Jordan v. State of Ohio
Memorandum Opinion and Order that as written, Plaintiff's Complaint does not satisfy the minimum pleading requirements of Federal Civil Procedure Rule 8. This action is dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915(e). The Court certifies, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), that an appeal from this decision could not be taken in good faith. Judge John R. Adams on 3/24/17. (K,C)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
ALFONZIA JORDAN, JR.,
STATE OF OHIO, et al.,
CASE NO. 1:16 CV 2298
JUDGE JOHN R. ADAMS
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION
Pro se Plaintiff Alfonzia Jordan, Jr. filed this action against the State of Ohio. He
supplemented his Complaint on January 12, 2017 and added Cuyahoga County as a Defendant.
In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges he was tried for the rape of his grandchildren based on faulty
DNA evidence and was acquitted of all charges. He indicates his “time frame was violated” but
asserts no other discernable legal claims. He does not specify the relief he seeks.
Plaintiff’s Complaint and supplement are very brief. Plaintiff was the criminal defendant
in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-15-598120-A, charged with three
counts of rape, three counts of kidnaping, and three counts of GSI. He indicates that the DNA
tests were not conducted properly and resulted in false positives. He contends the flaws in tests
were revealed at trial under cross-examination and he was acquitted on all charges. He also
alleges, without explanation, that his “time frame was violated.” (Doc. No. 1 at 1). Other than
what appears to be a claim for denial of a speedy trial, Plaintiff does not identify any legal claims
in his Complaint. He does not specify the relief he seeks.
Standard of Review
Although pro se pleadings are liberally construed, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364,
365 (1982) (per curiam); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), the Court is required to
dismiss an in forma pauperis action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) if it fails to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted, or if it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams,
490 U.S. 319 (1989); Lawler v. Marshall, 898 F.2d 1196 (6th Cir. 1990); Sistrunk v. City of
Strongsville, 99 F.3d 194, 197 (6th Cir. 1996). A claim lacks an arguable basis in law or fact
when it is premised on an indisputably meritless legal theory or when the factual contentions are
clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. A cause of action fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted when it lacks “plausibility in the Complaint.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 564 (2007).
A pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009). The factual
allegations in the pleading must be sufficient to raise the right to relief above the speculative
level on the assumption that all the allegations in the Complaint are true. Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555. The Plaintiff is not required to include detailed factual allegations, but must provide more
than “an unadorned, the-Defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
A pleading that offers legal conclusions or a simple recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not meet this pleading standard. Id. In reviewing a Complaint, the Court must
construe the pleading in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff. Bibbo v. Dean Witter Reynolds,
Inc., 151 F.3d 559, 561 (6th Cir. 1998).
As an initial matter, it is unclear what relief Plaintiff is hoping to obtain from this lawsuit.
Any claim for injunctive relief is moot, as Plaintiff was acquitted of the charges and released
If Plaintiff is seeking monetary damages, he cannot obtain them from these Defendants.
The Eleventh Amendment is an absolute bar to the imposition of liability on a State in federal
court. Latham v. Office of Atty. Gen. of State of Ohio, 395 F.3d 261, 270 (6th Cir. 2005).
Plaintiff’s claims against the State of Ohio are barred by the Eleventh Amendment.
Furthermore, Plaintiff cannot impose liability on the County for the actions of its
employees or officers. A Plaintiff may only hold a local government entity liable under § 1983
for the entity's own wrongdoing. Monell v. New York City Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658,
692- 94 (1978). Section 1983 does not permit a Plaintiff to sue a local government entity on the
theory of respondeat superior. Id. A local government entity violates § 1983 where its official
policy or custom actually serves to deprive an individual of his or her constitutional rights. Id.
A “municipal policy” includes “a policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially
adopted and promulgated.” Powers v. Hamilton County Pub. Defender Comm’n, 501 F.3d 592,
607 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Monell, 436 U.S. at 690). A “custom” for purposes of Monell
liability must “be so permanent and well settled as to constitute a custom or usage with the force
of law.” Monell, 436 U.S. at 691. To state a claim for relief against a municipality under §
1983, Plaintiff must: (1) identify the municipal policy or custom, (2) connect the policy to the
municipality, and (3) show that his particular injury was incurred due to execution of that policy.
Alkire v. Irving, 330 F.3d 802, 815 (6th Cir. 2003). Here, Plaintiff contends he was tried for rape
based on a false positive result in a DNA test. He also asserts his speedy trial rights were
violated. He does not allege either of these actions was the result of a custom of policy of
Cuyahoga County. Absent these allegations, Plaintiff cannot hold the County liable for the
actions of judges, prosecutors or crime lab technicians.
Even if Plaintiff could proceed with civil rights claims against either of these Defendants,
he has not stated a claim upon which relief may be granted.
Although this Court
recognizes that pro se pleadings are to be held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d
108, 110 (6th Cir.1991), the Court is not required to conjure up unpled allegations. Bassett v.
National Collegiate Athletic Ass’n, 528 F.3d 426, 437 (6th Cir. 2008). To meet the basic
pleading requirements of Federal Civil Procedure Rule 8, the Complaint must give the
Defendants fair notice of what the Plaintiff’s claims are and the factual grounds upon which they
rest. Plaintiff includes very few factual allegations. He indicates he was brought to trial on a
DNA test that was not properly performed in the lab, but he does not identify a legal cause of
action he intends to assert with respect to this action. Furthermore, he indicates his right to
speedy trial was violated, but he does not allege any facts to indicate why or how it was violated.
This claim is stated solely as a legal conclusion, which is not sufficient to present a valid claim.
Morgan v. Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 12 (6th Cir. 1987); see also Place v. Shepherd,
446 F.2d 1239, 1244 (6th Cir. 1971) (conclusory section 1983 claim dismissed). As written,
Plaintiff’s Complaint does not satisfy the minimum pleading requirements of Federal Civil
Procedure Rule 8.
Accordingly, this action is dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915(e). The Court
certifies, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), that an appeal from this decision could not be taken
in good faith.1
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Date: March 24, 2017
s/John R. Adams
JOHN R. ADAMS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) provides:
An appeal may not be taken in forma pauperis if the trial court certifies that it is
not taken in good faith.
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