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Elder v. Zuk

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

March 26, 2018

EMMANUEL E. ELDER, Plaintiff,
v.
ARIANA ZUK, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pro se Plaintiff Emmanuel E. Elder filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Lakewood Police Officer Ariana Zuk, Lakewood Police Detective Robert Fuerst, Lakewood Municipal Court Judge Patrick Carroll, Lakewood Prosecutor Pamela L. Roessner and Lakewood Assistant Prosecutor Andrew N. Fleck. In the Complaint, Plaintiff asserts he was arrested and prosecuted without probable cause. He seeks monetary damages.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was involved with two criminal prosecutions in July and August 2017. The first of these prosecutions stemmed from an incident in which a cellular telephone was stolen from a CVS pharmacy. He alleges Fuerst called him on July 22, 2017 to question him about the theft.

         Later police searched his house . He indicates he spoke to Fuerst again on August 2, 2017 and learned a warrant had been issued for his arrest.

         Prior to his arrest on those charges, Plaintiff was involved in an altercation with Sean Derenzo. Plaintiff claims Derenzo tried to rob him on August 21, 2017. Derenzo made the same claims about Plaintiff. Derenzo called Lakewood police and requested assistance. Officers arrived and chased Plaintiff with their weapons drawn. Plaintiff contends they captured him by tackling him to the ground. He claims Zuk was “the most aggressive and violent” of the officers. (ECF No. 1 at 14).

         Plaintiff was arraigned on the theft charges pertaining to the cellular telephone on August 22, 2017 in the Lakewood Municipal Court. He refused to enter a plea or cooperate with appointed counsel. The Court entered a plea on his behalf. Plaintiff challenges the validity of the proceedings, claiming the warrant filed by Fuerst did not comply with Ohio Criminal Rule 4(a)(1), and Carroll would not allow him to represent himself. He asserts these actions violated his Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Eleventh and Fourteenth Amendment rights. That case is still pending.

         Plaintiff also was indicted in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas on August 29, 2017 on two Counts of Robbery and one Count of Obstructing Official Business in connection with the incident involving Derenzo. Because Plaintiff is not awaiting trial on felony charges, he was moved from the Lakewood Jail to the Cuyahoga County Jail. That case is also pending.

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         Standard of Review

         This 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).

         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. 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).

         Judge and Prosecutors

         As an initial matter, three of the five Defendants are immune from damages in this civil rights action. Judges are absolutely immune from civil suits for money damages when the claims against them are based on actions they took while presiding over a case. Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 9 (1991); Barnes v. Winchell, 105 F.3d 1111, 1115 (6th Cir. 1997). They are given 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 when the Defendant was not acting as a judge; or when the Judge's conduct was taken in complete absence of all subject matter jurisdiction of the court over which he or she presides. Mireles, 502 U.S. at ...


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