Blakeny et al v. Isaacs et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER: 1. Plaintiff Christian's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis 2 is GRANTED. 2. The plaintiffs' claims are DISMISSED. 3. This action is DISMISSED and STRICKEN from the Court's docket. 4. A separate Judgment will issue this date. Signed by Judge Danny C. Reeves on 1/6/2017. (STC)cc: Plts
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
EVAN BLAKENY and LUCINDA
PAUL F. ISAACS, in his Individual and
Civil Action No. 5: 17-006-DCR
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Proceeding without counsel, Plaintiffs Evan Blakeny and Lucinda Christian filed a
Complaint against Paul F. Isaacs, Judge of the Circuit Court of Scott County, Kentucky. The
suit is filed against Judge Isaacs in his individual and official capacities. [Record No. 1] The
plaintiffs assert federal claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as various provisions of state
law. More specifically, Blakeny and Christian allege that Isaacs violated their rights while he
presided over a legal proceeding relating to the foreclosure of a residence. Christian also has
moved to proceed in forma pauperis and has provided an affidavit, asserting that she lacks
sufficient funds to pay the filing fee. [Record No. 2] For the reasons that follow, the Complaint
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and will be summarily dismissed. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (stating that courts may, sua sponte, dismiss a frivolous in forma
As an initial matter, this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction regarding the claims
asserted. Under the Rooker-Felder doctrine, “federal courts lack jurisdiction to review a case
litigated and decided in state court as only the United States Supreme Court has jurisdiction to
correct state court judgments.” Marshall v. Bowles, 92 Fed. Appx. 283, 284 (6th Cir. 2004)
(citing District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482 (1983); Rooker
v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 415-16 (1923)). The plaintiff in Marshall pursued an
action against a state domestic relations judge, asserting claims related to a proceeding over
which he presided. Id. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the judge violated her due process
rights through various orders and rulings during the proceeding. Id. The Sixth Circuit held
that “[a] fair reading of the complaint reveals that [the plaintiff’s] federal case is an
impermissible appeal of state court judgments as it raises specific grievances regarding
decisions of” the state court. Id. The Sixth Circuit concluded that the district court lacked
subject matter jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine because the complaint was
effectively a challenge of the state court’s actions.
Here, the plaintiffs’ Complaint is, in essence, an impermissible appeal of the state
court’s judgment. The claims pertain solely to Judge Isaacs’ rulings while presiding over the
plaintiffs’ case. By challenging these actions, the plaintiffs are asking this Court to evaluate
the validity of the state court’s determinations and ultimate judgment. Moreover, the primary
requested relief in this case is an equitable judgment “ordering and prohibiting enforcement of
any orders or judgment entered during the proceedings.” [Record No. 1, p. 15] Asking this
Court to essentially declare a state court judgment invalid and unenforceable functions as a
challenge to that court’s judgment. Accordingly, it is an improper appeal and this Court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction.
Assuming that this Court could exercise jurisdiction in this case, the claims would be
dismissed as frivolous. As a general rule, a judicial officer performing his judicial functions
is absolutely immune from a suit seeking monetary damages. Mann v. Conlin, 22 F.3d 100,
103 (6th Cir. 1994). The plaintiffs attempt to avoid this immunity by seeking injunctive relief
rather than monetary damages. The Supreme Court has stated that “judicial immunity is not a
bar to prospective injunctive relief against a judicial officer acting in her judicial capacity.”
Pulliam v. Allen, 466 U.S. 522, 542 (1984). However, in matters brought against judicial
officer for actions taken in their judicial capacity, “injunctive relief shall not be granted unless
a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable.” 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In
this case, the plaintiffs have failed to allege that a declaratory decree was violated or that
declaratory relief was unavailable. Accordingly, they have failed to state a claim for injunctive
relief under § 1983.
The plaintiffs also seek attorney’s fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988 and 28 U.S.C. § 2412.
However, under § 1988, “in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission
taken in such officer’s judicial capacity such officer shall not be held liable for costs, including
attorney’s fees, unless such action was clearly in excess of such officer’s jurisdiction.” 42
U.S.C. § 1988. The plaintiffs have not alleged that Judge Isaacs acted in excess of his
jurisdiction. Additionally, 28 U.S.C. § 2412 applies to actions against the United States or any
agency or official of the United States and is not applicable in this case.1 Accordingly, the
plaintiffs’ claim for attorney’s fees is equally lacking in merit.
Based on the foregoing, it is hereby
ORDERED as follows:
Plaintiff Christian’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Record No.
2] is GRANTED.
The plaintiffs’ claims are DISMISSED.
This action is DISMISSED and STRICKEN from the Court’s docket.
A separate Judgment will issue this date.
This 6th day of January, 2017.
The Court also notes that the plaintiffs are not entitled to seek attorney’s fees which have not
been incurred. The plaintiffs are proceeding pro se and are not represented by counsel in this civil
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