United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER [RESOLVING ECF NO.
Benita Y. Pearson, United States District Judge.
Se Plaintiff Samuel Ray Ross, Jr., a state prisoner, has
filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against the Summit County Court of Common Pleas, Judge
Jill Flagg Lanzinger, the State of Ohio, and defense lawyer
Jeff Layborn. The Complaint (ECF No. 1) pertains to his
sentence in Summit County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas No.
CR-2018-02-0523. Plaintiff pleaded guilty to receiving stolen
property in the case and was sentenced on April 5, 2018 to 90
days of incarceration. He asserts he was released from this
sentence on July 1, 2018, but he complains he should have
been released on May 12, 2018. Plaintiff contends his rights
under state law and the United States Constitution were
violated because he was not properly given 52 days of credit
for time he served in the Summit County Jail prior to his
sentencing. ECF No. 1; Supplement to Complaint (ECF No. 3).
He seeks damages of “$250.00 for each day” he
allegedly “sat extra in the jail past [his] release
date, ” as well as “45 days off of the current
sentence” he is serving on another felony. ECF No. 1 at
PageID #: 5.
pro se pleadings are liberally construed and held to
less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365
(1982) (per curiam); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
520 (1972), federal district courts are required under 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) to screen and dismiss
before service any in forma pauperis action that the
court determines is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.
Furthermore, 28 U.S.C. § 1915A requires a district court
to dismiss similar complaints in which prisoners seek redress
from governmental entities, officers, and employees. See
Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470 (6th Cir. 2010).
Court finds that the Complaint (ECF No. 1) must be dismissed
under §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A for three reasons.
to the extent Plaintiff seeks to invalidate or set aside a
state sentence imposed on him, his civil rights complaint
fails to state a cognizable claim. A habeas corpus
proceeding, and not a civil rights action, is the appropriate
remedy for a state prisoner to attack the validity of the
fact or length of his sentence. Wright v. Kinneary,
46 Fed.Appx. 250, 252 (6th Cir. 2002) (“Wright's
claims are subject to dismissal to the extent his complaint
may be construed as a direct attack on the validity of his
confinement.”) (citing Heck v. Humphrey, 512
U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994) and Preiser v. Rodriguez,
411 U.S. 475, 489-90 (1973)).
to the extent Plaintiff seeks damages in connection with an
alleged unconstitutional state sentence, his action is barred
by Heck, which held that a plaintiff may not pursue
a § 1983 damage action arising out of an allegedly
unlawful conviction or sentence unless and until the
plaintiff shows that the conviction or sentence at issue has
been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order,
declared invalid by a state tribunal or called into question
by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.
512 U.S. at 486-87. In the absence of such a showing, any
complaint for damages must be dismissed. See Wright,
46 Fed.Appx. at 252. Nothing in the Complaint (ECF No. 1)
suggests that the state sentence of which he complains has
been called into question or invalidated in any of the ways
articulated in Heck. Accordingly, he has no
cognizable federal civil rights damage claim. See Adams
v. Morris, 90 Fed.Appx. 856, 858 (6th Cir. 2004)
(“Because Adams's confinement has not been remedied
by any of the procedures listed in Heck, the
district court properly found that his claims are not
cognizable under § 1983.”).
all of the defendants Plaintiff sues are immune from a damage
action, or cannot be sued for damages under § 1983.
“The State of Ohio is immune from suit in . . . federal
court” and “Ohio courts are not sui juris.”
Arbino v. Ohio, No. 1:12CV0203, 2012 WL 1756856, at
*2 (S.D. Ohio April 2, 2012). And judges and defense lawyers
are immune from damages actions, or cannot be sued for civil
rights violations allegedly occurring during the performance
of their official duties in criminal cases. See Ireland
v. Tunis, 113 F.3d 1435, 1440 (6th Cir. 1997)
(discussing judicial immunity); Polk Cty. v. Dodson,
454 U.S. 312, 325 (1981) (lawyer does not act under color of
law when performing traditional functions as counsel to a
defendant in a criminal case).
on the foregoing, Plaintiff's Application to Proceed
In Forma Pauperis (ECF No. 2) is granted, and this
action is dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A. The Court certifies pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § ...