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Collins v. Acree

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

May 13, 2013

CHARLES W. COLLINS, Plaintiff,
v.
JUDGE GLENN ACREE, ET AL., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

KARL S. FORESTER, Senior District Judge.

Charles W. Collins is an inmate formerly[1] confined in the Fayette County Detention Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Proceeding without an attorney, Collins has filed a civil rights complaint asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. [R. 1][2]

The Court must conduct a preliminary review of Collins' complaint because he has been granted permission to proceed in forma pauperis and because he asserts claims against government officials. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A. A district court must dismiss any claim that is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. McGore v. Wrigglesworth, 114 F.3d 601, 607-08 (6th Cir. 1997). The Court evaluates Collins' complaint under a more lenient standard because he is not represented by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Burton v. Jones, 321 F.3d 569, 573 (6th Cir. 2003). At this stage, the Court accepts Collins' factual allegations as true, and liberally construes his legal claims in his favor. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).

Having reviewed the complaint, the Court will dismiss it because Collins has not stated grounds entitling him to relief under § 1983. The Court will also deny as moot Collins' motions seeking either a stay and/or the appointment of counsel.

ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT

Collins alleges that in August 2012, he filed a petition "for an extraordinary writ, in the nature of Quo Warranto...." [R. 1, p. 2]. He states that he filed his petition as an "original action" pursuant to CR 76.36.[3] [ Id. ]. Collins does identify the court in which he filed his petition/original action, but he gives the impression that he filed it in the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Collins alleges that "Defendant Acree" arbitrarily denied his petition and violated his constitutional right of access to the court by denying his motion to proceed in forma pauperis based on alleged deficiencies in that motion. [ Id., p. 2] Collins also alleges that Defendant Sam Givens "wrongfully" and through an "act of negligence" supplied him with the wrong in forma pauperis form, i.e., one that did not contain a notary provision. [ Id., p. 3] Collins further alleges that Acree and Givens "combined" to deprive him of access to the courts and violate his due process rights. [ Id. ] As noted, Acree is the Chief Judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals and Givens is the Clerk of the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

However, the Kentucky Court of Appeals' website contains no listing of a civil proceeding filed by Collins in August 2012.[4] According to that court's website, the only case listed under the name of "Charles W. Collins" is a direct appeal from the Madison Circuit Court, Case No. 04-CI-00470, which is docketed as Collins Wes Collins v. Federal National Mortgage Ass'n, et al., Case No. 2006-CA-000867-MR, filed on April 21, 2006. That case was concluded adversely to Collins in 2007. See Collins v. Federal National Mortgage Ass'n, et al., No. 2006-CA-000867-MR, 2007 WL 3227182 (Ky. App. Nov. 2, 2007).

Thus, it appears that Collins did not file his petition in the Kentucky Court of Appeals, but that he apparently filed it in either a Kentucky district or circuit court. Collins' allegations concerning his petition are extremely disjointed and confusing, but Collins appears to allege that he filed his petition to remedy what he claims was an unjust outcome in his domestic relations/child custody proceedings, and/or to have an adverse ruling (or rulings) declared invalid and void because of "fraud upon the court." [ Id., p. 3]. Collins then provided a lengthy and detailed accounting of the protracted domestic relations/child custody and criminal proceedings to which he has been a party between 2003 and 2012 - both in the Kentucky state courts and in this Court.[5] [ Id., pp. 4-8].

Collins alleges, among other things, that Fayette Circuit Family Court Judge Jo Anne Wise violated his right to due process of law by transferring a domestic and/or child custody proceeding to which he had been a party to Scott County; that the "Fayette Judgment was not valid" and "was void by fraud, " id., p. 2, and that Defendants Acree, Givens, Wise, Gormley, and others acted "in concert" to deprive him of an impartial forum and to deny him due process of law. [ Id., p. 3] Collins generally alleges that the defendants to this action violated his right to due process of law during his numerous other state and federal court proceedings.

Collins initially complained that Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Glenn Acree and Kentucky Court of Appeals Clerk Sam Givens had violated his constitutional rights by denying the petition he filed in August 2012. By the end of his complaint, however, Collins did not request any relief concerning that particular proceeding, but instead sought relief relative to his underlying domestic relations proceedings. Collins seeks an order (1) declaring that the"Fayette Court" judgment was invalid, procured by fraud and deception, and violated his federal rights guaranteed under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution; (2) granting him a new trial presided over by a special judge; and (3) unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. See "Relief, " [R. 1, p. 11]

DISCUSSION

Collins effectively asks this Court to overrule or set aside adverse rulings rendered in his state court domestic relations proceeding by issuing a declaratory judgment finding that the order or orders entered in the "Fayette Court" were invalid and procured by fraud. He also asks this Court to further intervene in his state court domestic relations proceedings and appoint a new judge to preside over them.

The Rooker-Feldman doctrine prohibits such a result as to both Collins' specific request seeking a declaration that his domestic relations proceedings were invalid and his construed request seeking damages against the named defendants for allegedly interfering with or refusing to process his August 2012 "petition." The Rooker-Feldman doctrine divests all federal district courts of subject matter jurisdiction to review state court judgments. See generally Rooker v. Fid. Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923); Dist. of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983); Peterson Novelties, Inc. v. City of Berkley, 305 F.3d 386, 390 (6th Cir. 2002). A party raising a federal question must appeal a state court decision through the state system and then proceed directly to the Supreme Court of the United States. Feldman, 460 U.S. at 483 n. 16; Rooker, 263 U.S. at 415-16; United States v. Owens, 54 F.3d 271, 274 (6th Cir. 1995).

The doctrine reflects the principle set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1257, that the United States Supreme Court is the exclusive federal court with jurisdiction to review state court decisions. Accordingly, the doctrine prevents district courts from entertaining challenges to state court decisions, "even if those challenges allege that the state court's action was unconstitutional." Feldman, 460 U.S. at 486. Thus, if Collins was dissatisfied either with a ruling or rulings rendered in his Fayette or Scott Circuit court ...


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