Copeland v. State of Ohio et al
Memorandum Opinion and Order granting Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis and dismissing this matter. An appeal from this decision may not be taken in good faith. Judge John R. Adams on 9/9/15. (K,C)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
CHARLES D. COPELAND,
STATE OF OHIO, et al.,
CASE NO. 4:15 CV 1653
JUDGE JOHN R. ADAMS
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION
On August 18, 2015, Plaintiff pro se Charles D. Copeland filed this in forma pauperis
action against Defendants State of Ohio and Trumbull County Family Court. While the
Complaint is unclear, Plaintiff appears to allege he helped raise the child of a friend with whom
he lived, but that now he has not been permitted to visit the child. Plaintiff asserts violation of
the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. For the reasons stated below, this action is dismissed
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e).
Although pro se pleadings are liberally construed, Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364,
365 (1982) (per curiam); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), the district court is
required to dismiss an action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) if it fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted, or if it lacks an arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319 (1989); Lawler v. Marshall, 898 F.2d 1196 (6th Cir. 1990); Sistrunk v. City of Strongsville,
99 F.3d 194, 197 (6th Cir. 1996).
A cause of action fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted when it lacks
“plausibility in the complaint.” Bell At. Corp. V. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 564 (2007). A
pleading must contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009). The factual allegations in
the pleading must be sufficient to raise the right to relief above the speculative level on the
assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The
plaintiff is not required to include detailed factual allegations, but must provide more than “an
unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal , 556 U.S. at 678 (2009).
A pleading that offers legal conclusions or a simple recitation of the elements of a cause of
action will not meet this pleading standard. Id.
Federal courts have traditionally deferred to the States in child custody matters. Elk
Grove Unified Sch. Dist. v. Newdow, 542 U.S. 1, 12 (2004) (“[The] Court has customarily
declined to intervene [in] the realm of domestic relations. Long ago we observed that ‘[t]he
whole subject of the domestic relations of husband and wife, parent and child, belongs to the
laws of the States and not to the laws of the United States.’ ”)(citing In re Burrus, 136 U.S. 586,
593 (1890)); see also Drewes v. Ilnicki, 863 F.2d 469, 471-72 (6th Cir.1988) (Court declined to
hear plaintiff's case, stating his complaint was a “mere pretense” for obtaining federal review of
the underlying merits of a domestic relations dispute); In re Chatman, 2007 WL 4365379
(S.D.Ohio Dec. 10, 2007) (“[C]hild custody is a state law matter.”).
Even construing the Complaint liberally in a light most favorable to the Plaintiff, Brand
v. Motley, 526 F.3d 921, 924 (6th Cir. 2008), it does not contain allegations reasonably
suggesting he might have a valid federal claim, or even that there is an arguable basis for this
Court’s jurisdiction. Accordingly, the request to proceed in forma pauperis is granted, and this
action is dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The Court certifies, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a)(3), that an appeal from this decision could not be taken in good faith.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
/s/ John R. Adams
JOHN R. ADAMS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
Date: September 9, 2015
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