United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER
R. ADAMS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
se Plaintiff Jonathan Alan Call filed this civil rights
action against Crawford County Municipal Court Judge Shane
Leathold, Crawford County Jail Administrator Kent Rachel,
Crawford County Sheriff Scott Kent, Bucyrus City Prosecutor
Rob Radcliff, and Crawford County Municipal Court Bailiff
Tony Stover. In the Complaint, Plaintiff challenges aspects
of his conviction for a probation violation and the
conditions in the Crawford County Jail. He seeks injunctive
and monetary relief.
Complaint can be divided into parts. The first part contains
challenges to his criminal proceedings in the Crawford County
Municipal Court pertaining to a probation violation. The
second part contains complaints about the general conditions
of confinement in the Crawford County Jail.
respect to his criminal proceedings, he contends jail
personnel tricked him into waiving his Miranda rights and his
speedy trial rights. He states the Judge asked incriminating
question at his arraignment by asking him how he pled to the
probation violation charges. He contends the Judge set a cash
bond instead of a recognizance bond and sentenced him to the
maximum term allowed by law. He thinks his sentence for a
probation violation was excessive and violated the Eighth
also complains in general terms about the conditions of
confinement in the jail. He indicates the law library is
inadequate. He alleges the grievance system is ineffective
and lacks a proper appeals process. He alleges jail personnel
do not regularly clean the vents. He contends the jail roof
leaks, allowing mold and asphalt to seep into cells. He
states the jail is overcrowded, and inmates charged with
felonies are sometimes housed in areas where inmates charged
with misdemeanors are housed. Finally, he alleges that the
jail does not have a sterile environment for detainees who
use Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (“CPAP”)
machines. He claims these detainees are housed in two-man
holding cells with the toilet just feet from the CPAP
requests that this Court monitor the Crawford County
Municipal Court arraignments and review probation procedures,
order the jail to correct the conditions described above, and
award him monetary damages.
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).
initial matter, Plaintiff cannot challenge his conviction or
sentence in a civil rights action. In order to recover
damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or
imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose
unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a
§ 1983 Plaintiff must prove that the conviction or
sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by
executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal
authorized to make such determination, or called into
question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of
habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486 (1994). A claim for damages
bearing that relationship to a conviction or sentence that
has not been so invalidated is not cognizable under §
1983. Therefore, when a person convicted of a crime seeks
damages in a § 1983 suit, the Court must consider
whether a judgment in favor of the Plaintiff would
necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or
sentence. If it would, the claim must be dismissed unless the
Plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has
already been invalidated. If, however, the Court determines
the Plaintiff's claim, even if successful, will not
demonstrate the invalidity of any outstanding criminal
judgment against him, the action should be allowed to
proceed, in the absence of some other bar to the suit.
case, Plaintiff claims he was denied speedy trial and Miranda
rights. He also contends the Judge asked incriminating
questions at his arraignment in terms of whether he was
guilty or not guilty, and gave him an excessive sentence. If
these claims are found to have merit, they would call into
question Plaintiff's conviction on the probation
violation and his sentence. He therefore cannot assert them
in a civil rights action unless his conviction or sentence
has been set aside. He does not allege that either of these
events has occurred. The claims regarding the criminal
proceedings cannot proceed.
even if the claims asserted against Judge Leathold were not
barred by Heck, they could not proceed. Judicial
officers are absolutely immune from civil suits for money
damages. Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 9 (1991);
Barnes v. Winchell, 105 F.3d 1111, 1115 (6th Cir.
1997). They are accorded this broad protection to ensure that
the independent and impartial exercise of their judgment in a
case is not impaired by the exposure to damages by
dissatisfied litigants. Barnes, 105 F.3d at 1115.
For this reason, absolute immunity is overcome only in two
situations: (1) when the conduct alleged is performed at a
time when the Defendant is not acting as a judge; or (2) when
the conduct alleged, although judicial in nature, is taken in
complete absence of all subject matter jurisdiction of the
court over which he or she presides. Mireles, 502
U.S. at 11-12; Barnes, 105 F.3d at 1116.
Stump, 435 U.S. at 356-57. A judge will not be
deprived of immunity even if the action he or she took was
performed in error, done maliciously, or was in excess of his
or her ...