Johnson #146311 v. Taylor et al

Filing 4

OPINION ; signed by Judge R. Allan Edgar (EDTN Judge R. Allan Edgar, cam)

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Johnson #146311 v. Taylor et al Doc. 4 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)). -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 -3- 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 -4- 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 : 8/5/2010 /s/ R. Allan Edgar R. Allan Edgar U n ite d States District Judge -5-

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