Zuniga-Griffin v. Oklahoma, State of
OPINION AND ORDER by Judge Ronald A. White : Plaintiff fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted and the court finds that plaintiff's action is frivolous.(case terminated) (acg, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA
Holly Zuniga-Griffin, as mother of
Case No. 17-CIV-054-RAW
State of Oklahoma,
OPINION AND ORDER
Before the court is the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Under 28 USC § 2241.
Plaintiff, EMZ-G, a minor child, requests the “immediate return to the care and custody of
his biological mother,” and the dismissal of an alleged deprived child petition filed in
Muskogee County District Court [Docket No. 2, Page 8]. The petition is signed by
Plaintiff’s biological mother, Holly Zuniga-Griffin.
The court construes Plaintiff=s allegations liberally as Plaintiff is pro se. See Haines
v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519 (1972). Additionally, the court notes that the biological mother
cannot represent EMZ-G in this action. Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(c), “a minor child cannot
bring suit through a parent acting as next friend if the parent is not represented by an attorney.”
Meeker v. Kercher, 782 F.2d 153, 154 (10th Cir. 1986).
Plaintiff=s petition is a list of accusations against the Defendant.
arguments involve the “wrongful detainment” of EMZ-G, the minor child who is currently
in temporary custody of DHS. Plaintiff=s arguments are Acompletely lacking in legal merit
and patently frivolous.@ Lonsdale v. United States, 919 F.2d 1440, 1448 (10th Cir. 1990).
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
Under 28 U.S.C. ' 2241
Plaintiff has filed the claims as a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28
U.S.C. ' 2241. This statute generally states that such actions pertain to a “prisoner” who
is in custody under the authority of the United States, or is in custody in violation of the
Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States. The United States Supreme Court
previously decided the question of whether federal habeas corpus jurisdiction may be
invoked to challenge a state taking custody of minor children:
Although a federal habeas corpus statute has existed ever since 1867, federal habeas
has never been available to challenge parental rights or child custody. Indeed, in two
cases, the Court refused to allow the writ in such instances. Matters v. Ryan, 249
U.S. 375, 39 S.Ct. 315, 63 L.Ed. 654 (1919); In re Burrus, 136 U.S. 586, 10 S.Ct.
850, 34 L.Ed. 1500 (1890). These decisions rest on the absence of a federal
question, but the opinions suggest that federal habeas corpus is not available to
challenge child custody. Moreover, federal courts consistently have shown special
solicitude for state interests “in the field of family and family-property
arrangements.” United States v. Yazell, 382 U.S. 341, 352, 86 S.Ct. 500, 507, 16
L.Ed.2d 404 (1966). Under these circumstances, extending the federal writ to
challenges to state child-custody decisions-challenges based on alleged
constitutional defects collateral to the actual custody decision-would be an
unprecedented expansion of the jurisdiction of the lower federal courts.
Lehman v. Lycoming Cty. Children's Servs. Agency, 458 U.S. 502, 511–12, 102 S. Ct.
3231, 3237–38, 73 L. Ed. 2d 928 (1982). See also, Anderson v. State of Colorado, 793
F.2d 262, 263 (10th Cir. 1986) (“Mr. Anderson may not use federal habeas corpus as a
vehicle to undo the custody decision of the Colorado court.”)
28 U.S.C. ' 1915
Section 1915 of the United States Code, Title 28, states as follows:
(2) Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have
been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines
(A) the allegation of poverty is untrue; or (B) the action or
(i) is frivolous or malicious;
(ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune
from such relief.
28 U.S.C.A. ' 1915(e)(2).
A complaint is frivolous Awhere it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.@
Further, the term frivolous Aembraces not only the inarguable legal conclusion, but also the
fanciful factual allegation.@ Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A plaintiff is
not required to make out a perfect case in their complaint. Rather, AIt suffices for him to
state claims that are rationally related to the existing law and the credible factual
allegations.@ Lemmons v. Law Firm of Morris and Morris, 39 F.3d 264 (10th Cir. 1994).
Sua Sponte Dismissal
ASua sponte dismissals are generally disfavored by the courts.@ Banks v. Vio
Software, 275 Fed.Appx. 800 (10th Circ. 2008). A court shall dismiss a case at any time,
however, if the court determines that the action fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28
U.S.C. ' 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and (iii).
Indeed, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has stated that a district court is required
to dismiss an action that fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. Trujillo v. Williams,
465 F.3d 1210, 1216 n.5 (10th Cir. 2006).
The court may sua sponte dismiss an action pursuant to ' 1915 when Aon the face of
the complaint it clearly appears that the action is frivolous or malicious.@ Hall v. Bellmon,
935 F.2d 1106, 1108 (10th Cir. 1991). AThe term >frivolous= refers to >the inarguable legal
conclusion= and >the fanciful factual allegation.=@ Id. (citation omitted). Further, a Atrial
court may dismiss a claim sua sponte without notice where the claimant cannot possibly
win relief.@ McKinney v. State of Oklahoma, 925 F.2d 363, 364 (10th Cir. 1991).
The court does not take lightly its decision in this matter. The allegations listed in
the petition, however, do not create a claim upon which this lawsuit can proceed.
The court finds that Plaintiff=s action is frivolous, and that Plaintiff fails to state a
claim on which relief can be granted. The court finds that amendment in this matter
would be futile.
This matter is dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Additionally, the Clerk of the Court is directed to refund the $5.00 filing fee to Plaintiff.
Dated this 9th day of March, 2017.
HONORABLE RONALD A. WHITE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
EASTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA
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