MONROE-RICKS v. UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS FOR D.C.
MEMORANDUM OPINION Signed by Judge Timothy J. Kelly on 4/27/2021. (adh, )
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
VICKY MONROE-RICKS, et al.,
ATTORNEYS FOR D.C.,
Clerk, U.S. District & Bankruptcy
Court for the District of Columbia
Civil Action No. 1:21-cv-00832 (UNA)
This matter is before the court on its initial review of plaintiffs’ pro se complaint and
application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”). Plaintiff, Vicky Monroe-Ricks, brings
this action on behalf of herself and her son, “Mr. Monroe,” who is currently incarcerated at the
Federal Correctional Institution located in Cumberland, Maryland (“FCI Cumberland”). See
Compl., ECF No. 1, at 1–2. She has filed suit against the United States Attorneys for the District
of Columbia. Id. at 2.
The specific alleged wrongful actions are unclear; the complaint mainly points to Ms.
Monroe-Ricks’s general discontent with defendant’s pursuit of various criminal actions against
her son in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. See id. at 4. She broadly alleges that
defendant has “abused” her son’s rights and engaged in prosecutorial misconduct. See id. She
seeks unspecified damages and sanctions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1927. See id. at 3, 4–5.
First, Ms. Monroe-Ricks has not complied with the requirement of the Local Rules of this
court that a plaintiff “filing pro se in forma pauperis must provide in the [complaint’s] caption the
name and full residence address or official address of each party.” LCvR 5.1(c)(1). She has failed
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to provide this information for herself and for her son, who is only identified as “Mr. Monroe.”
This is insufficient.
Second, Ms. Monroe-Ricks has filed a joint IFP application on behalf of herself and her
son, and has conflated both of their financial circumstances, which she may not do. As a general
rule, a pro se litigant can represent only himself or herself in federal court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1654
("In all courts of the United States the parties may plead and conduct their own cases personally
or by counsel[.]"); Georgiades v. Martin-Trigona, 729 F.2d 831, 834 (D.C. Cir. 1984) (same); U.S.
ex rel. Rockefeller v. Westinghouse Elec. Co., 274 F. Supp. 2d 10, 16 (D.D.C. 2003) (same), affd
sub nom. Rockefeller ex rel. U.S. v. Washington TRU Solutions LLC, No. 03-7120, 2004 WL
180264 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 21, 2004). This requirement includes the submission of separate and
individually executed IFP applications. See generally, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915, 1915A. While a
custodial parent or legal guardian may, under specific circumstances, sue on behalf of their child
as next friend, Mr. Monroe appears to be an adult; there is no indication that he is legally unable
to file this suit on his own behalf and Ms. Monroe-Ricks has not otherwise established that she has
the formal legal authority to file for him. See Whitmore v. Arkansas, 495 U.S. 149, 163–64 (1990);
King v. District of Columbia, 878 F. Supp. 2d 8, 12 (D.D.C. 2012) (citation omitted).
Without properly detailed IFP applications, individually executed and filed by each
plaintiff, the court lacks the information by which it may assess plaintiffs’ respective financial
statuses at this juncture. This is of particular importance for an incarcerated plaintiff like Mr.
Monroe, as additional information is required for prisoners to be considered for IFP status. See
Asemani v. U.S. Citizenship & Immig. Srvs., 797 F.3d 1069, 1072 (D.C. Cir. 2015). More
specifically, federal law, effective April 9, 2006, requires a prisoner plaintiff in a civil action to
pay a filing fee of $350.00. In order for the court to consider an application to proceed without
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prepayment of fees, a prisoner plaintiff must provide the court with a certified copy of his trust
fund account statement (or institutional equivalent), including the supporting ledger sheets, for the
six month period immediately preceding the filing of this complaint, obtained from the appropriate
official of each prison at which a plaintiff is or was confined. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2). Only after
submission of this information can the court will determine a plaintiff’s ability to proceed IFP. If
the court determines that a plaintiff does not have sufficient funds to pay the filing fee at one time,
the court will assess an initial partial filing fee. After payment of the initial partial filing fee,
monthly payments of 20 percent of the deposits made to a plaintiff’s trust fund account during the
preceding month will be forwarded to the clerk of the court each time the account balance exceeds
$10.00. Payments will continue until the filing fee is paid. See id. It also allows the court the
ability to assess whether a prisoner plaintiff is barred from proceeding IFP pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(g). Here, none of this mandatory financial information has been provided.
Even if Ms. Monroe-Ricks were proceeding solely for herself, the complaint falls short
because she has failed to establish standing in this matter. “[A] defect of standing is a defect in
subject matter jurisdiction.” Haase v. Sessions, 835 F.2d 902, 906 (D.C. Cir. 1987); see Lujan v.
Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992) (noting that “the core component of standing is
an essential and unchanging part of the case-or-controversy requirement of Article III”). Federal
courts only have subject matter jurisdiction if there is a “Case” or “Controvers[y]” to be decided,
and in the absence of any actual or threatened injury, no such case or controversy exists. See U.S.
Const. Art. III, § 2. The alleged “injury must be ‘concrete, particularized, and actual or imminent;
fairly traceable to the challenged action; and redressable by a favorable ruling.’ ” Clapper v.
Amnesty Int'l USA, 568 U.S. 398, 409 (2013) (quoting Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms, 561
U.S. 139, 149–50 (2010)). Article III judicial power exists only to redress or otherwise to protect
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against injury to the complaining party and a plaintiff generally must assert their own legal rights
and interests and cannot rest their claim to relief on the legal rights or interests of third parties.
Moses v. Howard Univ. Hosp., 606 F.3d 789, 794–95 (D.C. Cir. 2010); Singh v. Carter, 185 F.
Supp. 3d 11, 21 n. 4 (D.D.C. 2016).
Thus, the court will deny the joint IFP application and dismiss the complaint without
prejudice. The court notes, however, that should either plaintiff determine to refile this litigation
anew and in accordance with the parameters described above (or alternatively upon submission of
the filing fee), there are yet additional deficiencies. For example, Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure requires complaints to contain “(1) a short and plain statement of the grounds
for the court’s jurisdiction [and] (2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a); see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79
(2009); Ciralsky v. CIA, 355 F.3d 661, 668-71 (D.C. Cir. 2004). The Rule 8 standard ensures that
defendants receive fair notice of the claim being asserted so that they can prepare a responsive
answer and an adequate defense and determine whether the doctrine of res judicata applies. Brown
v. Califano, 75 F.R.D. 497, 498 (D.D.C. 1977). Here, the alleged wrongful actions are nebulous,
at best. While it is clear that Ms. Monroe-Ricks believes that her son has been maliciously
prosecuted, see, e.g., Compl. at 4, any substantive details relating thereto are absent from the
complaint, as pled. Furthermore, “this Court cannot sanction conduct before a different tribunal
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1927.” LeFande v. Mische-Hodges, No. 10-cv-1857, 2018 WL 6620129,
at *12 (D.D.C. Dec. 10, 2018) (citing Klein v. Weidner, No. 08-398, 2017 WL 2834260, at *4
(E.D. Pa. June 30, 2017) (collecting cases from, among other courts, the 2d, 5th, and 9th Circuits)).
And the claims also raise jurisdictional issues arising from Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477
(1994), Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), and D.C. Code § 23-110.
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For all of these reasons, all of the IFP application is denied and this matter is dismissed
without prejudice. A separate order accompanies this memorandum opinion.
Date: April 27, 2021
TIMOTHY J. KELLY
United States District Judge
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