W. A. MacGuire v. The Virginia Board of Bar Examiners
ORDER denying as moot 4 Motion for Preliminary Injunction; denying as moot 5 Motion for Recusal. ; granting 1 Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis; denying as moot 3 Motion for TRO; Dismissing Complaint and striking case from the Court's Active docket. Signed by Judge Norman K. Moon on 12/8/2011. (mab)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA
W. A. MACGUIRE ,
CIVIL NO . 3:11CV 00056
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
THE VIRGINIA BOARD OF
JUDGE NORMAN K. MOON
Plaintiff, W. A. MacGuire, filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, along with a complaint attempting to assert claims against the Virginia Board
of Bar Examiners.
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, district courts have a duty to screen initial filings and dismiss a
complaint filed in forma pauperis “at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or
appeal . . . is frivolous or malicious . . . [or] fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted. . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(ii); see also Eriline Co. S.A. v. Johnson, 440 F.3d 648,
656 (4th Cir. 2006). “[Section] 1915 permits district courts to independently assess the merits of in
forma pauperis complaints, and ‘to exclude suits that have no arguable basis in law or fact.’”
Eriline, 440 F.3d at 656 (quoting Nasim v. Warden, Md. House of Correction, 64 F.3d 951, 954
(4th Cir. 1995)).
As stated herein, the motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is granted, and the
complaint is dismissed.
According to PACER, the federal courts’ system providing “Public Access to Court
Electronic Records,” Plaintiff has filed 51 civil actions in various district courts of the United
States since 1985. The majority (but not all) of these cases concern Plaintiff’s disbarment by the
Florida Bar1 and the Virginia State Bar’s refusal to admit him as a member.
As several opinions in previous cases have informed Plaintiff, federal courts cannot review
particular denials of bar admission, but only general attacks on the constitutionality of a bar rule.
See District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482-87 (1983); MacGuire v.
Street, 28 F.3d 1210 (Table) (4th Cir. 1994); MacGuire v. Glenn, 23 F.3d 402 (Table) (4th Cir.
1994); MacGuire v. Street, 1 F.3d 1233 (Table) (4th Cir. 1993). Otherwise, the instant complaint
contains no relevant factual allegations and identifies no avenue of potential legal relief that would
permit this court to order the president of the Virginia State Bar “to agree to stop designating
petitioner as a person under suspension and/or disbarment in the jurisdiction of Florida. . . .”
As the complaint has no arguable basis in fact and fails to state a legal claim upon which
relief can be granted, it must be dismissed.2 Principles requiring generous construction of pro se
Although the complaint states that “your Petitioner is not a person under suspension or disbarment in
the jurisdiction of Florida and Petitioner has never been a person under suspension or disbarment in Florida,”
a search on the Florida Bar’s Web-site, www.floridabar.org, indicates that William Anthony MacGuire of
Orange, Virginia, was admitted to the Florida Bar in February 1975, but has been “Disbarred” and is “Not
Eligible to practice in Florida.” The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit observed that
“MacGuire was convicted in Florida state court . . . of two counts related to making verbal and written threats
against the life of then-Governor Robert Graham of Florida,” MacGuire v. Henry, 966 F.2d 1443 (Table) (4th
Cir. 1992), and that “MacGuire was an attorney licensed to practice in Florida. His license was revoked as
a result of his conviction,” id. at n. * (citing Florida Bar v. MacGuire, 529 So. 2d 669 (Fla. 1988)).
I add that a court is not obliged to ferret through a complaint, searching for viable claims. See Holsey
v. Collins, 90 F.R.D. 122 (D. Md.1981) (although pro se complaint contained potentially viable claims, the
court properly dismissed without prejudice under Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 since voluminous, repetitive, and
conclusory complaint is not a “short and plain statement” of facts and legal claims; the court specifically
observed that dismissal under Rule 8 was proper because such a complaint “places an unjustifiable burden
on defendants to determine the nature of the claim against them and to speculate on what their defenses might
be,” and “imposes a similar burden on the court to sort out the facts now hidden in a mass of charges,
arguments, generalizations and rumors”); see also Spencer v. Hedges, 838 F.2d 1210 (Table) (4th Cir. 1988).
In the context of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8, it is clear that a plaintiff must provide enough detail to illuminate the
nature of the claim and allow defendants to respond. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, slip op. at 5 (2007).
And, although district courts have a duty to construe pro se pleadings liberally, a pro se plaintiff must
nevertheless allege facts that state a cause of action, and district courts are not required “to conjure up
pleadings are not without limits. Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1277 (4th Cir.
1985). A complaint must contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material
elements of some viable legal theory to satisfy federal notice pleading requirements. See Scheid v.
Fanny Farmer Candy Shops, Inc., 859 F.2d 434, 437 (6th Cir. 1988). And, although district courts
have a duty to construe pro se pleadings liberally, a pro se plaintiff must nevertheless allege facts
that state a cause of action, and district courts are not required “to conjure up questions never
squarely presented to them.” Beaudett, 775 F.2d at 1278 (adding that “[d]istrict judges are not
Plaintiff is advised that, although “detailed factual allegations” are not required, his
“obligation to provide the ‘grounds’ of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief’ requires more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do”; in other
words, his “factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level. . . .” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted). A
complaint does not “suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]’ devoid of ‘further factual
questions never squarely presented to them.” Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir.
1985) (adding that “[d]istrict judges are not mind readers”).
Here, the complaint does not comply with the requirements of Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. In addition to the call in Rule 8(a)(1) for “a short and plain statement of the grounds for the
court’s jurisdiction,” Rule 8(a)(2) requires “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader
is entitled to relief,” and Rule 8(d)(1) requires that each averment of a pleading be “simple, concise, and
direct.” A pleading “does not have to set out in detail the facts on which the claim for relief is based,” 2
Moore’s Federal Practice ¶ 8.04, at 8-22 (3d ed. 2002), but must give the court and the defendant “fair
notice of what that plaintiff’s claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Swirkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534
U.S. 506, 512 (2002) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). A court may dismiss a complaint
that is “so confused, ambiguous, vague or otherwise unintelligible that its true substance, if any, is well
disguised.” Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d Cir. 1988). Here, the complaint is not a “short and
plain statement,” nor is it “concise and direct,” and the convoluted and redundant narratives and far-fetched
legal conclusions render the complaint nearly incomprehensible. The complaint does not provide the
defendants “fair notice” of the claims and facts upon which they are based. Therefore, because the complaint
does not comply with Rule 8, it could be dismissed on that alternative ground.
enhancement.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, ___, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Plaintiff is further advised that courts are entitled to dismiss claims
when the pleadings are “conclusory” and “do not plausibly establish” that a defendant acted
Id., 556 U.S. at ___, 129 S. Ct. at 1951 (“[i]t is the conclusory nature of
respondent’s allegations, rather than their extravagantly fanciful nature, that disentitles them to
the presumption of truth”).
Accordingly, the motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (docket no. 1) is
GRANTED; the complaint (docket no. 2) is DISMISSED as FRIVOLOUS because it has no
arguable basis in law or fact; and all other pending motions are DENIED as MOOT. The Clerk of
the Court is DIRECTED to amend the style of this case as “W. A. MacGuire v. The Virginia
Board of Bar Examiners,”3 and to TERMINATE the matter and STRIKE it from the court’s
It is so ORDERED.
The Clerk is further DIRECTED to send a certified copy of this memorandum opinion and
order to Plaintiff.
Entered this _____ day of December, 2011 .
Plaintiff styled the case as “United States of America Ex Rel W. A. MacGuire v. The Virginia Board
of Bar Examiners,” and the Clerk of the Court docketed it as such. However, Plaintiff is not a private party
relator upon whose behalf the government has brought a cause of action.
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