
Dated: May 31, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon
counsel of record on May 31, 2017, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
S/LaShawn R. Saulsberry
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