Pacheco v. Commonwealth of Masachusetts et al
Judge Allison D. Burroughs: ORDER entered. This action is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. (PSSA, 3)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS
MASSACHUSETTS, et al.,
C.A. No. 17-10637-ADB
For the reasons set forth below, the Court dismisses this action without prejudice.
On April 19, 2017, Kevin Pacheco, who resides in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, filed
a pro se complaint and request for an injunction to halt state criminal proceedings against him in
Massachusetts and Rhode Island. He names as defendants the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
the state of Rhode Island, and the Attorney General of each state. According to Pacheco, he is
being denied his federal rights to a fair and speedy trial, his rights under the Sixth Amendment,
the right to represent himself, and his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In
regards to the latter, he represents that he suffers from agoraphobia, and that the defendants’
failure to accommodate his disability affects his ability to represent himself.
In his prayer for relief, Pacheco asks that the Court issue an injunction before April 26,
2017 to stop the state criminal proceedings. He also asks that this Court dismiss the state court
proceedings and award compensatory damages for the mental anguish he has endured. Pacheco
asks that, if the state court criminal proceedings against him are not dismissed, that they go
forward in federal court.
Pacheco paid the filing fee and summonses have issued.
Federal courts “have an affirmative obligation to examine jurisdictional concerns on their
own initiative.” Irving v. United States, 162 F.3d 154, 160 (1st Cir. 1998). Upon considering the
issue, the Court will abstain from exercising jurisdiction over this action and will dismiss this
“[F]ederal courts have long recognized ‘the fundamental policy against federal
interference with state criminal proceedings.’” In re Justices of Superior Ct. Dep’t of Mass.
Trial Ct., 218 F.3d 11, 16 (1st Cir. 2000) (quoting Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 46 (1971)).
Congress has long expressed its policy that “the state courts be allowed to conduct state
proceedings free from interference by the federal courts.” Id. at 16. This policy against “federal
interference with state judicial proceedings is premised on ‘a proper respect for state functions, a
recognition of the fact that the entire country is made up of a Union of separate state
governments, and a continuance of the belief that the National Government will fare best if the
States and their institutions are left free to perform their separate functions in their separate
ways.’” Id. (quoting Younger, 401 U.S. at 44). Under the principles of Younger abstention, “a
federal court must abstain from hearing a case if doing so would ‘needlessly inject’ the federal
court into ongoing state proceedings.” Coggeshall v. Mass. Bd. of Registration of Psychologists,
604 F.3d 658, 664 (1st Cir. 2010) (quoting Brooks v. N.H. Supreme Ct., 80 F.3d 633, 637 (1st
Here, it would violate the principles of comity between federal and state proceedings for
this Court to adjudicate claims that Massachusetts and Rhode Island are violating Pacheco’s
federal rights in regards to the state criminal prosecutions against him. Pacheco may raise his
objections in the state trial court and, if necessary, on appeal. There is no need for this Court to
“needlessly inject” itself in this matter.
Moreover, there is no basis for this Court to exercise removal jurisdiction over the state
criminal proceeding. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1443, the following classes of prosecutions may be
removed by the defendant to federal court: (1) a prosecution “[a]gainst any person who is denied
or cannot enforce” in state court “a right under any law providing for the equal civil rights of
citizens of the United States, or of all persons within the jurisdiction thereof”; and (2) a
prosecution “[f]or any act under color of authority derived from any law providing for equal
rights, or for refusing to do any act on the ground that it would be inconsistent with such law.”
28 U.S.C. § 1443(1)-(2). The criminal proceedings against Pacheco do not fall into either
category. His allegations do not provide the Court any basis to believe that he cannot enforce his
federal rights in a state forum. See City of Greenwood v. Peacock, 384 U.S. 808, 828 (1966)
(prosecutions removable under § 1443(1) only in “the rare situations where it can be clearly
predicted by reason of the operation of a pervasive and explicitly state or federal law that those
rights will inevitably be denied by the very act of bringing the defendant to trial in the state
court”). Further, Pacheco cannot avail himself of § 1443(2) because his is not being prosecuted
for an “act under color of authority.”
This action is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
None of the defendants are required to respond to the complaint. If Pacheco has
not completed service of the summonses upon the defendants, he shall neither do so nor
otherwise represent to the defendants that they must respond to the complaint.
The Clerk shall provide a copy of this order to the Attorney Generals of
Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
April 20, 2017
/s/ Allison D. Burroughs
ALLISON D. BURROUGHS
U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
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