Johnson #146311 v. Taylor et al
OPINION ; signed by Judge R. Allan Edgar (EDTN Judge R. Allan Edgar, cam)
Johnson #146311 v. Taylor et al
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA U N IT E D STATES DISTRICT COURT F O R THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN N O R T H E R N DIVISION
JIMMY LEE JOHNSON, P l a i n t i ff, v. S . TAYLOR, et al., Defendants. ____________________________________/ O P IN IO N T h is 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, and Plaintiff has paid the in itia l partial filing fee. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, PUB. L. NO. 104-134, 110 STAT. 1 3 2 1 (1996), the Court is required to dismiss any prisoner action brought under federal law if the c o m p la in t is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks m o n e ta ry relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 42 U .S .C . § 1997e(c). The Court must read Plaintiff's pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. K e r n e r , 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept Plaintiff's allegations as true, unless they are clearly irra tio n a l or wholly incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992). Applying these s ta n d a rd s , Plaintiff's action will be dismissed for failure to state a claim. Discussion I. F a c tu a l allegations C a s e No. 2:10-cv-134 H o n o ra b le R. Allan Edgar
P la in tiff Jimmie Johnson #146311, an inmate at the Chippewa Correctional Facility (U R F ) , filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants
Corrections Officer S. Taylor, Hearing Officer Unknown Robbins, Administrator of Policy and H e a rin gs Richard Stapleton, and Warden Greg McQuiggin. In his complaint, Plaintiff states that he w a s issued a misconduct report for being out of place on May 13, 2009. Plaintiff was found guilty b y Defendant Robbins on May 19, 2009. Plaintiff's request for rehearing was denied. Plaintiff's s u b s e q u e n t petition for judicial review in the state court was denied by Judge Paula J. M. M a n d e rfie ld on March 1, 2010. Plaintiff seeks damages as well as equitable relief. II. F a ilu re to state a claim
A complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim if "`it fails to give the d e fe n d a n t fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atlantic C o r p . v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)). While a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's allegations must include m o re than labels and conclusions. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1 9 4 9 (2009) ("Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory s ta te m e n t s , do not suffice."). The court must determine whether the complaint contains "enough fa c ts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "A claim has fa c ia l plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the re a s o n a b le inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft, 129 S. Ct. a t 1949. Although the plausibility standard is not equivalent to a "`probability requirement,' . . . it a s k s for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Ashcroft, 129 S. Ct. a t 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged but it has not `s h o w [n ]' that the pleader is entitled to relief." Ashcroft, 129 S. Ct. at 1950 (quoting FED. R. CIV. P . 8(a)(2)).
To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right s e c u r e d by the federal Constitution or laws and must show that the deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Dominguez v. Corr. M e d . Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009). Because § 1983 is a method for vindicating federal righ ts , not a source of substantive rights itself, the first step in an action under § 1983 is to identify th e specific constitutional right allegedly infringed. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994). Plaintiff appears to be claiming that his misconduct conviction violated his due p ro c e s s rights. According to the misconduct hearing report, Plaintiff received 7 days loss of p riv ile ge s as the result of his misconduct conviction. To determine whether segregation of an inmate fro m the general prison population involves the deprivation of a liberty interest protected by the due p ro c e s s clause, the Court must determine if the segregation imposes an "atypical and significant" h a rd s h ip on the inmate "in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life." Jones v. Baker, 155 F.3d 9 1 0 , 811 (6th Cir. 1998) (quoting Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 483 (1995)). Under various c irc u m s ta n c e s , the Sixth Circuit has repeatedly found that confinement to administrative segregation d o e s not present an "atypical and significant" hardship implicating a protected liberty interest. See J o n e s , 155 F.3d at 812-23 (two years of segregation while inmate was investigated for murder of p ris o n guard in riot); Rimmer-Bey v. Brown, 62 F.3d 789, 790-91 (6th Cir. 1995) (inmate serving life s e n te n c e was placed in segregation after serving thirty days of detention for misconduct conviction o f conspiracy to commit assault and battery); Mackey v. Dyke, 111 F.3d 460 (6th Cir.1997) (one year o f segregation after inmate was found guilty of possession of illegal contraband and assault and w h e re reclassification was delayed due to prison crowding). Plaintiff has failed to make any a lle ga tio n s which suggest that the 7 day period of "loss of privileges" was an "atypical and
significant" hardship. Consequently, the court concludes that no liberty interest is implicated by his p la c e m e n t. Furthermore, Plaintiff's complaint, as well as the attached documents, establish that if Plaintiff had a right implicating the due process protections of the Constitution, Plaintiff received d u e process of law. In all cases where a person stands to be deprived of his life, liberty or property, h e is entitled to due process of law. This due process of law gives the person the opportunity to c o n v in c e an unbiased decision maker that, for example, he has been wrongly or falsely accused or th a t the evidence against him is false. The Due Process Clause does not guarantee that the procedure w ill produce a correct decision. "It must be remembered that even if a state decision does deprive a n individual of life, [liberty], or property, and even if that decision is erroneous, it does not n e c e s s a rily follow that the decision violated that individual's right to due process." Martinez v. C a lifo r n ia , 444 U.S. 277, 284, n.9 (1980). "[T]he deprivation by state action of a constitutionally p ro te c t e d interest in "life, liberty or property" is not in itself unconstitutional; what is u n c o n s titu tio n a l is the deprivation of such an interest without due process of law." Zinermon v. B u r c h , 494 U.S. 113, 125 (1990) (emphasis in original). Further, an inmate has no right to counsel in disciplinary proceedings. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 569-70 (1974); Franklin v. Aycock, 7 9 5 F.2d 1253, 1263 (6th Cir. 1986). Finally, the court notes that Plaintiff is suing Defendant Robbins in his / her capacity a s an MDOC Hearing Officer. The Sixth Circuit, recognizing that a Michigan hearings officer has a d ju d ic a to ry functions spelled out by statute in the nature of an administrative law judge, has held th a t hearings officers are entitled to absolute judicial immunity in relation to actions within the o ffic e r's authority. Shelly v. Johnson, 849 F.2d 228, 229 (6th Cir. 1988); MICH. COMP. LAWS §§ 7 9 1 .2 5 1 -2 5 5 . See also Williams v. McGinnis, Nos. 02-1336, 02-1837, 2003 WL 245352, at *2 (6th
Cir. Jan. 31, 2003) (recognizing that Michigan's prison hearings officers are entitled to absolute im m u n ity); Thompson v. Mich. Dep't of Corr., No. 01-1943, 2002 WL 22011, at *1 (6th Cir. Jan. 2 , 2002) (same); Gribble v. Bass, No. 93-5413, 1993 WL 524022, at *2 (6th Cir. Dec. 16, 1993) (s a m e ). Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Robbins fail because Defendant Robbins is absolutely im m u n e under the circumstances of this case. Conclusion H a v in g conducted the review now required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the C o u rt 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), and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The Court must next decide whether an appeal of this action would be in good faith w ith in the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3). See McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 611 (6 th Cir. 1997). For the same reasons that the Court dismisses the action, the Court discerns no go o d -fa ith basis for an appeal. Should Plaintiff appeal this decision, the Court will assess the $ 4 5 5 . 0 0 appellate filing fee pursuant to § 1915(b)(1), see McGore, 114 F.3d at 610-11, unless P la in tiff 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 $455.00 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.
D a te d :
/s/ R. Allan Edgar R. Allan Edgar U n ite d States District Judge
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