Lane-Bey v. Lane T98017 et al
Judge Richard G. Stearns: ORDER entered. MEMORANDUM AND ORDERthe complaint is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) as frivolous and failing to state a claim for which relief may be granted. The clerk shall enter a separate order of dismissal.(PSSA, 4)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS
CIVIL ACTION NO. 23-12391-RGS
ALFRED DARNELL LANE T98017; MAURA T. HEALEY; SHAWN P.
JENKINS; DEAN GRAY; and TOCCI M. THOMAS,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
November 15, 2023
On October 16, 2023, Alfred Lane-Bey (“Lane-Bey”), an inmate in
custody at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center (“SBCC”), filed a pro
se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He did not pay the filing fee nor
seek leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee. For the reasons
set forth below, the court summarily dismisses the complaint pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) because the allegations are frivolous and fail to state a
claim for which relief may be granted.
The case is before the court for screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
Under that statute, the court must conduct an initial review of a “complaint
in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity
or officer or employee of a governmental entity.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The
court must “dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint,” if it is
frivolous, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or “seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C.
Plaintiff’s pro se complaint is entitled to a liberal construction. See
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-521 (1972); accord Ahmed v.
Rosenblatt, 118 F.3d 886, 890 (1st 1997). “However, pro se status does not
insulate a party from complying with procedural and substantive law.”
Ahmed, 118 F.3d at 890. Like other plaintiffs, “even a pro se plaintiff is
required ‘to set forth factual allegations, either direct or inferential,
respecting each material element necessary to sustain recovery under some
actionable legal theory.’” Adams v. Stephenson, 116 F.3d 464 (1st Cir. 1997)
(unpublished table decision) (quoting Gooley v. Mobil Oil Corp., 851 F.2d
513, 515 (1st Cir. 1988)).
Plaintiff indicates that he is an “Indigenous Moor/Moorish American.”
Doc. No. 1 at ¶ 3. Named as defendants are the Governor of Massachusetts,
the Chief of Staff for the Department of Correction, the SBCC
Superintendent, and an SBCC correctional officer. Id. at ¶¶ 5 – 8. Plaintiff
also names himself as a defendant by using a name that he contends is “a
fictitious entity” that he contends was “created to obtain jurisdiction over this
moor/moorish American plaintiff.”
Id. at ¶
Plaintiff’s claims are
premised on his purported Moorish citizenship. Throughout the complaint,
Lane-Bey repeatedly refers to himself as “in propria persona” and “sui juris.”
Id. at ¶¶ 1, 2, 21.
The complaint consists primarily of background information
explaining what Lane-Bey describes as the “status,” “indigenous status,” and
“origin” of Moorish Americans. Id. at ¶¶ 10 – 14.
In a section of the
complaint labeled “Legal Claims,” Lane-Bey asserts that labeling him “Black”
violates Article I, Sections 9 and 10 of the Constitution, the Thirteenth
Amendment, and ex post facto laws. Id. at ¶ 14. He asks for declaratory
relief, an injunction prohibiting the application of DOC policies to the
“moorish plaintiff,” and compensatory and punitive damages. Id. at ¶ 22.
A search of the federal Judiciary's Public Access to Court Electronic
Records (PACER) service reveals that while an inmate in custody of the
Virginia Department of Corrections, Lane-Bey filed an almost identical
action. See Lane-Bey v. Lane, et al., No. 22-00656-EKD, 2023 WL 3230483
(W.D. Va. May 3, 2023) (dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1)). At
that time, Lane-Bey was advised that his status as a Moorish American or as
a sovereign citizen does not mean that his judgment of conviction was invalid
or that he is being unlawfully imprisoned. Id. at * 3.
Arguments based on a litigant’s purported “moorish” or “sovereign
citizen” status have consistently been rejected by federal courts as frivolous.
See e.g. U.S. Bank N.A. v. Janelle, No. 20-00337-JAW, 2021 WL 4847901,
at *7-8 (D. Me. Oct. 18, 2021) (describing the various hallmarks of sovereign
citizen pseudo-litigation and decrying the “widespread practice of pro se
litigants submitting court filings that are nothing more than a collection of
legal-sounding but false rules that purport to be law” (cleaned up)); Libertad
v. Massachusetts, No. 21-03888-SDG, 2022 WL 1136727, at *2 (N.D. Ga.
Apr. 18, 2022) (“Dismissal of this action is appropriate and warranted based
on its legal insufficiency and the frivolity inherent in all sovereign citizen
legal theories—such sovereign citizen claptrap has been rejected over and
over.” (cleaned up)); Maryland v. Ghazi-El, CR RDB-16-0207, 2016 WL
2736183, at *2 (D. Md. May 11, 2016) (“Neither the citizenship nor the
heritage of a defendant constitutes a key ingredient to a court’s jurisdiction
in criminal prosecutions. Contrary to Defendant’s assertions, his purported
status as a Moorish–American citizen does not enable him to violate state
laws without consequence. Therefore, the argument that a person is entitled
to ignore . . . [state laws] . . . by claiming membership in the Moorish–
American nation is without merit.”) (citations, punctuation and quotations
Reading Lane-Bey’s complaint generously, it is clear that it fails to
meet the minimal screening requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). In light
of the nature of plaintiff's claims, the court finds that amendment would be
futile. Garayalde-Rijos v. Municipality of Carolina, 747 F.3d 15, 23 (1st Cir.
2014) (explaining that sua sponte dismissal is appropriate only when it is
crystal clear that the plaintiff cannot prevail and that amending the
complaint would be futile).
Accordingly, for the reasons stated herein, the complaint is
DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) as frivolous and failing to
state a claim for which relief may be granted. The clerk shall enter a separate
order of dismissal.
/s/ Richard G. Stearns
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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