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Jurisdiction: Michigan Eastern District Court
Decision Date: 9/11/2017

STATES

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            FEDERAL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Butler v. Crabtree Butler v. Crabtree (E.D. Mich., 2017)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DURMON TROY BUTLER, III, Plaintiff,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        v.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DAVID CRABTREE, et al Defendants

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Civil No. 2: 17-cv-12439

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN SOUTHERN DIVISION

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        September 11, 2017

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DURMON TROY BUTLER, III, Plaintiff, v. DAVID CRABTREE, et al Defendants

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Civil No. 2: 17-cv-12439

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN SOUTHERN DIVISION

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        September 11, 2017

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Paul D. Borman United States District Judge

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        OPINION AND ORDER SUMMARILY DISMISSING CIVIL RIGHTS COMPLAINT AND DENYING THE MOTION FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I. INTRODUCTION

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Court has before it Plaintiff Durmon Troy Butler III's pro se civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is an inmate currently confined at the Saginaw Correctional Facility in Freeland, Michigan. Having reviewed plaintiff's complaint, the Court dismisses it in part with prejudice for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and in part without prejudice. The Court denies plaintiff's motion for the appointment of counsel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Plaintiff has been allowed to proceed without prepayment of fees. See 28 §

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Page 2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        U.S.C. 1915(a); McGore v. Wrigglesworth 114 F. 3d 601, 604 (6th Cir. 1997). However, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) states:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A complaint is frivolous if it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); see also Denton v. Hernandez 504 U.S. 25 32 (1992). Sua sponte dismissal is appropriate if the complaint lacks an arguable basis when filed. McGore 114 F. 3d at 612; Goodell v. Anthony 157 F. Supp. 2d 796 799 (E. D. Mich. 2001).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                To establish a prima facie case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a civil rights plaintiff must establish that: (1) the defendant acted under color of state law; and (2) the offending conduct deprived the plaintiff of rights secured by federal law. West v. Atkins 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); See also Havard v. Puntuer 600 F. Supp. 2d 845 850 (E. D. Mich. 2009). "If a plaintiff fails to make a showing on any essential element of a § 1983 claim, it must fail. " Redding v. St. Eward 241 F. 3d 530, 532 (6th Cir. 2001).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Page 3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        III. COMPLAINT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Plaintiff claims that he was arrested and charged with the crime of second-degree home invasion in Macomb County, Michigan. Plaintiff alleges that defendant David Crabtree, a detective with the Macomb County Sheriff's Department, seized plaintiff's 2000 Chevrolet SUV and other personal property at the time of the arrest. Detective Crabtree claimed that these items were evidence in plaintiff's criminal case. Plaintiff repeatedly requested the return of his vehicle and other property from the Sheriff's Department or the Macomb County Prosecutor's Office. Plaintiff claims that Judge Diane M. Druzinski, a named defendant, did issue an order for the return of plaintiff's property that was not related to the criminal investigation. When some of plaintiff's relatives subsequently went to the Macomb County Jail to obtain his property, Detective Crabtree refused to turn over the property to the relatives, stating that Paul Bukowski, an assistant prosecutor and another named defendant, intended to use this property as evidence against plaintiff at his trial. When plaintiff brought the issue to Judge Druzinski a second time, she refused to help him further. Plaintiff alleges that the deprivation of his property left him without the ability to obtain funds to bond out of jail pending trial or to obtain adequate counsel for his criminal trial. Plaintiff also claims that it caused him mental anguish. Plaintiff was

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Page 4

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        convicted in three separate cases of one count each of first-degree home invasion, second-degree home invasion, and attempted third-degree home invasion. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        IV. DISCUSSION

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed for several reasons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Plaintiff is unable to maintain a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action to either get back his property or obtain monetary damages for the seizure of his property.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                An unauthorized intentional deprivation of property by a state employee does not constitute a violation of the procedural requirements of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment if a meaningful state post-deprivation remedy for the loss is available. Hudson v. Palmer 468 U.S. 517, 533 (1984); Bass v. Robinson 167 F. 3d 1041, 1049 (6th Cir. 1999). A plaintiff who brings a § 1983 procedural due process claim has the burden of pleading and proving that the state remedies for redressing the wrong are inadequate. Vicory v. Walton 721 F.2d 1062, 1066 (6th Cir. 1983). Where a plaintiff in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action fails to demonstrate the inadequacy of his state remedies, the case should be dismissed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Page 5

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        See Bass 167 F. 3d at 1050.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Plaintiff does not allege the inadequacy of remedies in Michigan for him to obtain compensation for the loss of his property. "State tort remedies generally satisfy the post-deprivation process requirement of the Due Process Clauses. " Fox v. Van Oosterum 176 F. 3d 342, 349 (6th Cir. 1999). Because plaintiff does not allege the inadequacy of the post-deprivation remedies in the State of Michigan, his complaint is subject to dismissal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Plaintiff, in fact has adequate post-deprivation remedies available in the Michigan courts. Michigan has several post-deprivation remedies, including M. C. R. 3. 105, which allows for an action for claim and delivery of the property, Mich. Comp. Laws § 600. 2920, which provides a civil action to recover possession of or damages for goods and chattels unlawfully detained, and Mich. Comp. Laws § 600. 6401, the Michigan Court of Claims Act, which establishes a procedure to compensate for alleged unjustifiable acts of state officials. See Copeland v. Machulis 57 F. 3d 476, 480 (6th Cir. 1995).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Because Michigan provides plaintiff with adequate post-deprivation remedies for the loss of his property, the alleged unauthorized intentional deprivation of plaintiff's property would not rise to the level of a violation of due process. See Keenan v. Marker 23 F. App'x. 405, 407 (6th Cir. 2001).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Page 6

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                To the extent that plaintiff seeks monetary damages from his criminal conviction, he is not entitled to relief. Plaintiff is unable to obtain monetary damages arising from his criminal conviction absent a showing that the criminal conviction was overturned. To recover monetary damages for an allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence was reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal, or called into question by the issuance of a federal writ of habeas corpus. Heck v. Humphrey 512 U.S. 477 486-487 (1994); See also Alkire v. Irving 330 F. 3d 802, 816, n. 10 (6th Cir. 2003). Because plaintiff does not allege that his conviction was overturned, expunged, or called into question by a writ of habeas corpus, any allegations relating to his criminal prosecution, conviction, and incarceration against the defendants fail to state a claim for which relief may be granted. See Adams v. Morris 90 F. App'x. 856, 858 (6th Cir. 2004); Dekoven v. Bell 140 F. Supp. 2d 748 756 (E. D. Mich. 2001).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Plaintiff is also not entitled to damages for the alleged mental anguish that he suffered as a result of the alleged wrongful seizure of his property. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e) states that:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Page 7

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Plaintiff is unable to maintain a civil rights action for his alleged mental anguish because his complaint fails to allege any physical injury as a result of the deprivation of his property. See Hardin-Bey v. Rutter 524 F. 3d 789, 795-96 (6th Cir. 2008).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Court dismisses plaintiff's complaint because he has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Because the Court is dismissing plaintiff's allegations relating to his criminal prosecution under Heck the dismissal of those claims will be without prejudice. See e. g. Finley v. Densford 90 F. App'x. 137, 138 (6th Cir. 2004). Plaintiff's remaining claims will be dismissed with prejudice for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Court will deny plaintiff's motion for the appointment of counsel. Although there is a fundamental constitutional right to counsel in criminal cases, there is no constitutional right to appointed counsel in a civil case. Abdur-Rahman v. Michigan Dep't of Corrections 65 F. 3d 489, 492 (6th Cir. 1995). Plaintiff also does not have a statutory right to the appointment of counsel in a federal civil rights case. See Glover v. Johnson 75 F. 3d 264, 268 (6th Cir. 1996). Appointment of counsel is not appropriate in a civil case where a pro se litigant's claims are frivolous or without merit. See Lavado v. Keohane 992 F.2d 601, 605-06 (6th Cir.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Page 8

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1993). The Court will dismiss the complaint. Because plaintiff's complaint against the defendant lacks any arguable basis in the law, this Court certifies that any appeal by the plaintiff would be frivolous and not undertaken in good faith. See Alexander v. Jackson 440 F. Supp. 2d 682 684 (E. D. Mich. 2006)(citing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        V. CONCLUSION

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's Complaint is summarily DISMISSED IN PART FOR FAILING TO STATE A CLAIM UPON WHICH RELIEF CAN BE GRANTED AND IN PART WITHOUT PREJUDICE, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(e)(2) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(A).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the motion for the appointment of counsel Docket No: 3 is DENIED.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that any appeal taken by plaintiff would not be done in good faith.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        SO ORDERED.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                s/Paul D. Borman        PAUL D. BORMAN        UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Dated: September 11, 2017

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Page 9

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The undersigned certifies that a copy of the foregoing order was served upon each attorney or party of record herein by electronic means or first class U.S. mail on September 11, 2017.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                s/Deborah Tofil        Case Manager

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        --------

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Footnotes:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 This Court obtained some of this information from the Michigan Department of Corrections' Offender Tracking Information System (OTIS), which this Court is permitted to take judicial notice of. See Ward v. Wolfenbarger323 F. Supp. 2d 818 821, n. 3 (E. D. Mich. 2004).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        --------

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        --------

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Footnotes:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 This Court obtained some of this information from the Michigan Department of Corrections' Offender Tracking Information System (OTIS), which this Court is permitted to take judicial notice of. See Ward v. Wolfenbarger323 F. Supp. 2d 818 821, n. 3 (E. D. Mich. 2004).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Negative Treatment
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