Liggins #147829 v. O'Hair et al
OPINION; signed by Judge Robert Holmes Bell (Judge Robert Holmes Bell, sdb)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
HENRY T. LIGGINS,
Case No. 1:15-cv-28
Honorable Robert Holmes Bell
JOHN D. O’HAIR et al.,
This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
The Court has granted Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Under the Prison Litigation
Reform Act, PUB. L. NO. 104-134, 110 STAT. 1321 (1996), the Court is required to dismiss any
prisoner action brought under federal law if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant immune from such
relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A. The Court must read Plaintiff’s pro se complaint
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). Applying these standards, Plaintiff’s action will be dismissed for failure to state a claim.
Plaintiff is incarcerated in the Michigan Reformatory. In his pro se complaint,
Plaintiff sues Wayne County Prosecutor John O’Hair and former Attorney General Jennifer
According to the Michigan Department of Corrections Offender Tracking and
Information System (OTIS), Plaintiff pleaded guilty in two separate cases to one count of seconddegree criminal sexual conduct (CSC II). On March 7, 1997, the Wayne County Circuit Court
sentenced Plaintiff to imprisonment of five to fifteen years. Approximately one year later, on May
26, 1998, Petitioner was sentenced in the Chippewa County Circuit Court to imprisonment of sevenand-a-half to fifteen years.
In his complaint, Plaintiff makes the following allegations concerning his 1997
conviction in the Wayne County Circuit Court:
Because the Defendant John D. O’Hair P18432 prosecutor of the People of the State
of Michigan of Frank Murphy Hall of Justice 1441 St. Antoine, Wayne County,
Detroit, Michigan 48226, while acting under color of state law willfully deprive[ed]
and violated Plaintiff[’s] state and federal rights of liberty of Fourteenth Amendment
without due process of law because the Defendant John D. O’Hair, P18432,
prosecutor of the People of the State of Michigan of Circuit Court of Frank Murphy
Hall of Justice 1441 St. Antoine, Wayne County, Detroit, Michigan 48226, while
acting under color of state law had never charged Plaintiff Henry T. Liggins with
committing the criminal offense of fourth[-]degree criminal sexual conduct sexual
contact that is a necessary included criminal offense of second[-]degree criminal
sexual conduct sexual contact and Plaintiff was never charged with committing the
criminal offense of fourth[-]degree criminal sexual conduct sexual contact of felonyinformation dated May 2, 1996 of two pages and felony complaint dated May 2, 1996
of two pages and felony warrants dated May 2, 1996 of two pages of 36 District
Recorder’s Court of Wayne County, Detroit, Michigan 48226 and Circuit Court of
Frank Murphy Hall of Justice 1441 St. Antoine, Wayne County, Detroit, Michigan
48226 . . .
(Compl., docket #1, Page ID#7-8.) While Plaintiff’s allegations are difficult to decipher, he appears
to allege that his conviction in the Wayne County Circuit Court violated his due process rights
because the prosecutor never charged him with fourth-degree CSC, which is a lesser included offense
of second-degree CSC. Plaintiff makes nearly identical allegations numerous times throughout the
complaint. He also appears to allege that he has completed his maximum sentence and is being held
in prison illegally.
For relief, Plaintiff seeks monetary damages, declaratory relief, expungement of his
1997 conviction and release from prison.
Plaintiff’s allegations concern his 1997 criminal conviction and the calculation of his
sentences. A challenge to the fact or duration of confinement should be brought as a petition for
habeas corpus and is not the proper subject of a civil rights action brought pursuant to § 1983.1 See
Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 484, 493 (1973) (the essence of habeas corpus is an attack by
a person in custody upon the legality of that custody and the traditional function of the writ is to
secure release from illegal custody). Therefore, to the extent that Plaintiff’s complaint challenges
the fact or duration of his incarceration, it must be dismissed. See Barnes v. Lewis, No. 93-5698,
1993 WL 515483, at *1 (6th Cir. Dec. 10, 1993) (dismissal is appropriate where § 1983 action seeks
equitable relief and challenges fact or duration of confinement); Moore v. Pemberton, 110 F.3d 22,
23-24 (7th Cir. 1997) (reasons for not construing a § 1983 action as one seeking habeas relief include
(1) potential application of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), (2) differing defendants, (3)
differing standards of § 1915(a)(3) and § 2253(c), (4) differing fee requirements, (5) potential
application of second or successive petition doctrine or three-strikes rules of § 1915(g)).
Petitioner has filed two habeas corpus petitions in this Court challenging his 1998 conviction in the Chippewa
County Circuit Court. Both cases were dismissed as time-barred. See Liggins v. Bergh, 2:08-cv-225 (W.D. Mich. June
18, 2009); Liggins v. Bauman, 2:14-cv-120 (W.D. Mich. December 11, 2014).
To the extent Plaintiff seeks injunctive, declaratory and monetary relief for alleged
violations of Constitutional rights, his claim is barred by Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-87, which held that
“in order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other
harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a § 1983
plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been [overturned].” See Edwards v. Balisok,
520 U.S. 641, 646 (1997) (emphasis in original). In Heck, the Supreme Court held that a state
prisoner cannot make a cognizable claim under § 1983 for an allegedly unconstitutional conviction
or for “harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid”
unless a prisoner 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 (footnote omitted). The holding in Heck has been extended to actions seeking injunctive
or declaratory relief. See Edwards, 520 U.S. at 646-48 (declaratory relief); Clarke v. Stalder, 154
F.3d 186, 189-90 (5th Cir. 1998) (claim for injunctive relief intertwined with request for damages);
Wilson v. Kinkela, No. 97-4035, 1998 WL 246401, at *1 (6th Cir. May 5, 1998) (injunctive relief).
Plaintiff’s allegations clearly call into question the validity of his conviction. Therefore, his action
is barred under Heck until his criminal conviction has been invalidated.
Having conducted the review required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the Court
determines that Plaintiff’s action will be dismissed for failure to state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b).
The Court must next decide whether an appeal of this action would be in good faith
within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3). See McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 611
(6th Cir. 1997). For the same reasons that the Court dismisses the action, the Court discerns no
good-faith basis for an appeal. Should Plaintiff appeal this decision, the Court will assess the
$505.00 appellate filing fee pursuant to § 1915(b)(1), see McGore, 114 F.3d at 610-11, unless
Plaintiff is barred from proceeding in forma pauperis, e.g., by the “three-strikes” rule of § 1915(g).
If he is barred, he will be required to pay the $505.00 appellate filing fee in one lump sum.
This is a dismissal as described by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g).
A Judgment consistent with this Opinion will be entered.
February 13, 2015
/s/ Robert Holmes Bell
ROBERT HOLMES BELL
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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