Bourdelais v. Hill et al
MEMORANDUM ORDER DISMISSING 8 Michelle Bourdelais's Amended Notice of Removal, construed as a Complaint, and DISMISSING AS MOOT 3 Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis; 6 Motion to Shorten Time; 11 Motion to File Electronically; 12 Motion for Clarification and 16 Motion to Include Supplemental Exhibits. Signed by Judge Theodore D. Chuang on 5/16/2016. (kns, Deputy Clerk)(c/m as directed 5/17/16)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY 7th
JUDGE LAWRENCE HILL, JR., Alleged
"Specially Assigned" Judge St. Mary's County
Circuit Court Md,
JOHN ROBERT DURNIAK,
JOE CARMEN CAPRISTO,
LONG & FOSTERS OF VIRGINIA and
Civil Action No. TDC-16-0754
On March 15,2016, Plaintiff Michelle Bourdelais filed a Notice of Removal along with a
Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis.
Amended Notice of Removal.
On March 29, 2016, Bourdelais filed an
Bourdelais asserts that she has removed various state court
proceedings relating to Judge Lawrence V. Hill, Jr. of the Circuit Court for Prince George's
County, Maryland to this Court pursuant to a variety of statutes, including 18 U.S.C. ~ 1346, 28
U.S.C. ~~ 1441, 1443, 1446, and 42 U.S.c. ~~ 1983, 1985, 1986. In addition, presently pending
before the Court are Bourdelais's Motion to Shorten Time on Signing Summons, Motion to File
Bourdelais has now paid the filing fee, thus rendering the pending Motion for Leave to Proceed
in Forma Pauperis moot. For the reasons set forth below, the Court dismisses the case for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction.
As a preliminary
matter, although Bourdelais filed a document entitled "Notice of
Removal," any such removal would be improper. Bourdelais has not filed the pleadings from the
state court proceedings that she seeks to remove to this court. See 28 U.S.C. ~ 1446(a) (requiring
filing with the notice of removal of "a copy of all process, pleadings, and orders served upon
such defendant or defendants in such action").
The only references to state court proceedings
contained in her Amended Notice of Removal appear in certain attachments, which refer to two
different cases: Bourdelais v. Durniak, No. 18-C-13-000260 (St. Mary's Cty. Cir. Ct. Feb. 22,
2013) and Bourdelais v. Durniak, No. C-02-FM-15-00480.1
In addition, according to the
Maryland Judiciary Case Search website, Bourdelais has sued Defendant John Durniak in three
state court cases:
Bourdelais v. Durniak, No. 6Q00061599 (St. Mary's Cty. Dist. Ct. Feb. 5,
2016); Bourdelais v. Durniak, No. C-02-FM-16-000411
(Anne Arundel Cty. Cir. Ct. Feb. 4,
2016); and Bourdelais v. Durniak, No. 18-C-13-000260 (St. Mary's Cty. Cir. Ct. Feb. 22, 2013).
None of the state court electronic records indicate that any of these cases have
Finally, the fact that Bourdelais is a plaintiff in each of the cases she
references in her Amended Notice of Removal indicates that removal of any of these cases
would be improper, as only a defendant may remove an action brought in state court. See 28
U.S.C. ~ 1441(a); 28 U.S.C. ~ 1443. Therefore, the Court construes the Amended Notice of
Removal as a new complaint.
According to the Maryland Judiciary Case Search website, of which this Court takes judicial
notice pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 201, Bourdelais, No. 18-C-13-000260, was
transferred from the Circuit Court for Saint Mary's County to the Circuit Court for Prince
George's County (Hill, J.) on December 17, 2015. See Maryland Judiciary Case Search, Md.
does not appear in Maryland Judiciary Case Search.
Regardless of whether Bourdelais's Amended Notice of Removal is construed as an
improper removal of a state court proceeding or a new federal court complaint, this Court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine
bars federal courts from reviewing state court judgments. Washington v. Wilmore, 407 F.3d 274,
279 (4th Cir. 2005). "[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, based on the
losing party's claim that the state judgment itself violates the loser's federal rights." Johnson v.
De Grandy, 512 U.S. 997,1005-06 (1994). If applicable, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine prevents
the Court from exercising subject matter jurisdiction. See Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic
Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 292 (2005). The Rooker-Feldman
doctrine bars consideration of
"not only issues raised and decided in the state courts, but also issues that are inextr),cably
intertwined with the issues that were before the state court" when "success on the federal claim
depends upon a determination that the state court wrongly decided the issues before it."
Washington, 407 F.3d at 279 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
In reviewing the Amended Notice of Rell?-0val,it is apparent that Bourdelais is
challenging decisions of the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Maryland involving
custody and visitation proceedings and is seeking to have this court intervene in such matters.
Throughout, she disputes the Circuit Court's legal conclusions, orders, and decisions to hold
hearings. The relief Bourdelais seeks is "an injunction to prevent the Prince George's County
Circuit Court from proceeding further." Pl.'s Am. Notice Removal at 10. Tellingly, Bourdelais
asserts: "This matter is filed in Federal Court after all other remedy has been exhausted .... "
Id at 4. The federal courts, however, do not serve as a venue to which to appeal adverse state
court decisions. See Johnson, 512 U.S. at 1005-06.
Finally, to the extent that Bourdelais asserts any arguably new federal claims, they are
inextricably intertwined with the issues in her state court proceedings. See Washington, 407 F.3d
at 279. Without explicitly setting forth facts in support of a federal cause of action, Bourdelais's
Notice of Removal cites various federal statutes, see 42 U.S.C.
(postal matters); 28 U.S.C.
1981-86; 28 U.S.C.
1343 (civil rights and elective franchise), as bases for challenging
the "prejudice and misconduct of the [Maryland] courts." Pl.'s Am. Notice Removal at 10. As
described in Bourdelais's Amended Notice of Removal, however, such prejudice and misconduct
arise from the legal conclusions and orders of the Circuit Court, such as its denial of Bourdelais's
Motion to Quash, its issuance of a "supervised visitation order," its denial of Bourdelais's
Motion to Stay Pending the Appeal, and its "sua sponte action compelling the Plaintiff to be in
court on the 15th day of April." Id. at 2-3, 10. Any federal claim would therefore require this
Court to review the state court's decisions.
cannot invoke 42 U.S.C.
Under the Rooker-Feldman
1983 or other federal statutes in order to require this Court to revisit
and second-guess these orders issued by the Circuit Court?
Therefore, her Amended Notice of
Removal must be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
The Court notes that even if the Rooker-Feldman doctrine did not bar Bourdelais's claims, any
claims against Judge Hill would be barred by absolute judicial immunity. A state judge is
absolutely immune from 9 1983 liability except when the judge acts 'in the clear absence of all
jurisdiction." Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356-57 (1978) (articulating a broad immunity
rule that 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 authority .... ").
Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that:
Amended Notice of Removal, ECF NO.8,
construed as a complaint, is
Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis, ECF No.3,
Shorten Time, ECF No.6,
Motion to File Electronically,
ECF No. 11, Motion for
Clarification, ECF No. 12, and Motion to Include Supplemental Exhibits, ECF No. 16,
are DISMISSED AS MOOT.
3. The Clerk is directed to mail a copy of this Order to Bourdelais; the Clerk of the Circuit
Court for Prince George's
County, Maryland at 14735 Main St., Upper Marlboro,
Maryland 20772; Joseph R. Laumann, Esquire at 1160 Spa Road, Suite 3C, Annapolis,
Maryland; Joseph C. Capristo, Esquire at 23093 Three Notch Road, California, Maryland
20619; and Edmund O'Meally, Esquire at Pessin Katz Law, P.A., 901 Dulaney Valley
Road, Suite 400, Towson, Maryland.
Date: May 16, 2016
United States District Judge
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