680 F.3d 642 (6th Cir. 2012), 10-2322, Heyerman v. County of Calhoun

Docket Nº:10-2322.
Citation:680 F.3d 642
Opinion Judge:DUGGAN, District Judge.
Party Name:Buxton Craig HEYERMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. COUNTY OF CALHOUN, Calhoun County Prosecutor's Office, named as
Attorney:James A. Sauber, IDG PLLC, Battle Creek, Michigan, for Appellant. Jason D. Kolkema, Johnson, Rosati, Labarge, Aseltyne & Field, P.C., Lansing, Michigan, for Appellees. James A. Sauber, IDG PLLC, Battle Creek, Michigan, for Appellant. Jason D. Kolkema, Patrick A. Aseltyne, Johnson, Rosati, Labarge...
Judge Panel:Before: GIBBONS and SUTTON, Circuit Judges; DUGGAN, District Judge. [*] DUGGAN, D.J., delivered the opinion of the court in which GIBBONS and SUTTON, JJ., joined. SUTTON, J. (pp. 649-51), also delivered a separate concurring opinion. SUTTON, Circuit Judge, concurring.
Case Date:May 29, 2012
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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680 F.3d 642 (6th Cir. 2012)

Buxton Craig HEYERMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

COUNTY OF CALHOUN, Calhoun County Prosecutor's Office, named as " Calhoun County Prosecutor," and Susan K. Mladenoff, Defendants-Appellees,

Michigan Department of Corrections, Patricia L. Caruso, Michigan Parole Board, and Barbara S. Sampson, Defendants.

No. 10-2322.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

May 29, 2012

Argued: April 17, 2012.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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ARGUED:

James A. Sauber, IDG PLLC, Battle Creek, Michigan, for Appellant.

Jason D. Kolkema, Johnson, Rosati, Labarge, Aseltyne & Field, P.C., Lansing, Michigan, for Appellees.

ON BRIEF:

James A. Sauber, IDG PLLC, Battle Creek, Michigan, for Appellant.

Jason D. Kolkema, Patrick A. Aseltyne, Johnson, Rosati, Labarge, Aseltyne & Field, P.C., Lansing, Michigan, for Appellees.

Before: GIBBONS and SUTTON, Circuit Judges; DUGGAN, District Judge. [*]

DUGGAN, D.J., delivered the opinion of the court in which GIBBONS and SUTTON, JJ., joined. SUTTON, J. (pp. 649-51), also delivered a separate concurring opinion.

OPINION

DUGGAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff-Appellant Buxton Craig Heyerman was imprisoned for more than seventeen years as a pretrial detainee after a

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state appellate court reversed his criminal conviction and remanded the matter to the trial court. He filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants-Appellees, alleging that this lengthy detention violated his Sixth Amendment speedy-trial rights. Defendants-Appellees are not liable for the alleged constitutional violation under § 1983, however. Therefore, we affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment in their favor.

I.

In January 1988, a jury in Calhoun County, Michigan, found Buxton Craig Heyerman (hereafter " Heyerman" ) guilty of one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and the trial court sentenced him to a prison term of twenty to forty years. On June 8, 1989, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed Heyerman's conviction and remanded the matter to the trial court. Heyerman, through his appellate counsel, was informed and received a copy of the appellate court's decision.

On June 9, 1989, the state trial court entered an acknowledgment of the reversal and remand in its Registry of Actions. On July 6, 1989, the Remittur of Record was entered in the appellate court, ordering inter alia the clerk of the lower court to inform the parties of the decision pursuant to Michigan Court Rule 7.210.1

According to the judge who presided over Heyerman's criminal trial, the procedure in place in his court in 1989, was to notify the parties and schedule a status conference when a case was remanded from the court of appeals. For unknown reasons, however, this procedure was not followed in Heyerman's case. Further, the trial court judge only became aware of the reversal and remand in 2007.

Conrad Sindt, Calhoun County's Prosecuting Attorney from 1981 through 1990 (a period covering Heyerman's trial and conviction and the appellate court's reversal and remand), also did not become aware of the Michigan Court of Appeals' decision until 2007. The procedure in the prosecutor's office in 1989 was for the appellate clerk in the office to receive the decision from the court of appeals and forward it to the assigned assistant prosecuting attorney for further action and to await notification from the trial court. The assistant county prosecutor who handled Heyerman's criminal trial and appeal left the prosecutor's office within months of the Michigan Court of Appeals' decision.

No action was taken in Heyerman's criminal case after the record was returned to the Calhoun County Circuit Court until early 2007, when the case was brought to the attention of the State after Heyerman filed a pro se writ of habeas corpus (although in the wrong court).2

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The judge overseeing the criminal proceedings then appointed counsel to represent Heyerman, who subsequently file a motion to dismiss on speedy-trial grounds. On May 11, 2007, following a series of hearings, the trial court ruled that Heyerman's right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment had been violated and the only remedy was to dismiss the criminal charge with prejudice. The prosecutor did not appeal the decision.

It is not evident from the record who served as Calhoun County's Prosecuting Attorney immediately after Sindt and from January 2001 through December 2008. Defendant-Appellee Susan Mladenoff (" Mladenoff" ) served in that capacity from January 1997 through December 2000, and was elected to another four years' term beginning January 2009. Mladenoff only became aware of Heyerman's criminal case in 2007, when she read a newspaper article concerning the hearings before the trial judge and the dismissal of the case on speedy trial grounds.

On May 6, 2009, Heyerman, with the assistance of counsel, filed this civil rights action against Calhoun County, the " Calhoun County Prosecutor's Office," Mladenoff in her individual and official capacities, the Michigan Department of Corrections (" MDOC" ), the Director of MDOC, the Michigan Parole Board, and the Chairperson of the Michigan Parole Board. Heyerman never served the MDOC or Parole Board defendants and agreed to dismiss those defendants. The district court dismissed the " Calhoun County Prosecutor's Office," finding that it is a non-existent entity. The County and Mladenoff thereafter filed a motion for summary judgment, which the district court granted. The court concluded that Mladenoff is entitled to absolute prosecutorial immunity to the extent she is sued in her individual capacity and that Heyerman failed to demonstrate a municipal policy or practice that was a moving force behind the alleged constitutional violation to hold the County or Mladenoff in her official capacity liable. Heyerman timely appealed the court's decision and judgment.

II.

The district court's grant of summary judgment is reviewed de novo. Provenzano v. LCI Holdings, Inc., 663 F.3d 806, 811 (6th Cir.2011). Summary judgment is appropriate if the materials in the record " show[ ] that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party has the burden of proving the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and its entitlement to summary judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). All facts, including inferences, are viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). The central inquiry is " whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

III.

The district court granted summary judgment to Mladenoff in her individual

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capacity, concluding that Mladenoff's alleged failure to supervise and train her employees relative to their response to remand orders constituted activities " intimately associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process." R.54 at 6-7 (quoting Van de Kamp v. Goldstein, 555 U.S. 335, 341, 129 S.Ct. 855, 172 L.Ed.2d 706 (2009) (quoting Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 430, 96 S.Ct. 984, 47 L.Ed.2d 128 (1976))). On appeal, Heyerman argues that Mladenoff's supervision and training responsibilities are administrative functions to which absolute prosecutorial immunity does not apply. See Imbler, 424 U.S. at 431 n. 33, 96 S.Ct. 984; see also Van de Kamp, 555 U.S. at 343, 129 S.Ct. 855. We find it unnecessary to make this determination.

To state a cognizable claim against an individual under § 1983, " a plaintiff must set forth facts that, when construed favorably, establish (1) the deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States (2) caused by a person acting under color of state law." 3 Sigley v. City of Parma Heights, 437 F.3d 527, 533 (6th Cir.2006). Persons sued in their individual capacities under § 1983 can be held liable based only on their own unconstitutional behavior. See Murphy v. Grenier, 406 Fed.Appx. 972, 974 (6th Cir.2011) (unpublished opinion) (" Personal involvement is necessary to establish section 1983 liability" ); see also Gibson v. Matthews, 926 F.2d 532, 535 (6th Cir.1991) (noting that personal liability " must be based on the actions of that defendant in the situation that the defendant faced, and not based on any problems caused by the errors of others, either defendants or non-defendants" ).

There is no evidence that Mladenoff was directly responsible for the failure to act in response to the Michigan Court of Appeals' remand order. As indicated, Mladenoff first became aware of Heyerman's criminal case in 2007— at which time she was not serving as the County's Prosecuting Attorney. Heyerman nevertheless maintains that Mladenoff may be held personally liable based on her failure, as Calhoun County Prosecuting Attorney, to oversee the assistant county prosecutors' handling of cases remanded from the court of appeals.

Section 1983 liability, however, cannot be premised solely on a theory of respondeat superior, or the right to control employees. Hays v. Jefferson Cnty., 668 F.2d 869, 872 (6th Cir.1982). Supervisory officials are not liable in their individual capacities unless they " either...

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