United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
TONY A. MAVRAKIS Plaintiff,
SANDRA KURT, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER
R. ADAMS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
se Plaintiff Tony A. Mavrakis filed this action against
Summit County Court of Common Clerk Sandra Kurt. In the
Complaint, Plaintiff alleges Defendant has not yet complied
with a Magistrate's order to strike Plaintiff's
Motion from the Court of Appeals docket and enter it on the
Common Pleas Court docket. He contends the Court Clerk is
denying him access to the courts and due process. He seeks an
Order from this Court directing her to correct the filing and
awarding him monetary damages.
events giving rise to this Complaint occurred in the course
of Plaintiff's criminal case, after he exhausted his
direct appeals and post conviction remedies. The criminal
case arose from a dispute Plaintiff and Robert G. Fye had
over the ownership of a car. State v. Mavrakis, No.
27457, 2015 WL 7572381, at *1-2 (Ohio Ct. App. Nov. 25,
2015). Plaintiff was pulled over while driving the car under
a lifetime license suspension, and as a result, the car was
towed. Id. Fye received police assistance to
retrieve the keys from Plaintiff and claim the car from the
tow yard. Id. Later that day, Plaintiff went to
Fye's apartment with a bayonet demanding that the car be
returned to him. Id. Fye was not home, but his
grandmother and uncle were. Id. Plaintiff beat on
the door with the bayonet, pushed his way in, threatened
Fye's relatives, demanded they summon Fye, and smashed
personal belongings in the apartment. Id. He left
before police arrived. From there, he went to a muffler shop
where Fye's father worked. Fye was not there either, but
Fye's father and sister were present. Plaintiff began to
engage in disruptive behavior; however, Fye's father
pulled out a gun and fired a warning shot. Id.
Plaintiff immediately left the premises. Id.
was arrested and charged with aggravated burglary, vandalism,
and two counts of aggravated menacing for his actions at the
apartment. Id. He was charged with felonious assault
and breaking and entering for his conduct at the muffler
shop. Id. Following a jury trial, Plaintiff was
found guilty of the charges arising out of his actions at the
apartment. Id. He was found not guilty of the
charges relating to the muffler shop. Id. The
presentence investigation report indicated Plaintiff had
prior convictions for felonious assault and aggravated
vehicular homicide. Id. The trial court merged the
vandalism and aggravated menacing convictions into the
aggravated burglary conviction and sentenced Plaintiff to a
mandatory term of seven years in prison on July 9, 2014.
appealed his conviction to the Ohio Ninth District Court of
Appeals. The Appellate Court upheld his conviction on
November 25, 2015. Plaintiff appealed that decision to the
Supreme Court of Ohio on January 6, 2016. The Supreme Court
declined to accept jurisdiction on March 23, 2016.
alleges a state public defender informed him on May 2, 2016
that his habeas corpus petition had to be filed on or before
June 21, 2017. Plaintiff contends that reminded him of
statements the judge made during his sentencing in 2014 and
discovered these statements were not on the transcript of the
proceedings. Plaintiff waited an additional nine months, and
then on February 6, 2017, filed a Motion to Modify or Correct
the Record under Ohio Appellate Rule 9(E). In the case
caption, he stated, “In the Court of Common Pleas, in
the Court of Appeals.” The Court Clerk filed it on the
Ohio Appellate Court docket. Plaintiff protested that he
intended the Motion to be filed in the Common Pleas Court. On
March 2, 2017, an Appellate Court magistrate judge ordered
the Motion to be stricken from the Appellate Court docket and
entered on the Common Pleas Court docket. Plaintiff indicates
the Defendant removed the Motion from the Appellate docket,
but did not enter it on the Common Pleas Court docket. As a
result, the Motion has not yet received a ruling. He asserts
this denied him access to the courts and due process.
Standard of Review
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).
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).
threshold matter, Court Clerks have absolute quasi-judicial
immunity from damages for civil rights violations when they
perform tasks that are an integral part of the judicial
process. Foster v. Walsh, 864 F.2d 416, 417 (6th
Cir. 1988). Whether an act is judicial in character does not
depend on whether it is discretionary. Id. Rather,
immunity applies to all acts of auxiliary court personnel
that are “basic and integral parts of the judicial
function, ” unless those acts are done in the clear
absence of all subject matter jurisdiction of the court.
Mullis v. U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Dist of Nevada, 828
F.2d 1385, 1390 (9th Cir. 1987). Acts committed in error or
in excess of jurisdiction will not abrogate immunity, even if
it results in “grave procedural errors.”
Id. The acts of the Court Clerk about which
Plaintiff complains - deciding where to docket a Motion and
interpreting and following the orders of judicial officers -
are all integral parts of the judicial process and within the
subject matter jurisdiction of her Court. Sindram v.
Suda, 986 F.2d 1459, 1461 (D.C. Cir. 1993)(citing the
Sixth Circuit's decision in
Foster). Sandra Kurt is therefore entitled to
even if the Defendant were not absolutely immune from suit,
Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted. First, Plaintiff was not denied access to the
courts. To state a claim for denial of access to the courts,
Plaintiff must allege that particular actions of the
Defendants prevented him from pursuing or caused the
rejection of a specific non-frivolous direct appeal, habeas
corpus petition, or civil rights action. Lewis v.
Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 351 (1996). The right of access to
the courts is directly related to an underlying claim,
without which a Plaintiff cannot have suffered injury by
being shut out of court. Christopher v. Harbury, 536
U.S. 403, 415 (2002). Plaintiff must therefore “plead
and prove prejudice stemming from the asserted
violation.” Pilgrim v. Littlefield, 92 F.3d
413, 416 (6th Cir.1996). In order words, he must demonstrate
“actual injury” by showing that his underlying
claim was non-frivolous, and that it was frustrated or
impeded by Defendants. Lewis, 518 U.S. at 353.
“It follows that the underlying cause of action,
whether anticipated or lost, is an element that must be
described in the Complaint....” Christopher,
536 U.S. at 415.
case, Plaintiff has not demonstrated actual injury. He
exhausted his direct appeals and filed an unsuccessful post
conviction petition. See State v. Mavrakis, No.
CR-2013-10-2872 (Summit Cty Ct. Comm. Pl. filed Oct. 17,
2013). Both his appeals and his post conviction petition were
denied in 2015. He claims to have remembered in 2017,
statements the judge allegedly made during 2014 sentencing
hearing which were not on the transcript of his sentencing
hearing. He contends this would demonstrate the judge relied
on testimony from deceptive witnesses, made reference to a
plea bargain, and took into consideration the muffler shop
incident when sentencing him. Plaintiff was represented by
counsel at sentencing and on appeal. His attorney could have
raised these issues on appeal. Plaintiff attempted to reopen
his appeal to assert his underlying claims of bias and
ineffective assistance of counsel, which he believes this
altered transcript would demonstrate, but that application