Brown v. State of Indiana The et al
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING 2 MOTION for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis filed by Craig F Brown; Case is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)., ***Civil Case Terminated. Signed by Chief Judge Philip P Simon on 3/13/14. (mlc)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
HAMMOND DIVISION AT LAFAYETTE
CRAIG F. BROWN,
STATE OF INDIANA, et al.,
Civil Action No. 4:14 CV 7
OPINION AND ORDER
Craig F. Brown, a pro se plaintiff, filed an in forma pauperis petition [DE 2] and a complaint
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [DE 1]. Brown has also filed an amended complaint [DE 4]. Brown
brings this case against all Indiana state court judges, the state of Indiana, and “[a]ll Indiana
Courthouses and Individual Courts therein” [DE 1 at 2]. Essentially, Brown is challenging Indiana’s
Title IV-D program and the Indiana courts’ administration of child support and custody cases. He
alleges that any court ordering a parent to be “non-custodial” is a “forced absence” that should thus
exempt the parent from payment of child support [DE 1 at 2-3]; that such orders are “state
sanctioned kidnapping [DE 1 at 3]; and that judges who order “a parent to become absent” commit
fraud [DE 1 at 4]. In addition to seeking “judicial notice” of the above, Brown requests that every
Indiana judge be ordered to cease and desist from ordering parents to be “non-custodial” and instead,
that joint custody be available to any parent who so wishes [DE 1 at 4-5]; that all parents
incarcerated for back payment of child support be immediately released from jail [DE 1 at 5]; that
all non-custodial parents be reimbursed all child support dollars paid and all back child support
balances be zeroed [Id.]; that formerly non-custodial parents be given full custody for the period of
time for which they were not permitted custody of their children [Id.]; reimbursement for all court-
ordered classes and supervised visits [DE 1 at 6]; repayment by the State of Indiana of “everything
they have defrauded out of the American Citizen’s Social Security Pension retroactive to 1974 by
‘Ordering a Parent to become absent” [Id.]; payment to all incarcerated parents at the rate of $1,000
per minute of incarceration, and the same to all parents for every minute they were deprived of
custody of their children [Id.]; and finally, for Brown himself to be placed at the front of any waiting
lines for collection of these payments [Id.].
“A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however
inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quotation marks and citations omitted).
Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been
paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . (B)
the action . . . (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief
may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune
from such relief.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
In addition to his complaint, Brown has filed an amended complaint, which contains wholly
new allegations that are specific to his case: he names the same defendants, but indicates that after
the filing of his complaint, he “became aware of the term ‘Substantive Due Process’” and wished
to include such a claim as “further argument” [DE 4 at 2]. The amendment claims that Tippecanoe
County Superior Court 5 Judge Les Meade “FABRICATED AND TRUMPED UP CHARGES
AGAINST Plaintiff . . . violated his own orders,” “ILLEGALLY CONDUCTED HIS OWN
INVESTIGATION,” “applied THREE INAPPLICABLE CASE LAWS,” and sentenced Brown to
thirty days in jail for the “CRIME” of taking his daughter out of the state without prior approval [DE
4 at 2]. Without making specific allegations regarding their actions, Brown also names Judges
“Katz” and “Busch” as having some dealings with him [DE 4 at 4]. He requests that Busch and
Meade be impeached and “also do JAIL TIME” [DE 4 at 7].
In this case, Brown’s complaint must be dismissed. A judge is entitled to absolute immunity
for judicial acts regarding matters within the court’s jurisdiction, even if the judge’s “exercise of
authority is flawed by the commission of grave procedural errors.” Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S.
349, 359 (1978). When these Indiana judges issued rulings regarding child support, custody, or other
related matters, they were acting on matters within the jurisdiction of their courts. Therefore they
are immune from suit and must be dismissed. To the extent that “Indiana courthouses and courts
therein” are separate and distinct from the judges themselves, they are buildings and cannot be sued,
so any action against them is frivolous. Similarly, the State of Indiana is an improper entity, as
states are generally immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment – including claims for
monetary relief for payments already made, declaratory relief, and injunctive relief. Darne v. State
of Wis. Dep’t. Of Rev., 137 F.3d 484, 487-88 (7th Cir. 1998).
Moreover, given that it is impossible that all of the judges of Indiana could have issued
rulings against Brown, and to the extent that his allegations raise the claims of other parents who
have been deprived of custody of their children or ordered to pay child support, he is barred from
bringing a class action as a pro se plaintiff. Huddleson v. Duckworth, 137 F.R.D. 484, 487-88 (7th
For the foregoing reasons, the in forma pauperis petition is denied and this case is
DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
ENTERED: March 13, 2014
s/ Philip P. Simon
PHILIP P. SIMON, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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