Coggins v. Young

Filing 3

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER, granting 2 MOTION for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis filed by Gene Coggins as further set out in order. Signed by Judge Mark E. Fuller on 8/7/07. (Attachments: # 1 appeals checklist)(vma, )

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Coggins v. Young Doc. 3 Case 3:07-cv-00698-MEF-CSC Document 3 Filed 08/07/2007 Page 1 of 3 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT F O R THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA E A S T E R N DIVISION G E N E COGGINS, P l a in tif f , v. T O M YOUNG, D e f e n d a n t. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) C I V I L ACTION NO. 3:07-CV698-MEF (W O ) M E M O R A N D U M OPINION AND ORDER U p o n consideration of the plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, it is O R D E R E D that the motion be and is hereby GRANTED. T h e complaint in this 42 U.S.C. 1983 case was filed on August 2, 2007, against T o m Young, a Circuit Judge for Chambers County, Alabama. The plaintiff seeks $ 1 0 ,0 0 0 ,0 0 0 .0 0 in damages against the defendant because the defendant enjoined Coggins f ro m filing documents which encumbered or clouded real property titles of officials of the S ta te of Alabama. In the last paragraph of his complaint, Coggins also states that "[u]nder a ll of the evidence presented this order must be declared null and void . . . " The Court c o n stru e s this as a request that the court declare the injunction void. For the reasons which f o llo w , the Court will dismiss the complaint prior to service of process on the defendant. See 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B). A district court may conclude a case has little or no chance of success and dismiss the Case 3:07-cv-00698-MEF-CSC Document 3 Filed 08/07/2007 Page 2 of 3 complaint before service of process when it determines from the face of the complaint that the factual allegations are "clearly baseless" or that the legal theories are "indisputably meritless." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). Section 1915(e)(2) further authorizes a court to dismiss cases against defendants who are immune or when the action is frivolous. A lawsuit is frivolous if the "plaintiff's realistic chances of ultimate success are slight." Moreland v. Wharton, 899 F.2d 1168, 1170 (11th Cir. 1990). As part of the process of making the determination called for by 1915(e)(2), the trial court determines "whether there is a factual and legal basis, of constitutional dimension, for the asserted wrong." Harris v. Menendez, 817 F.2d 737, 739 (11th Cir. 1987). Furthermore, "[t]hat the complaint states a cause of action does not mean that the action cannot be frivolous for the purposes of a section 1915(d) dismissal." Menendez, 817 F.2d at 739-40 (IFP complaint that states claim under Rule 12(b)(6) may nevertheless be dismissed if court becomes convinced that case is frivolous). Coggins seeks damages from Judge Young for acts taken by him in his judicial capacity during or relating to state court proceedings over which he had jurisdiction. The law is well established that a state judge is absolutely immune from civil liability for acts taken pursuant to her judicial authority. Forrester v. White, 484 U. S. 219, 227-29 (1988); Paisey v. Vitale in and for Broward County, 807 F.2d 889 (11th Cir. 1986); Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978). The complaint for damages is based solely on Judge Young's issuance of injunctive relief against Coggins. Accordingly, Coggin's claims for monetary damages against Judge Young are "based on an indisputably meritless legal theory" and are therefore due to be dismissed under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B). Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. 2 Case 3:07-cv-00698-MEF-CSC Document 3 Filed 08/07/2007 Page 3 of 3 To the extent Coggins seeks declaratory relief from the injunction issued by Judge Young, this Court lacks jurisdiction. "The Rooker-Feldman doctrine prevents ... lower federal courts from exercising jurisdiction over cases brought by `state-court losers' challenging `statecourt judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced.' Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Industries Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284, 125 S.Ct. 1517, 161 L.Ed.2d 454 (2005)." Lance v. Dennis, 546 U.S. 459, ___, 126 S.Ct. 1198, 1199 (2006). Although "Rooker-Feldman is a narrow doctrine," it remains applicable to bar Coggins from proceeding before this Court as this case is "brought by [a] state-court loser[] complaining of injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and inviting district court review and rejection of those judgments. 544 U.S. at 284, 125 S.Ct. [at] 1517." Lance, 546 U.S. at ___, 125 S.Ct. at 1201; District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 486 (1983) (federal district courts "do not have jurisdiction ... over challenges to state court decisions in particular cases arising out of judicial proceedings even if those challenges allege that the state court's action was unconstitutional."). For these reasons, the Court lacks jurisdiction to consider the request for declaratory relief. Based on the foregoing conclusions of law, this case will be dismissed with prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B). A separate final judgment will be entered. D o n e this the 7 th day of August, 2007. /s/ Mark E. Fuller CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 3

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