Moseley v. Winston, et al.
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge James K. Bredar on 1/25/2017. (c/m 1/26/17 jnls, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
Civil Action No. JKB-17-114
MARTIN McGUIRE, ESQ.,
JUDGE JEFFREY GELLER,
Plaintiff Steven Moseley, a resident of Houston, Texas, filed the above-entitled complaint
with a motion to proceed in forma pauperis on January 13, 2017. Because he appears to be
indigent, Moseley’s motion shall be granted. For the reasons below, the complaint must be
Moseley asserts he is entitled to mandamus relief because the Honorable Jeffrey Geller of
the Baltimore City Circuit Court ignored Maryland procedural rules and violated his rights in
connection with a child support action prosecuted by Special Counsel Martin McGuire, Esq. on
behalf of Adrienne Winston, the mother of Moseley’s child. ECF 1. As relief, Moseley seeks an
emergency preliminary injunction against the enforcement and collection of child support issued
in Adrienne Winston v. Steven Mosley, Case No. 24P12002814 (Cir. Ct. Balto. City).1 ECF 1 at
Moseley filed his complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), which permits an indigent
litigant to commence an action in this court without prepaying the filing fee. To guard against
possible abuses of this privilege, the statute requires dismissal of any claim that is frivolous or
malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)
and (ii). This court is mindful, however, of its obligation to liberally construe self-represented
pleadings, such as Moseley’s complaint. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In
evaluating such a complaint, the factual allegations are assumed to be true. Id. at 93 (citing Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555–56 (2007)). Nonetheless, liberal construction
does not mean that a district court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which
set forth a cognizable claim. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990); see
also Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985) (stating a district court
may not “conjure up questions never squarely presented.”). In making this determination, A[t]he
district court need not look beyond the complaint's allegations . . . .
It must hold the pro se
complaint to less stringent standards than pleadings drafted by attorneys and must read the
complaint liberally.@ White v. White, 886 F. 2d 721, 722-723 (4th Cir. 1989).
Even affording Moseley’s claims the most liberal construction, the complaint fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted. First, this court does not have original subjectmatter jurisdiction over matters concerning child support. See Raftery v. Scott, 756 F.2d 335,
343 (4th Cir. 1985) (domestic relations exception to federal courts’ jurisdiction based on idea
that state has a stronger, more direct interest). Further, this court cannot review a child support
case even where the moving party establishes diversity jurisdiction.
See Wasserman v.
Wasserman, 671 F.2d 832 (4th Cir. 1982) (diversity jurisdiction does not include power to grant
divorces, determine alimony or support obligations, or decide child custody rights).
Second, the relief sought in this case is in the nature of mandamus relief against a
Maryland state judge and prosecutor. This court does not have jurisdiction over state employees
in an action for writ of mandamus. Gurley v. Superior Court of Mecklenburg County, 411 F.2d
586, 587 (4th Cir. 1969), see also 28 U.S.C. '1361 (establishing federal court mandamus
jurisdiction over officer or employees of the United States).
Finally, Moseley’s primary allegation is that he was improperly served in connection
with the child support matter. He moved in state court to dismiss the enforcement petition based
on improper service, and did not prevail. The matter was concluded on November 29, 2014, and
Moseley did not appeal. That appellate review, however, is not now available in this court.
AUnder the Rooker-Feldman2 [abstention] doctrine, a >party losing in state court is barred from
seeking what in substance would be appellate review of the state judgment in a United States
district court.=@ American Reliable Insurance v. Stillwell, 336 F. 3d 311, 316 (4th Cir. 2003)
quoting Johnson v. De Grandy, 512 U.S. 997, 1005-06 (1994). The Rooker-Feldman doctrine is
jurisdictional and, as such, this court is free to raise it sua sponte. See Jordahl v. Democratic
Party of Va., 122 F.3d 192, 197 n.5 (4th Cir.1997).
Accordingly, the case shall be dismissed by separate order which follows.
Date: January 25, 2017
James K. Bredar
United States District Judge
District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482, (1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263
U.S. 413, 416 (1923).
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