Hooker v. Michigan, State of et al
OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING Complaint for a Writ of Mandamus and DENYING AS MOOT 4 Motion to Dismiss Signed by District Judge Robert H. Cleland. (LWag)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
CASE NO. 3:20-CV-12411
STATE OF MICHIGAN,
MICHIGAN SUPREME COURT,
OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT FOR A WRIT OF MANDAMUS
Plaintiff Darrell Hooker, confined at the St. Louis Correctional Facility in St. Louis,
Michigan, has filed a pro se complaint for a writ of mandamus against the State of
Michigan and the Michigan Supreme Court alleging that he is being denied due process
because of a delay by the Michigan Supreme Court in ruling on his state criminal
appeal. Plaintiff was convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and seconddegree criminal sexual conduct following a jury trial in the Antrim County Circuit Court
and was sentenced to concurrent terms of 25 to 40 years imprisonment and 10 to 15
years imprisonment on September 6, 2017. See Offender Profile, Michigan Department
of Corrections Offender Tracking Information System (“OTIS”),
http://mdocweb.state.mi.us/OTIS2/otis2profile.aspx?mdocNumber=480543. He filed an
appeal of right with the Michigan Court of Appeals, which affirmed his convictions.
People v. Hooker, No. 340271, 2019 WL 3000913 (Mich. Ct. App. July 19, 2019)
(unpublished). He then filed an application for leave to appeal with the Michigan
Supreme Court on August 22, 2019, see Compl. App’x B, ECF No. 1, PageID.17, which
remains pending in that court.
Plaintiff seeks a writ of mandamus from this court directing the Michigan
Supreme Court to rule on his application for leave to appeal, to reverse his convictions,
and/or to release him on bond while the case remains pending on appeal. The court
has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee for this action.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Having reviewed the matter, the court concludes that the
complaint for a writ of mandamus must be dismissed. The court also concludes that an
appeal from this decision cannot be taken in good faith.
Plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed without prepaying the filing fee in this
action. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), the court is required to sua
sponte dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint before service if it determines that the
action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or
seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 42
U.S.C. § 1997e(c); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The court is similarly required to dismiss
a complaint seeking redress against government entities, officers, and employees which
it finds to be frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or
in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 325 (1989).
A pro se complaint is to be construed liberally. See, e.g., Haines v. Kerner, 404
U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). Nonetheless, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires
that a complaint set forth “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief,” as well as “a demand for the relief sought.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
8(a)(2), (3). The purpose of this rule is to “give the defendant fair notice of what the ...
claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957) and Fed. R. Civ. P.
8(a)(2)). While notice pleading does not require detailed factual allegations, it does
require more than the bare assertion of legal conclusions. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
Rule 8 “demands more than an unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed me
accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “A pleading that offers ‘labels
and conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do.’” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). “Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders
‘naked assertion[s]’ devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.’” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550
U.S. at 557). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true
(even if doubtful in fact).” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56 (citations and footnote omitted).
Complaints for a writ of mandamus are subject to the screening functions of 28
U.S.C. § 1915. See Misiak v. Freeh, 22 F. App’x 384, 386 (6th Cir. 2001) (“The PLRA
applies to mandamus petitions that seek relief analogous to civil complaints under 42
U.S.C. § 1983.”); Green v. Nottingham, 90 F.3d 415, 418 (10th Cir. 1996) (finding
petitions for a writ of mandamus are included within the meaning of the term “civil
action” as used in § 1915).
With the foregoing standards in mind, the court finds that Plaintiff’s complaint for
a writ of mandamus is subject to summary dismissal. Mandamus actions in federal
court are authorized by 28 U.S.C. § 1361. That statute provides: “The district courts
shall have original jurisdiction of any action in the nature of mandamus to compel an
officer or employee of the United States or any agency thereof to perform a duty owed
to the plaintiff.” 28 U.S.C. § 1361. By its terms, the statute only applies to officers or
employees of the United States and does not apply to state officials or employees. See
Haggard v. Tennessee, 421 F.2d 1384, 1386 (6th Cir. 1970) (“[F]ederal courts have no
authority to issue writs of mandamus to direct state courts or judicial officers in the
performance of their duties.”); see also Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman,
465 U.S. 89, 106 (1984) (“[I]t is difficult to think of a greater intrusion on state
sovereignty than when a federal court instructs state officials on how to conform their
conduct to state law.”).
Consequently, the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to issue a writ of
mandamus as to the named state defendants in this case. See, e.g., Topsidis v. State,
No. 97-3283, 1997 WL 778106, *1 (6th Cir. Dec. 11, 1997) (providing that mandamus
complaint against state officials should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction); Sparks v.
Doe, No. 85-3463, 1985 WL 14132, *1 (6th Cir. Dec. 13, 1985) (affirming dismissal of
state prisoner’s mandamus action as frivolous); Lee v. Lynch, et al., No. 2:16-CV10561, 2016 WL 727857, *2 (E.D. Mich. Feb. 24, 2016) (dismissing mandamus action
against state and federal defendants); Howard v. Horton, et al., No. 2:14-cv-127, 2014
WL 3519110, *1 (W.D. Mich. July 15, 2014) (dismissing mandamus complaint against
state officials as frivolous); In re Williams v. Michigan, No. 5:10-CV-12264, 2010 WL
2507781, *1 (E.D. Mich. June 17, 2010) (ruling that § 1361 has “no application” to state
officials). Plaintiff’s mandamus action against the named state defendants is therefore
frivolous and must be dismissed.
Based upon the foregoing discussion, the court concludes that it lacks jurisdiction
to issue a writ of mandamus against the named state defendants. Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED that this action is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE pursuant to
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(b) and 1915A.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 4) is DENIED
S/Robert H. Cleland
ROBERT H. CLELAND
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: October 16, 2020
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was mailed to counsel of record
on this date, October 16, 2020, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
Case Manager and Deputy Clerk
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