United States District Court, N.D. Ohio
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER
PATRICIA A. GAUGHAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
se plaintiff Vincent Williams, a detainee in the
Cuyahoga County Jail (CCJ), has filed this in forma
pauperis action against Patricia Stipek, Stephen
McGowan, Kevin Cafferkey, Rufus Sims, and John P. Luskin,
complaining about an on-going state criminal prosecution
against him in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas,
Case No. CR-15-596260. He seeks “immediate
removal” of his criminal case from state court,
“production of evidentiary items of jurisdictional
value, ” “federal charges against everyone
involved, ” and “just compensation for malicious
& unlawful prosecution of the accused.” (Complt.,
Prayer for Relief.)
is being prosecuted in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common
Pleas on three counts of rape, one count of gross sexual
imposition, one count of aggravated robbery and two counts of
kidnaping. The crime occurred June 2, 1995. A fingerprint in
the victim's car was matched to Plaintiff. The
victim's medical records from the time of the rape were
also examined. Plaintiff was indicted on June 1, 2015. He was
arrested in Georgia and brought to the State of Ohio to stand
trial. That criminal case is still pending.
has filed five cases in this United States District Court
from September 30, 2016 to December 28, 2016 attempting to
remove the criminal case to federal court, seeking dismissal
of the charges, and requesting monetary damages and
injunctive relief. In this case, he alleges Patricia Stipek,
a Special Investigator with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal
Investigations, asked him to discuss a cold case and to
provide a DNA sample, both of which he refused. Defendants
McGowan, Cafferkey, Sims, and Luskin are all criminal defense
attorneys who represented him at some point during the course
of the pending state criminal case and he objects to aspects
of their representation. Plaintiff does not readily identify
any legal cause of action he intends to assert against these
Defendants. He asks this Court to remove his criminal
prosecution to federal court, and seeks compensation for
malicious and unlawful prosecution, and wrongful
imprisonment. The Sixth Circuit recognizes a claim of
malicious prosecution arising under the Fourth Amendment,
which encompasses wrongful investigation, prosecution,
conviction, and incarceration. Sykes v. Anderson,
625 F.3d 294, 308-310 (6th Cir. 2010). The Court, therefore,
will liberally construe Plaintiff's Complaint to include
a claim of malicious prosecution under the Fourth Amendment.
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,
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).
Complaint must be summarily dismissed. First, as this Court
explained in a prior case Plaintiff previously initiated in
this Court, his state criminal case is not removable
to federal court. See State of Ohio v. Williams,
Case No. 1:16 CV 2650. Accordingly, to the extent Plaintiff
seeks removal of his case, his action is frivolous.
addition, to the extent Plaintiff seeks other relief, the
Court must abstain from exercising jurisdiction. A
federal court must decline to interfere with pending state
proceedings involving important state interests unless
extraordinary circumstances are present. See Younger v.
Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 44-45 (1971). When a person is the
target of an ongoing state action involving important state
matters, he or she cannot interfere with the pending state
action by maintaining a parallel federal action involving
claims that could have been raised in the state case.
Watts v. Burkhart, 854 F.2d 839, 844-48 (6th Cir.
1988). If the state Defendant files such a case,
Younger abstention requires the federal court to
defer to the state proceeding. Id; see also
Pennzoil Co. v. Texaco, Inc., 481 U.S. 1, 15 (1987).
Based on these principles, abstention is appropriate if: (1)
state proceedings are on-going; (2) the state proceedings
implicate important state interests; and (3) the state
proceedings afford an adequate opportunity to raise federal
questions. Middlesex County Ethics Comm. v. Garden State
Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 432 (1982). Abstention is
mandated whether the state court proceeding is criminal,
quasi-criminal, or civil in nature as long as federal court
intervention “unduly interferes with the legitimate
activities of the state.” Younger, 401 U.S. at
three factors supporting abstention are present. The state
court case is still pending and state criminal matters are of
paramount state interest. See Younger, 401 U.S. at
44-45. The third requirement of Younger is that
Plaintiff must have an opportunity to assert his federal
challenges in the state court proceeding. The pertinent
inquiry is whether the state proceedings afford an adequate
opportunity to raise the federal claims. Moore v.
Sims, 442 U.S. 415, 430 (1979). The burden at this point
rests on the Plaintiff to demonstrate that state procedural
law bars presentation of his claims. Pennzoil Co.,
481 U.S. at 14. When a Plaintiff has not attempted to present
his federal claims in the state court proceedings, the
federal court should assume that state procedures will afford
an adequate remedy, in the absence of “unambiguous
authority to the contrary.” Pennzoil, 481 U.S.
at 15. Here, there has been no showing that the concerns
raised by Plaintiff in this federal lawsuit are barred in the
state action. The requirements of Younger are
satisfied and this Court must abstain from interfering in any
pending state court criminal action against the Plaintiff.
the Younger doctrine requires a federal court to
stay an action for damages during the pendency of a state
action on the same matter. See Carroll v. City of Mount
Clemens, 139 F.3d 1072, 1075 (6th Cir. 1998); see
also Schrock v. Fredrick, No. 5:13 CV 2086, 2013 WL
5670976, at *5 (N.D. Ohio Oct. 16, 2013); Myers v.
Franklin Cnty. Court of Common Pleas, 23 F. App'x
201, 206-07 (6th Cir. Aug.7, 2001). Plaintiff, however,
failed to state a viable claim for damages against any of the
Defendants, and there would be no point in staying this case.
It must be dismissed. See Wheat v. Jessamine Journal
Newspaper, No. 95-6426, 1996 WL 476435, at *1 (6th Cir.
Aug. 20, 1996) (stating that it was proper for the district
court to dismiss Plaintiff's damages claims, rather than
hold them in abeyance, when the Plaintiff failed to state a
valid claim for relief).
only plausible claim that the Court can liberally construe
from Plaintiff's pleading arises, if at all, under the
Fourth Amendment. Because the Constitution does not directly
provide for damages, Plaintiff must proceed under one of the
civil rights statutes which authorizes an award of damages
for alleged constitutional violations. Sanders v.
Prentice-Hall Corp. Sys, 178 F.3d 1296 (6th Cir. 1999).
As no other statutory provision appears to present an even