Harper v. South Ogden City Justice Court et al
MEMORANDUM DECISION denying 4 Motion for Service of Process. Signed by Judge Ted Stewart on 02/01/2012. (tls)
IN THE UNITED STATES COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH
SHARI D. HARPER
Plaintiff Sui Juris PAG
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND
ORDER ON MOTION FOR
SERVICE OF PROCESS
SOUTH OGDEN CITY, STATE OF UTAH,
Case No. 2:11-CV-94 TS
This matter is before the Court for screening of Plaintiff’s Complaint. Plaintiff is
proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. Because the Court finds that Plaintiff’s Complaint fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the Court will deny Plaintiff’s Motion for
Service of Process and dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint.
Plaintiff Shari Harper filed her Complaint with the Court on June 7, 2011. On August 24,
2011, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Service of Process, leading the Court to now screen Plaintiff’s
Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), a court must screen cases filed in forma pauperis and
must “dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal (i) is
frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.”
“Dismissal of a pro se complaint for failure to state a claim is proper only where it
is obvious that the plaintiff cannot prevail on the facts he has alleged and it would
be futile to give him an opportunity to amend.” “In determining whether a
dismissal is proper, we must accept the allegations of the complaint as true and
construe those allegations, and any reasonable inferences that might be drawn
from them, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” 1
We apply the same standard of review for dismissals under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)
that we employ for Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss
for failure to state a claim. . . . In the Rule 12(b)(6) context, “[w]e look for
plausibility in th[e] complaint.” In particular, we “look to the specific allegations
in the complaint to determine whether they plausibly support a legal claim for
relief.” Rather than adjudging whether a claim is “improbable,” “[f]actual
allegations [in a complaint] must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” 2
“In addition, we must construe a pro se appellant’s complaint liberally.” This
liberal treatment is not without limits, and “this court has repeatedly insisted that
pro se parties follow the same rules of procedure that govern other litigants.” 3
III. ALLEGATIONS IN PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT
Plaintiff’s Complaint names as Defendants “South Ogden City, State of Utah, [and] John
Does.” 4 Plaintiff’s Complaint states that Plaintiff was arrested, charged, and convicted for
Kay v. Bemis, 500 F.3d 1214, 1217 (quoting Curley v. Perry, 246 F.3d 1278, 1281 (10th
Cir. 2001) (internal quotation omitted); Gaines v. Stenseng, 292 F.3d 1222, 1224 (10th Cir.
Id. at 1217-18 (quoting Alvarado v. KOB-TV, L.L.C., 493 F.3d 1210, 1215 & n.2 (10th
Cir. 2007); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007)).
Id. at 1218 (quoting Gaines v. Stenseng, 292 F.3d at 1224 (10th Cir. 2002); Garrett v.
Selby, Connor, Maddux & Janer, 425 F.3d 836, 840 (10th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation
Docket No 3, at 1.
events occurring at the Utah Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic in Ogden, Utah. 5
Plaintiff argues that the South Ogden Justice Court, where she was convicted, did not have
jurisdiction over these matters because it was ceded to the United States under Utah Code Ann. §
63L-1-201, 6 which states:
Jurisdiction is hereby ceded to the United States in, to and over any and all lands
or territory within this state which have heretofore been acquired by the United
States by purchase, condemnation or otherwise for military or naval purposes and
for forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards and other needful buildings of every
kind whenever authorized by Act of Congress, and in, to and over any and all
lands or territory within this state now held by the United States under lease, use
permit, or reserved from the public domain for any of the purposes aforesaid; this
state, however, reserving the right to execute its process, both criminal and civil,
within such territory. The jurisdiction so ceded shall continue so long as the
United States shall own, hold or reserve land for any of the aforesaid purposes, or
in connection therewith, and no longer.
Plaintiff alleges that Utah ceded jurisdiction under this statute, 7 making the proceedings
in the justice court illegal hearings held by “a foreign government with hostile interest to the
united states [sic].” 8 A judgment was entered for $938, and Plaintiff was threatened with a sixty
day incarceration if that was not paid by May 29, 2011. 9 Plaintiff appealed this judgment 10 and
then filed her Complaint with this Court on June 7, 2011. In her Complaint, Plaintiff “seeks
declaratory relief as to where jurisdiction properly resides” and “an order of injunction against
Id. at 3-4.
Id. at 4.
any person attempting to incarcerate or enforce the wrongful and void orders of the Justice
Plaintiff does not specifically allege that the Federal Government purchased the land the
clinic was located on. However, even if the Court were to construe Plaintiff’s Complaint to
contain such an allegation, the Rooker-Feldman 12 doctrine removes this Court’s jurisdiction over
this case. Plaintiff asks the Court to set aside a prior state court proceeding or enter an injunction
barring execution of the judgment, but “[t]he Rooker-Feldman doctrine prevents lower federal
courts from exercising jurisdiction over cases brought by state-court losers challenging statecourt judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced.” 13
Based on the foregoing, it is therefore
ORDERED that Plaintiff Shari Harper’s Motion for Service of Process (Docket No. 4) is
DENIED. It is further
ORDERED that Plaintiff’s claims against all Defendants are DISMISSED WITHOUT
PREJUDICE. The Clerk of the Court is directed close this case forthwith.
Id. at 5-6.
Rooker v. Fid. Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923); D.C. Ct. of Ap. v. Feldman, 460 U.S.
Lance v. Dennis, 546 U.S. 459, 460 (2006) (per curiam) (internal quotations omitted)
(citing Exxon Mobil Corp v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005)).
DATED February 1, 2012.
BY THE COURT:
United States District Judge
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