Kearney v. Washtenaw County Jail
ORDER of Summary Dismissal Signed by District Judge George Caram Steeh. (MBea)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
CASE NO. 17-CV-11236
HON. GEORGE CARAM STEEH
JAMES M. KEARNEY,
WASHTENAW COUNTY JAIL,
ORDER OF SUMMARY DISMISSAL
Pro se plaintiff James Kearney, a prisoner in the Washtenaw County
jail, has filed a petition for a writ of mandamus. Plaintiff has neither paid
the filing fee nor sought leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Complaints for
a writ of mandamus are subject to the screening functions of 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e). See Misiak v. Freeh, 22 F. App’x 384, 386 (6th Cir. 2001). The
court also screens this matter for frivolousness or for failure to state a claim
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) as plaintiff is a prisoner filing a civil
lawsuit seeking relief from governmental officials. Applying those
screening procedures here, the court determines that plaintiff’s petition is
frivolous and fails to state a claim and thus, shall be dismissed.
Although plaintiff does not state the basis for his petition, the authority
of federal courts to issue writs of mandamus is derived from the All Writs
Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651. Under that statute, federal courts may issue all
writs in aid of their respective jurisdictions, including writs in the nature of
mandamus. Haggard v. Tennessee, 421 F.2d 1384, 1385 (6th Cir.1970).
“A writ of mandamus is an extraordinary remedy, and is intended to provide
a remedy only if the plaintiff has exhausted all other avenues of relief and
the defendant owes the plaintiff a clear nondiscretionary duty.” Willis v.
Sullivan, 931 F.2d 390, 395 (6th Cir.1991) (citing Heckler v. Ringer, 466
U.S. 602, 616–17 (1984)).
The All Writs Act provides that “[t]he Supreme Court and all courts
established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or
appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the
usages and principles of law.” 28 U.S.C. § 1651. The All Writs Act is not an
independent grant of jurisdiction to a court, but permits the issuance of
writs in aid of the jurisdiction which a court independently possesses.
Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. v. Henson, 537 U.S. 28, 33 (2002); Tropf v.
Fidelity Nat’l Title Ins., Co., 289 F.3d 929, 943 (6th Cir. 2002) (holding that
federal courts must have an independent basis for subject matter
jurisdiction in order to issue a writ under § 1651). “It is settled that a federal
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court has no general jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus where that is
the only relief sought. In the absence of special statutory authority it can
issue writs of mandamus only as ancillary to and in aid of jurisdiction
otherwise vested in it.” Haggard, 421 F.2d at 1386.
In this suit, plaintiff seeks mandamus relief in the form of an order
compelling Washtenaw County detectives to conduct a fair investigation of
the allegedly false charges against him. Plaintiff claims he has an alibi
defense to the charges that he shot a victim which law enforcement officials
have not investigated. These allegations do not provide an independent
basis for the subject matter jurisdiction of this court; thus, the court cannot
consider his request for a writ of mandamus. In addition, a federal court
cannot issue a writ of mandamus that compels state officials to comply with
state law. See Ohio ex rel. Skaggs v. Brunner, 549 F.3d 468, 479 (6th Cir.
2008) (citing Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 106
Moreover, mandamus is a drastic remedy, to be invoked only in
extraordinary situations where the petitioner can show a clear and
indisputable right to the relief sought. Kerr v. U.S. District Court, 426 U.S.
394, 402-03 (1976); Carson v. U.S. Office of Special Counsel, 633 F.3d
487, 491 (6th Cir. 2011). To qualify for mandamus relief, a plaintiff must
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demonstrate that (1) he has a clear right to relief; (2) the defendant has a
clear, non-discretionary duty to act; and (3) there is no other adequate
remedy available. Heckler, 466 U.S. at 616-17; Carson, 633 F.3d at 491.
Plaintiff has not established any of the elements necessary to qualify for
Accordingly, plaintiff’s petition for a writ of mandamus is DISMISSED
WITH PREJUDICE pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). An
appeal from this decision cannot be taken in good faith. 28 U.S.C. §
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: May 2, 2017
s/George Caram Steeh
GEORGE CARAM STEEH
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
Copies of this Order were served upon attorneys of record on
May 2, 2017, by electronic and/or ordinary mail and also on
James M. Kearney, 2201 Hogback Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48105.
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