Smith v. Beech et al
ORDER GRANTING APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND DISMISSING CASE Signed by District Judge Avern Cohn. (MVer)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
MICHAEL D. SMITH,
Case No. 17-12938
TERRY WEBB, KEVIN KARSON,
HON. AVERN COHN
GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
Plaintiff Michael Smith1 proceeding pro se, has filed a complaint naming Stephanie
Beech, Terry Webb, Kevin Karson, and John Williams as defendants. For the reasons
that follow, the complaint will be dismissed.
Plaintiff seeks to proceed in forma pauperis. Based upon the information in
plaintiff’s “Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis,” the Court, under 28 U.S.C. § 1915,
GRANTS plaintiff in forma pauperis status.
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (e)(2)(B) a Court may dismiss a complaint at any time if it
A review of the Court’s electronic filing system reveals that plaintiff has filed at
least two other pro se cases in this district. The first case was dismissed as frivolous. See
Smith v. Dillard, 06-13154. The second case was filed the same day as the instant case
and is against some of the same defendants but appears to involve different conduct.
See Smith v. Webb, 17-12939.
determines that the case is frivolous or malicious, that the plaintiff fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted, or seeks relief against a defendant who is immune from
such relief. A complaint "is frivolous where it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in
fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Factual frivolousness includes
allegations that are “clearly baseless,” “fantastic”, or “delusional.” Id. at 327-28.
Moreover, a federal court is always “under an independent obligation to examine
their own jurisdiction,” FW/PBS, Inc. v. City of Dallas, 493 U.S. 215, 231 (1990), and a
federal court may not entertain an action over which it has no jurisdiction. See Insurance
Corp. of Ireland, Ltd. v. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee, 456 U.S. 694, 701 (1982).
Indeed, a court is required to dismiss an action at any time if it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3); See Wagenknecht v. United States, 533 F.3d
412, 416 (6th Cir.2008) (“a district court may sua sponte dismiss an action when it lacks
subject matter jurisdiction.”). A district court may also dismiss a complaint for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) when the allegations therein “are totally
implausible, attenuated, unsubstantial, frivolous, devoid of merit, or no longer open to
discussion.” Apple v. Glenn, 183 F.3d 477, 479 (6th Cir. 1999) (citing Hagans v. Lavine,
415 U.S. 528, 536-37, 94 S. Ct. 1372 (1974).
Finally, the Court must read pro se complaints 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).
The Court has read the complaint. From what can be gleaned, plaintiff says that
defendants, who appear to be police officers, have harassed him, fabricated charges
against him which lead to his arrest in state court without a warrant and resulted in him
having to go to jail. The complaint is subject to dismissal for several reasons.
First, to the extent plaintiff is challenging actions which took place in state court,
this case is barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Under this doctrine, federal courts
lack jurisdiction to review a case litigated and decided in state court. District of Columbia
Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482 & n. 16 (1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust
Co., 263 U.S. 413, 415-16 (1923). This is true even in the face of allegations that "the
state court's action was unconstitutional." Feldman, 460 U.S. at 486; see also Blanton v.
United States, 94 F.3d 227, 233-34 (6th Cir.1996). Instead, review of final determinations
in state judicial proceedings can be obtained only in the United States Supreme Court. 28
U.S.C. § 1257; Feldman, 460 U.S. at 476. To the extent plaintiff is seeking federal court
review of what occurred in the state courts, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine precludes the
exercise of federal jurisdiction. Thus, the complaint is subject to dismissal on this ground.
Second, the complaint is also subject to dismissal based on the Supreme Court’s
decision in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S. Ct. 2364 (1994). In Heck, the
Supreme Court held that a plaintiff cannot recover damages “for allegedly unconstitutional
conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness
would render a conviction or sentence invalid,” unless the plaintiff first shows “that the
conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order,
declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into
question by a federal court’s issuance of a writ of habeas corpus ....” Id. at 486-87. Here,
to the extent plaintiff is challenging and seeking damages arising from state court
proceedings, he has not said that any state court order has been reversed or called into
question. Under these circumstances, the complaint is barred by Heck.
Finally, the complaint is subject to dismissal because it fails to articulate a discrete
claim or allege a basis for jurisdiction. The complaint does not cite a statute, state or
federal, in support of plaintiff’s allegations. Affording the complaint a liberal read, plaintiff
appears to allege a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. However, in order “[t]o state a claim
under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution
and laws of the United States and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed
by a person acting under color of state law.” Leach v. Shelby Cnty. Sheriff, 891 F.2d
1241, 1244 (6th Cir.1989). Allegations of verbal harassment and abuse, however, fail to
state a claim under § 1983. See Freeman v. Arpaio, 125 F.3d 732, 738 (9th Cir. 1997).
The complaint fails to allege the elements of a § 1983 claim.
Overall, even under a liberal pleading standard, the complaint fails to articulate a
viable claim against any of the defendants. The Court also certifies that any appeal from
this decision could not be taken in good faith. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3).
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: September 15, 2017
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