Stoll v. Johnson
OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING CASE, Signed by District Judge John Corbett O'Meara. (WBar)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
TINA MARIE STOLL,
CASE NO. 17-cv-12209
HONORABLE JOHN CORBETT O’MEARA
CHARLES W. JOHNSON,
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S REQUEST FOR IMMEDIATE
CONSIDERATION  AND SUMMARILY DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT 
This matter has come before the Court on plaintiff Tina Marie Stoll’s pro se
complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and her request for immediate consideration of the
complaint. Plaintiff is a state prisoner at the Huron Valley Women’s Complex in
Ypsilanti, Michigan. Defendant Charles W. Johnson is the Chief Judge for Emmet
County Circuit Court in Petoskey, Michigan.
The complaint and exhibits indicate that, in 2014, Plaintiff filed a petition for the
writ of coram nobis in Emmet County Circuit Court. The petition challenged Plaintiff’s
Emmet County convictions for armed robbery, see Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.529, and
assault with intent to commit murder, see Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.83. On February 18,
2015, Judge Johnson denied the petition on grounds that (1) the common law writ of
coram nobis was abolished by court rule in 1963, and (2) after exhausting her appellate
remedies, Plaintiff’s only remedy was to seek relief from the circuit court pursuant to
Subchapter 6.500 of the Michigan Court Rules. See People v. Stoll, No. 12-3717-FC
(Emmet Cty. Cir. Ct. Feb. 18, 2015), ECF No. 1, Ex. 5, Page ID 63.
Plaintiff subsequently filed a civil lawsuit against Judge Johnson in Emmet
County Circuit Court. Judge Johnson moved for summary disposition under Michigan
Court Rule 2.116(C), and Emmet County Circuit Judge George J. Mertz granted Judge
Johnson’s motion. See Stoll v. Johnson, No. 15-104919-CZ (Emmet Cty. Cir. Ct. July
22, 2015), ECF No. 1, Ex. 9, Page ID 110. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed
Judge Mertz’ decision, see Stoll v. Emmet Circuit Court Chief Judge, No. 328998 (Mich.
Ct. App. Oct. 20, 2016) (unpublished), ECF No. 1-1, Ex. 13, Page ID 141-44, and on
May 2, 2017, the Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal because it was not
persuaded to review the issues. See Stoll v. Emmet Circuit Court Chief Judge, No.
155143 (Mich. Sup. Ct. May 2, 2017), ECF No. 1-1, Ex. 18, Page ID 205.
On July 5, 2017, Plaintiff commenced this action. In her pending complaint, she
alleges that Judge Johnson erred when he denied her coram nobis petition and that the
State’s appellate courts erred when they denied relief. Plaintiff contends that the state
courts’ errors caused her material injustice. She seeks a dismissal of her state
convictions and reimbursement of the filing fee for this action.
II. Legal Framework
The Court has granted Plaintiff permission to proceed without prepaying the fees
and costs for this action. Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, federal
district courts must screen an indigent prisoner’s complaint and dismiss the complaint if
it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted, or seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A; Flanory v. Bonn, 604 F.3d 249, 252 (6th Cir. 2010); Smith v.
Campbell, 250 F.3d 1032, 1036 (6th Cir. 2001). A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an
arguable basis in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). “A
complaint is subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim if the allegations, taken as
true, show the plaintiff is not entitled to relief.” Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 215 (2007).
While a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations,” the “[f]actual
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).”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (footnote and citations
omitted). In other words, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted
as true, ‘to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’ ” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). To prevail on a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must prove
two elements: “(1) that he or she was deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or
laws of the United States; and (2) that the deprivation was caused by a person acting
under color of law.” Robertson v. Lucas, 753 F.3d 606, 614 (6th Cir. 2014).
Judge Johnson acts under color of law when performing his official duties, but
Plaintiff has failed to show that Judge Johnson violated her constitutional rights when he
denied her petition for writ of coram nobis. She merely disagrees with Judge Johnson’s
interpretation of the law. Federal district courts “do not have jurisdiction . . . over
challenges to state court decisions in particular cases arising out of judicial proceedings
even if those challenges allege that the state court’s action was unconstitutional.”
District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 486 (1983).
Furthermore, Plaintiff’s request to have her state criminal convictions vacated
would be more appropriate in a federal habeas corpus petition, following exhaustion of
state remedies. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973) (holding that,
when state prisoners are challenging the very fact or duration of their physical
imprisonment, and the relief they seek is a determination that they are entitled to
immediate release or a speedier release from that imprisonment, their sole federal
remedy is a writ of habeas corpus). Because success in this action would necessarily
invalidate Plaintiff’s incarceration, her request to have her convictions vacated is barred
in this civil rights action unless and until her convictions are invalidated by state officials
or called into question by a federal court’s issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.
Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 81-82 (2005); Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 48687 (1994). Plaintiff is not entitled to injunctive relief from Judge Johnson for an
additional reason: state judges are immune from injunctive relief “unless a declaratory
decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable,” 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and
neither one of these exceptions applies here.
Plaintiff’s complaint is frivolous because it lacks an arguable basis in law, and it
fails to state a plausible claim for which relief may be granted. The Court therefore
grants the request for immediate consideration (ECF No. 2), but summarily dismisses
the complaint (ECF No. 1) under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b). The Court
certifies 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, 445
Date: August 4, 2017
s/John Corbett O’Meara
United States District Judge
I hereby certify that on August 4, 2017, a copy of this order was served upon
Plaintiff using first-class U.S. mail.
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