Moniz et al v. State of Hawaii et al
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH PREJUDICE. Signed by JUDGE DERRICK K. WATSON on 06/13/2013. (eps)CERTIFICATE OF SERVICEParticipants registered to receive electronic notifications received this document electronically at the e-mail address listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF). Participants not registered to receive electronic notifications were served by first class mail on the date of this docket entry
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF HAWAII
HERBERT L. MONIZ and
ANTOINETTE L. A. VARES
STATE OF HAWAII (Attn: Judges,
Clerks, Police Officers, Police
Commission, Sheriff’s Department,
Judge G. S. Hara, Judge Nakamura
in the District Court of the Third
Circuit, In the Circuit Court of the
Third Circuit Hilo Division);
DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND
NATURAL RESOURCES, STATE
OF HAWAII; DEPARTMENT OF
TAXATION, STATE AND
COUNTY; INTERNAL REVENUE
SERVICE; and STATE LAND USE
) CIV. NO. 13-00086 DKW BMK
) ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT
) WITH PREJUDICE
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH PREJUDICE
On February 21, 2013, Plaintiffs Herbert L. Moniz and Antoinette
L.A. Vares (“Plaintiffs”) filed this action naming as Defendants: Hawai‘i state
judges, clerks, police officers; the state Department of Land and Natural
Resources; the state Department of Taxation; the state Land Use Commission; and
the Internal Revenue Service. Plaintiffs assert that this action invokes the court’s
admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, and the Complaint is styled as a “Bill of
Lading/Salvage Claim.” It appears that Plaintiffs are attempting to contest a traffic
violation and/or eviction following a foreclosure adjudicated in Hawai‘i state court,
on the grounds, inter alia, that they possess title to the state District Court of the
Third Circuit and that Hawai‘i state courts have no “personam jurisdiction” over
Upon sua sponte review, the court DISMISSES the Complaint for
failure to comply with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8 and 12(b)(6). Because
this action is wholly frivolous and Plaintiffs do not state a claim against the state
courts or agencies, this dismissal is with prejudice.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Because Plaintiffs are proceeding pro se, the court liberally construes
their pleadings. See Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 1987) (“The
Supreme Court has instructed the federal courts to liberally construe the ‘inartful
pleading’ of pro se litigants.”) (citing Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365
(1982) (per curiam)). The court also recognizes that “[u]nless it is absolutely clear
that no amendment can cure the defect . . . a pro se litigant is entitled to notice of
the complaint’s deficiencies and an opportunity to amend prior to dismissal of the
action.” Lucas v. Dep’t of Corr., 66 F.3d 245, 248 (9th Cir. 1995).
Nevertheless, the court may dismiss a complaint pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on its own motion. See Omar v. Sea-Land Serv.,
Inc., 813 F.2d 986, 991 (9th Cir. 1987) (“A trial court may dismiss a claim sua
sponte under [Rule] 12(b)(6). Such a dismissal may be made without notice where
the claimant cannot possibly win relief.”); Ricotta v. California, 4 F. Supp. 2d 961,
968 n.7 (S.D. Cal. 1998) (“The Court can dismiss a claim sua sponte for a
Defendant who has not filed a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).”).
Additionally, a complaint that is “obviously frivolous” does not confer federal
subject matter jurisdiction and may be dismissed sua sponte. Franklin v. Murphy,
745 F.2d 1221, 1227 n.6 (9th Cir. 1984); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3); Grupo
Dataflux v. Atlas Global Grp., L.P., 541 U.S. 567, 593 (2004) (“[I]t is the
obligation of both district court and counsel to be alert to jurisdictional
The court may also dismiss a complaint sua sponte for failure to
comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8. Rule 8 mandates that a complaint
include a “short and plain statement of the claim,” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), and that
“each allegation must be simple, concise, and direct.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(d)(1). A
complaint that is so confusing that its “‘true substance, if any, is well disguised’”
may be dismissed sua sponte for failure to satisfy Rule 8. Hearns v. San
Bernardino Police Dep’t, 530 F.3d 1124, 1131 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Gillibeau
v. City of Richmond, 417 F.2d 426, 431 (9th Cir. 1969)); see also McHenry v.
Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1180 (9th Cir. 1996) (“Something labeled a complaint but
written . . . prolix in evidentiary detail, yet without simplicity, conciseness and
clarity as to whom plaintiffs are suing for what wrongs, fails to perform the
essential functions of a complaint.”).
Put differently, a district court may dismiss a complaint for failure to
comply with Rule 8 where the complaint fails to provide defendants with fair
notice of the wrongs they have allegedly committed. See McHenry, 84 F.3d at
1178-80 (affirming dismissal of complaint where “one cannot determine from the
complaint who is being sued, for what relief, and on what theory, with enough
detail to guide discovery”).
The Complaint, although not clear whatsoever, appears to assert that
the State of Hawai‘i does not have clear title to any land within the state, and that
Plaintiffs possess clear titles and “royal patents to the lands of this court house,
third district, circuit court, Hilo Division and I gave you no permission to put this
building vessel on my land and you have no authority over me and my family
sovereign Heir Successors.” Compl. at 3. Plaintiffs also appear to claim that the
state courts are without jurisdiction to enter any orders or apply the laws of the
United States or State of Hawai‘i. As a result, the Complaint alleges that various
court actions are illegal and/or improper.
These allegations are frivolous for several reasons. First, the Ninth
Circuit, this district court, and Hawai‘i state courts have all held that the laws of
the United States and the State of Hawai‘i apply to all individuals in this State. See
United States v. Lorenzo, 995 F.2d 1448, 1456 (9th Cir. 1993) (holding that the
Hawai‘i district court has jurisdiction over Hawai‘i residents claiming they are
citizens of the Sovereign Kingdom of Hawai‘i); Kupihea v. United States, 2009
WL 2025316, at *2 (D. Haw. July 10, 2009) (dismissing complaint seeking release
from prison on the basis that plaintiff is a member of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i);
State v. French, 77 Haw. 222, 228, 883 P.2d 644, 649 (Haw. App. 1994)
(“[P]resently there is no factual (or legal) basis for concluding that the [Hawaiian]
Kingdom exists as a state in accordance with recognized attributes of a state’s
sovereign nature.”) (quotations omitted).
Second, setting aside Plaintiffs’ assertions of admiralty jurisdiction,1
there is no other basis for this court’s jurisdiction. A complaint that is “obviously
frivolous” does not confer federal subject matter jurisdiction and may be dismissed
sua sponte before service of process. Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227 n.6
(9th Cir. 1984); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3); Grupo Dataflux v. Atlas Global
Grp., L.P., 541 U.S. 567, 593 (2004) (“[I]t is the obligation of both district court
and counsel to be alert to jurisdictional requirements.”); Branson v. Nott, 62 F.3d
287, 291 (9th Cir. 1995) (“[D]ismissal of Branson’s complaint was required
because the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction . . . .”).
Third, judicial immunity bars Plaintiff’s claims against the state
judges. “Few doctrines were more solidly established at common law than the
immunity of judges from liability for damages for acts committed within their
judicial jurisdiction.” Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 553-54 (1967). Judicial
immunity “is an immunity from suit, not just from the ultimate assessment of
damages.” Mireless v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11 (1991); see also Stump v. Sparkman,
435 U.S. 349, 356 (1978) (“A judge will not be deprived of immunity because the
action he took was in error, was done maliciously, or was in excess of his
Admiralty concerns accidents and/or commerce, which occur at sea. As far as the court
can discern, none of Plaintiffs’ contentions concern actions that occurred at sea rendering
inapplicable Plaintiffs’ assertions of admiralty jurisdiction.
authority.”). Thus, Plaintiff cannot bring suit against the state courts for applying
the laws of the State of Hawai‘i.
The court therefore DISMISSES the Complaint pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) as legally frivolous and failing to confer jurisdiction on this court. See
Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227 n.6. Although the court recognizes that “[u]nless it is
absolutely clear that no amendment can cure the defect . . . a pro se litigant is
entitled to notice of the complaint’s deficiencies and an opportunity to amend prior
to dismissal of the action,” see Lucas, 66 F.3d at 248, there is no amendment that
can save this Complaint. Thus, this dismissal is without leave to amend.
For the reasons stated above, the court DISMISSES the Complaint
with prejudice. The Clerk of Court is directed to close the case file.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: Honolulu, Hawai‘i, June 13, 2013.
/s/ Derrick K. Watson
Derrick K. Watson
United States District Judge
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Herbert L. Moniz, et al. v. State of Hawaii, et al.; CV. 13-00086 DKW BMK;
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH PREJUDICE
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