Hare v. Nichols

Filing 4

MEMORANDUM. Signed by Judge George Jarrod Hazel on 11/7/2016. (c/m 11/07/2016 jf3s, Deputy Clerk)

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P". COUR1 '• IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT ai3 FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND A 11: 0 2 DELEON L. HARE, SR., Plaintiff Civil Action No. GJH-16-3321 PHILIP C. NICHOLS, Defendant *** MEMORANDUM Plaintiff Delfon L. Hare, Sr. filed a self-represented civil rights complaint on October 3, 2016. ECF I. Plaintiff has also filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (ECF 2) which shall be granted. Plaintiff complains that the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Maryland dismissed his civil complaints challenging the entry of a guilty finding in absentia in a criminal proceeding. ECF 1. Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief reversing the dismissal of his state civil cases. Id., p. 3. This Court is obliged by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) to screen prisoner complaints and dismiss any complaint that is frivolous, malicious or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. In deciding whether a complaint is frivolous, "Nile district court need not look beyond the complaint's allegations . . . . It must, however, hold the pro se complaint to less stringent standards than pleadings drafted by attorneys and must read the complaint liberally." See White v. White, 886 F.2d 721, 722-23 (4th Cir. 1989). "Under the Rooker-Feldman' [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 Ins. 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. Jordahl v. Democratic Party of Va., 122 F.3d 192, 197 n.5 (4th Cir. 1997). "[T]he Rooker-Feldman doctrine . . . . by elevating substance over form, preserves the independence of state courts as well as congressional intent that an appeal from a state court decision must proceed through that state's system of appellate review rather than inferior federal courts." American Reliable Ins., 336 F.3d at 391. In light of the foregoing, Plaintiffs complaint shall be dismissed without prejudice. If Plaintiff believes his constitutional rights were violated in his underlying criminal proceedings, he is free to file the appropriate complaint raising those allegations. This Court, however, must refrain from reviewing the state court's determinations as to Plaintiffs civil claims. A separate Order follows. GEORGE J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE Dist. of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482 (1983); Rooker v. Fid. Tr. Co., 263 U.S. 413, 416 (1923).

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