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Christian v. 43RD District Court for State of Michigan

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

December 16, 2016



          STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Maurice Christian filed a pro se lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the 43rd District Court, the City of Hazel Park, and Judge Charles Goedert. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court has a duty to sua sponte dismiss a frivolous or malicious in forma pauperis complaint. The Court may dismiss "without permitting the plaintiff to amend the complaint." Coleman v. Tollefson, 733 F.3d 175, 177 (6th Cir. 2013), as amended on denial of reh'g and reh'g en banc, (Jan. 17, 2014), aff'd, 135 S.Ct. 1759 (2015). Even with the Court previously "granting [a] liberal construction" to the pro se complaint, plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Jones v. Caruso, 569 F.3d 258, 263 (6th Cir. 2009). Accordingly, the Court will dismiss the complaint. Moreover, the Court will enjoin plaintiff from further filings without permission of the Court.


         Plaintiff's complaint appears to challenge a March 4, 2014 state-court order to pay court fees. Compl. 18, ECF No. 1. Plaintiff makes three claims. First, he claims that Judge Goedert violated his right to due process by refusing to answer a motion to stay and enjoin the payment of court fees. Id. at 8. Second, he argues that the 43rd District Court lacked jurisdiction. Id. at 9. Finally, he contends that Judge Goedert and the City of Hazel Park unjustly enriched themselves by requiring him to pay the court fee. Id. ¶ 56. In support, plaintiff invokes the Alien Tort Claims Act, the United Nation's 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, and the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Id. at 1-2, ECF No. 1.


         The Court must sua sponte dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint that fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or a claim over which the court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). A complaint fails to state a claim if the allegations are not "sufficient 'to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ' and to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Hensley Mfg. v. ProPride, Inc., 579 F.3d 603, 609 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570 (2007)). When evaluating the claims, the Court views the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, presumes the truth of all well-pled factual assertions, and draws every reasonable inference in favor of the non-moving party. Bassett v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 528 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir. 2008).

         A "pleading that offers 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the element of a cause of action will not do.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). The complaint must offer more than the "bare assertion of legal conclusions, " Tackett v. M & G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009), or a "formulaic recitation of the elements." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Rather, a complaint must provide sufficient facts to show a "plausibility of entitlement to relief." Id. at 678 (quotations omitted).


         I. Due Process Claim

         Christian claims Judge Goedert "violated the Plaintiff's Right to Due Process by refusing to answer the Plaintiff's Request For Stay and Injunction on Execution of the Due Date of Court Fees and Clarity on the Itemization of the Court Fees and Request to have Court Fees Due at the End of Probation petition." Compl. ¶ 30, ECF No. 1. As far as the Court can tell, Christian bases his claim on a state-court judgment that required him to pay a court fee in connection with a misdemeanor conviction. Id. ¶ 19.

         Generally, federal courts lack jurisdiction to review state-court criminal judgments. Carter v. Burns, 524 F.3d 796, 798 (6th Cir. 2008). "The Rooker-Feldman doctrine denies federal jurisdiction to cases brought by state-court losers complaining of injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and inviting district court review and rejection of those judgments." Id. (quoting Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005)). The doctrine applies "when a plaintiff complains of injury from the state-court judgment itself." Id. But the doctrine "does not prohibit federal district courts from exercising jurisdiction where the plaintiff's claim is merely a general challenge to the constitutionality of the state law applied in the state action[.]" Id.

         Here, Christian seeks relief from a state-court judgment imposing a fee. The Court does not have jurisdiction to serve as a tribunal for Christian's direct appeal of a state-court criminal judgment. As a result, the Court will dismiss Count I with prejudice.

         II. Jurisdiction Claim

         Next, Christian contends that the 43rd Circuit Court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction in his state-court criminal case. But Christian must offer "more than the bare assertion of legal conclusions" to state a viable claim for relief. Tackett, 561 F.3d at 488. "[T]he tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable" to Christian's legal conclusion that the 43rd Circuit Court lacked jurisdiction. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Since those limited claims of Christian's that are intelligible failed to ...

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