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Jackson v. Hudson

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

June 17, 2019

JAMES M. JACKSON, JR., Plaintiff,
STUART HUDSON, et al., Defendants.

          Michael H. Watson Judge.



         Plaintiff, James M. Jackson, Jr., a state inmate who is proceeding without the assistance of counsel, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Stuart Hudson, the Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, Trayce Thalheimer, the Chairperson of the Ohio Board Authority, Kathleen Kovach, Ellen Venters, RF Rauschengerg, Mark Houk, Alicia Handwerk, Shirley Smith, Dr. T. Reveal, Ron Nelson, Jr., the Ohio Adult Parole Authority, and Lisa Hunter. This matter is before the Court upon consideration of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 9), Plaintiff's Response in Opposition (ECF No. 15), and Defendants' Reply in Support (ECF No. 16). For the following reasons, it is RECOMMENDED that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 16) be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. BACKGROUND

         At the outset of this action, Plaintiff requested leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 1.) The Court granted Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis on November 16, 2018. (ECF No. 4.) On the same date, the Undersigned performed an initial screen and permitted Plaintiff to proceed on his claims against Defendants. (Id.) Plaintiff brings civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants.

         Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants failed to provide him with a meaningful statutory mandated parole eligibility/suitability hearing. (ECF No. 3, at pg. 5.) Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that the Parole Board improperly considered Defendant Lisa Hunter, an Institutional Parole Officer at Richland Correctional Institution where Plaintiff is in state custody, an appropriate person to provide a mental health assessment of Plaintiff. (Id.) Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Hunter “is not a qualified individual by standards set forth by the State of Ohio to determine[] mental health fitness to reenter society.” (Id.) Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that introducing his criminal history going back to when he was twelve years of age “is of an erroneous nature” because it is part of his juvenile record. (Id.) Finally, he alleges that the hearing failed “to highlight the improvements made by [P]laintiff in his rehabilitation process.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff requests relief in the form of a new Parole Board hearing, a mental health and psychological evaluation by a licensed and qualified practitioner, and that the Parole Board not use “erroneous and outdated” information when making a decision regarding Plaintiff's parole. (Id. at pg. 6.) On December 20, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 9.) On January 22, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion, attaching his reentry accountability plan, a letter from the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & Marriage and Family Therapist Board regarding Defendant Hunter's licensure records, his previous parole board decisions, and his judgment entry by the Stark County Court of Common Pleas. (ECF Nos. 15 & 15-1.)[1] Defendants filed a Reply in support of their Motion on January 25, 2019. (ECF No. 16.)


         Defendants bring their motion pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, alleging that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), a plaintiff must satisfy the basic federal pleading requirements set forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Under Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Thus, Rule 8(a) “imposes legal and factual demands on the authors of complaints.” 16630 Southfield Ltd., P'ship v. Flagstar Bank, F.S.B., 727 F.3d 502, 503 (6th Cir. 2013).

         Although this pleading standard does not require “‘detailed factual allegations,' . . . [a] pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, '” is insufficient. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). A complaint will not “suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Instead, to survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter . . . to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Facial plausibility is established “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. “The plausibility of an inference depends on a host of considerations, including common sense and the strength of competing explanations for the defendant's conduct.” Flagstar Bank, 727 F.3d at 504 (citations omitted).

         In addition, the Court holds pro se complaints “‘to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Garrett v. Belmont Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't., No. 08-3978, 2010 WL 1252923, at *2 (6th Cir. April 1, 2010) (quoting Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972)). This lenient treatment, however, has limits; “‘courts should not have to guess at the nature of the claim asserted.'” Frengler v. Gen. Motors, 482 Fed.Appx. 975, 976-77 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989)).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Jurisdiction

         Defendants first argue that Plaintiff's Complaint ought to be construed as a complaint for a writ of mandamus to compel the Adult Parole Authority to grant him a new parole hearing. (ECF No. 9, at pg. 4.) Defendants further argue that Plaintiff's Complaint is not cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 because he has no constitutional or statutory right to parole. (Id.) Defendants are correct that “[t]here is no constitutional or inherent right of a convicted person to be conditionally released before the expiration of a valid sentence.” Greenholtz v. Inmates of Nebraska Penal and Corr. Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 7 (1979). Furthermore, “[p]arole for Ohio prisoners lies wholly within the discretion of the [Ohio Adult Parole ...

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