United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
C. SMITH, JUDGE.
matter is before the Court upon the motions of both The
Honorable Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor (“Chief
Justice O'Connor”) and the Supreme Court of Ohio
and the State of Ohio (collectively, the “State
Defendants”). Chief Justice O'Connor filed a Motion
to Dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Doc. 15), and the State
Defendants filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) (Doc. 23)
(collectively, the “Motions”). Plaintiff Steven
Crotts (“Plaintiff”) responded in opposition to
the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 16) and the Motion for Judgment
on the Pleadings (Doc. 24). Chief Justice O'Connor and
the State Defendants replied in support of the Motions. The
Motions are fully briefed and ripe for review. For the
reasons that follow, the Motions are
action arises out of Plaintiff's criminal conviction for
sexual assault. On November 14, 2001, Plaintiff was arrested
when he turned himself in to authorities after learning of an
outstanding warrant for his arrest stemming from a 1999
sexual assault charge. (Doc. 1, Compl. at ¶ 2).
Plaintiff claims there were numerous procedural errors and
civil rights violations that led to his initial conviction,
including improper tolling, failure to serve a warrant, and
ineffective assistance of counsel. (Id.). Plaintiff
appealed his conviction in Ohio's Eighth District Court
of Appeals. (Id. at ¶ 9). The Eighth District
reversed Plaintiff's conviction based on findings that
the victim made several inconsistent statements during the
course of the investigation and trial, the conviction was
based on insufficient evidence, inadmissible and/or
prejudicial evidence was introduced at trial, and the
prosecutors made prejudicial mischaracterizations during the
trial. (Id.). The State of Ohio subsequently filed
an appeal in the Supreme Court of Ohio. On December 15, 2004,
the Supreme Court of Ohio, in an opinion authored by Chief
Justice O'Connor, reversed the Eighth District's
judgment and remanded the case on the basis that the trial
court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted certain
evidence at trial. (Id. at ¶ 14). On remand,
the Eighth District affirmed Plaintiff's conviction.
(Id.). Since 2005, Plaintiff has sought relief from
his conviction in Ohio state courts and in the United States
District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
(Id. at ¶¶ 15-16). Plaintiff's
Complaint alleges multiple instances of ineffective
assistance of counsel in connection with his conviction and
subsequent appeals. (Id. at ¶¶ 2, 10, 11,
commenced the present action to challenge the Ohio Supreme
Court's rules regarding criminal appeals premised on
ineffective assistance of counsel, and the December 15, 2004
decision issued by Chief Justice O'Connor. Chief Justice
O'Connor now moves to dismiss the Complaint and the State
Defendants move for judgment on the pleadings.
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
Motion to Dismiss
Justice O'Connor brings her motion pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, alleging
that Plaintiffs have failed to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted.
the Federal Rules, any pleading that states a claim for
relief must contain a “short and plain statement of the
claim” showing that the pleader is entitled to such
relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). To meet this standard, a party
must allege sufficient facts to state a claim that is
“plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A claim will be
considered “plausible on its face” when a
plaintiff sets forth “factual content that allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
12(b)(6) allows parties to challenge the sufficiency of a
complaint under the foregoing standards. In considering
whether a complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted, the Court must “construe the complaint
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept its
allegations as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in
favor of the plaintiff.” Ohio Police & Fire
Pension Fund v. Standard & Poor's Fin. Servs.
LLC, 700 F.3d 829, 835 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Directv, Inc. v. Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir.
2007)). However, “the tenet that a court must accept a
complaint's allegations as true is inapplicable to
threadbare recitals of a cause of action's elements,
supported by mere conclusory statements.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663. Thus, while a court is to
afford plaintiff every inference, the pleading must still
contain facts sufficient to “provide a plausible basis
for the claims in the complaint”; a recitation of facts
intimating the “mere possibility of misconduct”
will not suffice. Flex Homes, Inc. v. Ritz-Craft
Corp of Michigan, Inc., 491 F. App'x 628, 632 (6th
Cir. 2012); Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
State Defendants move for judgment on the pleadings pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). “After the
pleadings are closed but within such time as not to delay the
trial, any party may move for judgment on the
pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). In deciding a Rule
12(c) motion based on all pleadings, courts apply “the
same de novo standard applicable to motions to
dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).” Grindst ...