Kapacs v. State of Minnesota et al
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (Written Opinion). Signed by Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright on 11/20/2017. (TJB)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Case No. 17-cv-3615 (WMW/HB)
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND
State of Minnesota and Minnesota Board
on Judicial Standards,
This matter is before the Court on the August 22, 2017 Report and
Recommendation (R&R) of United States Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer. (Dkt. 18.)
The Court granted Plaintiff Margots Kapacs’s request for an extension of time to object
to the R&R, and Kapacs thereafter filed timely objections.
On October 3, 2017, approximately three weeks after filing his objections to the
R&R, Kapacs filed a motion for leave to amend his complaint. Because Kapacs has not
yet served his original complaint on Defendants, he is permitted to amend his complaint
as a matter of course and need not first obtain the Court’s leave. See Fed. R. Civ.
P. 15(a)(1). Thus, the Court construes Kapacs’s amended complaint as the operative
complaint. In his amended complaint, Kapacs does not add or remove defendants or
legal claims or otherwise alter the nature of the relief he seeks. Rather, the amended
complaint includes approximately six additional paragraphs in which Kapacs provides
additional details in support of his claims. These additional details involve allegations
that the Minnesota state court judge who presided over Kapacs’s marriage dissolution
proceedings treated him unfairly during the course of those proceedings and altered court
records, and that Kapacs’s complaints to Defendant Minnesota Board on Judicial
Standards (Board) have been ignored. In light of the limited nature of the differences
between Kapacs’s original complaint and his amended complaint, the R&R’s analysis
and recommendations with respect to the original complaint also are largely applicable to
the amended complaint. As such, the Court will construe the R&R as applying to the
The R&R observes that, under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, this Court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction over challenges to state-court decisions. See D.C. Court of
Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482 (1983); Rooker v. Fid. Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413,
416 (1923). Thus, to the extent that Kapacs challenges the decisions of the Minnesota
state courts in his marriage-dissolution proceedings, the R&R recommends dismissal for
lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
As to Kapacs’s claim that the Board has acted
unlawfully in rejecting his claims of judicial misconduct, the R&R concludes that (1) this
Court must abstain from intervening in ongoing administrative state proceedings
involving alleged judicial misconduct and (2) Kapacs’s claim against the Board is both
factually and legally frivolous because Kapacs has not alleged any judicial impropriety or
misapplication of relevant law or that he has any legal entitlement to federal redress from
the Board’s decisions.
In his objections, Kapacs first asserts that the R&R omits or misstates certain facts
underlying his lawsuit. Kapacs does not, however, identify any alleged omissions or
misstatements that would materially affect the R&R’s analysis or legal conclusions.
Moreover, several of Kapacs’s objections misconstrue the R&R. For example, Kapacs
incorrectly asserts that the R&R concludes “that the Minnesota Board on Judicial
Standards . . . is above the law.” The R&R reaches no such conclusion. Kapacs also
incorrectly suggests that the R&R includes factual findings and legal conclusions as to
the merits of Kapacs’s claims. To the contrary, the R&R recommends declining to reach
the substantive merits of Kapacs’s claims for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
Significantly, Kapacs fails to acknowledge or remedy the jurisdictional
deficiencies identified in the R&R. Thus, the Court overrules Kapacs’s objections arising
from his claims challenging the decisions of the Minnesota state courts and adopts the
R&R’s recommendation that these claims be dismissed for lack of subject-matter
Although Kapacs challenges the R&R’s conclusion that his claims against the
Board must be dismissed, he does not challenge the R&R’s conclusion that this Court
must abstain from intervening in ongoing state administrative proceedings involving
alleged judicial misconduct.
When there is an ongoing state proceeding that both
implicates important state interests and provides an adequate opportunity to raise any
relevant federal questions, a federal court should abstain from exercising jurisdiction.
Plouffe v. Ligon, 606 F.3d 890, 892 (8th Cir. 2010). Kapacs’s representations to this
Court regarding the complaint he filed with the Board in July 2017 indicates that there is
an ongoing state proceeding. There “is a strong state interest in attorney disciplinary
proceedings.” Id. at 893. And Kapacs has not demonstrated that the state administrative
proceedings will not afford him an adequate opportunity to raise any relevant federal
See id. (recognizing that plaintiff bears burden to show that state attorney
discipline proceedings will not afford plaintiff opportunity to raise federal issues,
including constitutional claims). Nor has Kapacs shown bad faith, harassment or other
extraordinary circumstance that would make abstention inappropriate. See id. at 892-93.
Thus, Kapacs’s objections do not establish that abstention is unwarranted here. See id. at
893-94 (affirming dismissal of complaint against director of state professional conduct
office on abstention grounds).
Even if abstention were not warranted here, the Eleventh Amendment to the
United States Constitution bars a plaintiff from suing a state or its agencies in federal
court absent consent or congressional abrogation of immunity. Monroe v. Ark. State
Univ., 495 F.3d 591, 594 (8th Cir. 2007); Doe v. Nebraska, 345 F.3d 593, 597 (8th Cir.
2003). The Board is an agency of the State of Minnesota. See Minn. Stat. § 490A.01
(establishing Board); Snyder v. Kurvers, 767 F.2d 489, 490 (8th Cir. 1985) (describing
origins of Board). As a state agency, the Board is immune from being sued in federal
court unless the state has consented to the lawsuit or Congress has abrogated the Board’s
See Ashby v. Minn. Bd. on Judicial Standards, No. 08-4691, 2008
WL 5236023, at *3 (D. Minn. Dec. 15, 2008) (concluding that complaint against
Minnesota Board on Judicial Standards must be dismissed on immunity grounds).
Kapacs has not alleged that either circumstance exists here. For these reasons, the Court
overrules Kapacs’s objections with respect to his claims against the Board.
This Court reviews those portions of the R&R to which no objections have been
made for clear error. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b) 1983 advisory committee note; Grinder v.
Gammon, 73 F.3d 793, 795 (8th Cir. 1996) (per curiam). Having reviewed those portions
of the R&R, the Court concludes that the R&R is neither clearly erroneous nor contrary
Moreover, the additional information that Kapacs supplies in his amended
complaint does not remedy the deficiencies identified in the R&R or otherwise entitle
Kapacs to the relief he seeks.1
Based on the foregoing analysis, the R&R and all the files, records and
proceedings herein, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
Plaintiff’s objections, (Dkt. 24), are OVERRULED;
The August 22, 2017 R&R, (Dkt. 18), is ADOPTED;
Plaintiff’s amended complaint, (Dkt. 26), is DISMISSED WITHOUT
Plaintiff’s application to proceed in district court without prepaying fees or
costs, (Dkt. 2), is DENIED;
Plaintiff’s motion for a temporary restraining order, (Dkt. 4), is DENIED;
Plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction, (Dkt. 12), is DENIED; and
Plaintiff’s motion to appoint counsel, (Dkt. 25), is DENIED.
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.
Dated: November 20, 2017
s/Wilhelmina M. Wright
Wilhelmina M. Wright
United States District Judge
After filing his objections to the R&R, Kapacs filed a motion to appoint counsel.
In light of the Court’s rulings, Kapacs’s motion to appoint counsel is denied as moot.
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