Mitchell v. Douglas et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - Plaintiff's Complaint (filing no. 1 ) is dismissed without prejudice to reassertion in the proper forum. A separate judgment will be entered in accordance with this Memorandum and Order. Ordered by Judge Richard G. Kopf. (Copy mailed to pro se party) (AOA)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
LESLIE DOUGLAS, ETTA
GRAVES, and DOUG JOHNSON,
Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this matter on July 21, 2011. (Filing No. 1.)
Plaintiff is not a prisoner and has been given leave to proceed in forma pauperis in this
matter. (Filing No. 8.) The court now conducts an initial review of the Complaint to
determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
Plaintiff filed his Complaint against three Defendants, all employees of Douglas
County, Nebraska. (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 2.) Plaintiff’s Complaint is difficult
to decipher. As best as the court can tell, Plaintiff alleges that the Douglas County,
Nebraska County Court sentenced him to a term of 30 days in jail as a result of a state
criminal case. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants “are guilty of cabalously
hypothecating/deep sixing” Plaintiff’s appeal of this sentence. (Id. at CM/ECF p. 1.)
Defendants filed Plaintiff’s notice of appeal, but failed to file his request for bond in
the state-court criminal matter. (Id. at CM/ECF p. 3.) Plaintiff seeks an injunction
requiring Defendants to stop “depredations on and violations of” Plaintiff’s
“constitutional rights.” (Id. at CM/ECF pp. 4-5.)
APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS ON INITIAL REVIEW
The court is required to review in forma pauperis complaints to determine
whether summary dismissal is appropriate. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The court
must dismiss a complaint or any portion thereof that states a frivolous or malicious
claim, that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
A pro se plaintiff must set forth enough factual allegations to “nudge their
claims across the line from conceivable to plausible,” or “their complaint must be
dismissed” for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct.
1937, 1950 (2009) (“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.”). Regardless of whether a plaintiff is represented
or is appearing pro se, the plaintiff’s complaint must allege specific facts sufficient to
state a claim. See Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985). However,
a pro se plaintiff’s allegations must be construed liberally. Burke v. North Dakota
Dep’t of Corr. & Rehab., 294 F.3d 1043, 1043-44 (8th Cir. 2002) (citations omitted).
DISCUSSION OF CLAIMS
Liberally construed, Plaintiff alleges Defendants failed to file his pleadings
regarding bail, and delayed the filing of his notice of appeal, in his state-court criminal
proceedings. (Filing No. 1.) The abstention doctrine of Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S.
37, 59 (1971), provides that federal courts should abstain from hearing cases when
there is an ongoing state judicial proceeding that implicates important state interests,
and when that proceeding affords an adequate opportunity to raise the federal
questions presented. See Norwood v. Dickey, 409 F.3d 901, 903 (8th Cir. 2005); see
also Herrera v. Safir, 17 F. App’x 41, 42 (2d Cir. 2001) (holding that the plaintiff’s
claim to enjoin his criminal prosecution was barred by Younger because his state court
criminal trial was pending, providing the opportunity to raise his constitutional claims
where there was no showing of prosecutorial or judicial bad faith).
Here, it is clear that Plaintiff has ongoing state-court matters in Nebraska.
There is no question that he may raise his claims relating to his bond while his case
is on appeal in that ongoing state-court proceeding. Additionally, Plaintiff may also
raise any complaints regarding Defendants’ delay in filing his appeal in his state-court
proceeding. Plaintiff has not alleged that the state court proceeding will not provide
him with an adequate opportunity to raise his federal claims and this court will
therefore abstain from hearing any of Plaintiff’s claims that relate to his ongoing state
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that:
Plaintiff’s Complaint (filing no. 1) is dismissed without prejudice to
reassertion in the proper forum.
A separate judgment will be entered in accordance with this
Memorandum and Order.
DATED this 7 th day of September, 2011.
Plaintiff may also be seeking relief from the state court’s decision regarding
his sentence. However, this court is barred from exercising jurisdiction over those
final state-court judgments because the Rooker-Feldman doctrine prohibits lower
federal courts from exercising appellate review of state court judgments. Rooker v.
Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 416 (1923); District of Columbia Court of Appeals
v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482 (1983).
BY THE COURT:
Richard G. Kopf
United States District Judge
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