State of Michigan v. Phillips
ORDER OF REMAND: case remanded to State Court; signed by District Judge Paul L. Maloney (Judge Paul L. Maloney, cmc)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN,
-vTERRY LEE PHILLIPS,
Honorable Paul L. Maloney
ORDER OF REMAND
Defendant Terry Phillips removed this action to federal court. Having reviewed
Phillips’ submissions, the Court will remand the matter to the state court.
Phillips appears to have removed a criminal action against him. The caption of his
complaint identifies the People of the State of Michigan as the plaintiff. He describes himself
as the accused and complains of failures or deficiencies at an arraignment and in the charging
instrument. Plaintiff also complains about a deputy prosecutor and an officer in the public
safety division. Phillips has not, however, filed “a copy of all process, pleadings, and orders
served upon [him] in such action.” 28 U.S.C. § 1455(a).
The United States Supreme Court has “often explained that ‘[f]ederal courts are
courts of limited jurisdiction.’” Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. v. Jackson, 139 S. Ct. 1743, 1746
(2019) (citation omitted). Federal courts “possess only that power authorized by Constitution
and statute . . . .” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994).
Federal courts have an on-going obligation to examine whether they have subject-matter
jurisdiction over an action and may raise the issue on its own. See Hertz Corp. v. Friend,
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559 U.S. 77, 94 (2010); Arbaugh v Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 506 (2006); Wisconsin Dep’t
of Corr. v. Schacht, 524 U.S. 381, 389 (1998).
For criminal actions, 28 U.S.C. § 1443 provides the substantive basis for removing a
State criminal prosecution. Under that statute, a defendant attempting to remove a criminal
action must meet two conditions. Johnson v. Mississippi, 421 U.S. 213, 219 (1975). First,
the defendant must demonstrate that he or she has been denied a civil right that arises under
federal law and that the specific civil right protects racial equality. Id. (citation omitted).
Second, the defendant must demonstrate that the specified federal right has been denied or
cannot be enforced in the State court. Id.; see Conrad v. Robinson, 871 F.2d 612, 614 (6th
Cir. 1989) (describing Section 1443 as a “very special statute to deal with specific and discrete
problems involving removal of cases, civil or criminal, in which the defendant cannot enforce
his claim of civil rights in the state court[.]”).
Phillips has not met either the procedural or the substantive requirements for the
removal of a criminal action from state court. Procedurally, Phillips failed to file the
pleadings and other court submissions along with his notice of removal. See 28 U.S.C. §
1455(a). Substantively, Phillips has not alleged that he has been denied a civil right that arises
under federal law which protects or promotes racial equality. Generally, Phillips complains
about a lack of process. Those argument must first be raised in the state court proceedings,
including through the state court appellate process.
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Because Phillips has not established federal jurisdiction, this Court must remand the
matter to the state courts. IT IS SO ORDERED.
Date: September 8, 2020
/s/ Paul L. Maloney
Paul L. Maloney
United States District Judge
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