United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION
C. NUGENT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
se Plaintiff Leonard Smith filed a “Motion for
Release Habeas Corpus Civil Rights Violations” action
against the State of Ohio. In the Pleading (Doc. # 1),
Plaintiff asserts his attorney asked for and received too
many continuances of his criminal trial. He contends his
speedy trial rights are being violated. He asks this Court to
order the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to release
him and dismiss all charges pending against him.
not clear from the pleading whether Plaintiff intended to
file a civil rights action or a Petition for a Writ of Habeas
Corpus. To the extent he intended to proceed under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, this case must be dismissed. A District Court is
expressly authorized to dismiss any civil action filed by a
prisoner seeking relief from a governmental entity, as soon
as possible after docketing, if the Court concludes that the
Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or if the Plaintiff seeks monetary relief from a
Defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C.
§1915A; Siller v. Dean, No. 99-5323, 2000 WL
145167, at *2 (6th Cir. Feb. 1, 2000); see Hagans v.
Lavine, 415 U.S. 528, 536-37 (1974) (citing numerous
Supreme Court cases for the proposition that attenuated or
unsubstantial claims divest the District Court of
jurisdiction); In re Bendectin Litig., 857 F.2d 290,
300 (6th Cir. 1988) (recognizing that federal question
jurisdiction is divested by unsubstantial claims).
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. Bell Atl.
Corp., 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).
the criminal charges against him are still pending, this
Court must abstain from hearing challenges to the state court
proceedings in a civil rights action. 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
criminal case is still pending and state court 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.
there has been no showing that the claims asserted 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.
extent Plaintiff intended for this case to be a Petition for
a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, it also
must be dismissed. Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3), federal
courts may grant habeas relief on claims by a state pre-trial
detainee if he is in custody in violation of the Constitution
or laws or treaties of the United States. Phillips v.
Hamilton Cnty. Ct. of Common Pleas, 668 F.3d 804, 809
(6th Cir. 2012). Unlike exhaustion under 28 U.S.C. §
2254, exhaustion under § 2241 is not a statutory
requirement. Id. Notwithstanding, the Sixth Circuit
has recognized that, “in the § 2241 context,
‘decisional law has superimposed such a requirement in
order to accommodate principles of federalism.'”
Phillips, 668 F.3d at 810 n. 4 (quoting United
States ex rel. Scranton v. New York, 532 F.2d 292, 294
(2d Cir. 1976)). Therefore, even Petitioners proceeding under
§ 2241 “must exhaust all available state court
remedies before proceeding in federal court, and this usually
requires that they appeal an adverse decision all the way to
the state's court of last resort.”
Phillips, 668 F.3d at 810 (citing Klein v.
Leis, 548 F.3d 425, 429 n. 2 (6th Cir. 2008)). The
requirement of exhaustion “has developed to protect the
state courts' opportunity to confront initially and
resolve constitutional issues arising within their
jurisdictions and to limit federal judicial interference in
state adjudicatory processes.” Atkins v.
Michigan, 644 F.2d 543, 546 (6th Cir. 1981) (citations
omitted). Petitioner does not allege he exhausted his state
court remedies. He therefore cannot bypass the state courts
and proceed to federal court on a § 2241 Petition.
this action is dismissed. The Court certifies, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3), that an appeal from this ...