Moment v. Danai
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Paul W. Grimm on 2/15/2017. (kns, Deputy Clerk)(c/m 2/15/17)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
MICHAEL MOMENT, #1602335,
Civil Action No. PWG-16-3976
Pending are Plaintiff Michael Moment's Complaint, ECF No. I, and Motion to Proceed
In Forma Pauperis, ECF NO.2.
I will grant the latter for the purpose of preliminary screening
but will deny the Complaint.
Moment claims Saman Danai, who is an Assistant State's Attorney in Prince George's
County, prosecuted him for a "fictitious" probation violation in violation of his right to due
process and equal protection of the law. ECF No. I. As relief, Moment requests a hearing and
damages of $5 millio~.
The Maryland State Judiciary electronic docket shows that on August 8, 20 II, Moment
was found guilty of intimidating or corrupting an officer of the court and threatening a state
official, Docket No. 126, State v. Moment, Criminal Case No. 117643C (Cir. Ct. Montgomery
Cty. Aug. 8, 2011), and was later sentenced to a term of incarceration followed by supervised
probation, id. Docket No. 145. On August 2, 2016, the Honorable Dwight D. Jackson found
Moment in violation of the terms of his probation. Id. Docket No. 278. The sentencing hearing
is presently scheduled to take place on February 13,2017. Id. Docket No. 303.1
As Moment is proceeding as an indigent, the Court is required to screen his complaints
and dismiss claims which are frivolous, malicious, or fail to state a claim on which relief may be
granted, or which seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28
19l5(e)(2); 1915A(b); see also Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989) (noting
claims which fail to state a claim may be dismissed sua sponte). This case will be dismissed
under this standard.
The Complaint is deficient for several reasons. First, Moment provides no facts or other
explanation in support of his conclusory assertion that Danai prosecuted him on a "fictitious"
charge. Second, Denai, a prosecutor, is entitled to immunity for the performance of prosecutorial
functions. See Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 430 (1976).
Prosecutors receive absolute
immunity because they must be able to perform certain official duties without the constant fear
of lawsuits. Id. at 420-21 (citing Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547,554-55
prosecutorial functions are those that are "intimately associated with the judicial phase of the
criminal process." Imbler, 424 U.S. at 430. Thus, when a prosecutor is working "within the
scope of his duties in initiating and pursuing a criminal prosecution," he or she remains within
the ambit of absolute immunity. Id. at 410. Immunity is conferred on prosecutors from charges
of malicious prosecution, because it is essential to the legal"process that they be able to exercise
indeRendence anj without fear of consequences. Id. at 421; see also Briscoe
v. LaHue, 460 U.S. 325, 334 (1983) ("[Iln light of common-law immunity principles,
I Moment also filed a Complaint against Renee Mortel, an assistant states' attorney who
prosecuted him in the 2011 case. See Moment v. Morlel, Civil Action No. PWG-16-3966. (D.
d[oes] not impose liability" on "judges, prosecutors, and other persons acting under 'color of
law' who perform official functions in the judicial process.").
Although Moment captions the Complaint as a proceeding under 42 U.S.C.
1983, it is
essentially an attempt to appeal a state conviction in federal court, from which this Court must
abstain. See Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 415-16 (1923); District of Columbia
Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462,482-86
(1983). The Rooker-Feldman
doctrine is a
rule that prohibits a federal district court from hearing "cases brought by state-
court losers complaining of injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district
and inviting district court review and rejection of those
judgments." Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005). In other
words, the doctrine precludes claims that seek redress for an injury caused by a state-court
decision, because such a claim essentially asks "the federal district court to conduct an appellate
review of the state-court decision." Adkins v. Rumsfeld, 464 F.3d 456, 464 (4th Cir. 2006)
(quoting Davani v. Va. Dep't of Transp. 434 F.3d 712, 719 (4th Cir. 2006».
Moment may not
appeal his 2011 state criminal conviction or 2016 violation of probation in this Court.
The in forma pauperis statute at 28 U.S.c.
bring a civil action -without complcteprepayment
19'15(g) provides that a prisoner
of the' appropriate filing fee if the prisoner has
brought, on three or more occasions, an action or appeal in a federal court that was dismissed as
frivolous, as malicious, or for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, unless
At the time he filed the Complaint, Moment was housed at the -MontgomeryCounty Detention
Center at 1307 Seven Locks Road-in-Rockville, Maryland. ECF No. I. Moment has since
provided the Court with a different address in Laurel, Maryland. ECF NO.4. It is unclear whether
for mailing purposes only or if he remains at the Montgomery County
Detention Center. When a defendant is released on his own recognizance prior to sentencing, he
still is "in custody' because he [is] subject to restraints not shared by the public generally."
Wilson v. Flaherty, 689 F.3d 332,336 (4th Cir. 2012) (quoting Hensley v. Mun. Court, 411 U.S.
345, 351 (1973) (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted».
the prisoner is in imminent danger of serious physical injury. As Moment was incarcerated at
the time he'initiated this Complaint and for the. reasons' stated above: the Complaint fails to state
a claim upon which relief maybe
I assigned Moment a first "strike" pursuant to 28
1915(g) in Moment v. M~rtel, Civil Actioil No. PWG-16-3966. (D. Md.), and will
assign him a second "strike" in this case ...
For these reasons, Iwill dismiss this case with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted and assign Moment a second "st Ike" by separate order to follow.
Paul . Grimm
United States District Judge.
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