United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. REEVES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
without counsel, Plaintiffs Evan Blakeny and Lucinda
Christian filed a Complaint against Paul F. Isaacs, Judge of
the Circuit Court of Scott County, Kentucky. The suit is
filed against Judge Isaacs in his individual and official
capacities. [Record No. 1] The plaintiffs assert federal
claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as various
provisions of state law. More specifically, Blakeny and
Christian allege that Isaacs violated their rights while he
presided over a legal proceeding relating to the foreclosure
of a residence. Christian also has moved to proceed in
forma pauperis and has provided an affidavit, asserting
that she lacks sufficient funds to pay the filing fee.
[Record No. 2] For the reasons that follow, the Complaint
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and
will be summarily dismissed. See 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2) (stating that courts may, sua sponte,
dismiss a frivolous in forma pauperis complaint).
initial matter, this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
regarding the claims asserted. Under the
Rooker-Felder doctrine, “federal courts lack
jurisdiction to review a case litigated and decided in state
court as only the United States Supreme Court has
jurisdiction to correct state court judgments.”
Marshall v. Bowles, 92 Fed.Appx. 283, 284 (6th Cir.
2004) (citing District of Columbia Court of Appeals v.
Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482 (1983); Rooker v.
Fidelity Trust Co., 13');">263 U.S. 413, 415-16 (1923)). The
plaintiff in Marshall pursued an action against a
state domestic relations judge, asserting claims related to a
proceeding over which he presided. Id. Specifically,
the plaintiff alleged that the judge violated her due process
rights through various orders and rulings during the
proceeding. Id. The Sixth Circuit held that
“[a] fair reading of the complaint reveals that [the
plaintiff's] federal case is an impermissible appeal of
state court judgments as it raises specific grievances
regarding decisions of” the state court. Id.
The Sixth Circuit concluded that the district court lacked
subject matter jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine because the complaint was effectively a challenge of
the state court's actions.
the plaintiffs' Complaint is, in essence, an
impermissible appeal of the state court's judgment. The
claims pertain solely to Judge Isaacs' rulings while
presiding over the plaintiffs' case. By challenging these
actions, the plaintiffs are asking this Court to evaluate the
validity of the state court's determinations and ultimate
judgment. Moreover, the primary requested relief in this case
is an equitable judgment “ordering and prohibiting
enforcement of any orders or judgment entered during the
proceedings.” [Record No. 1, p. 15] Asking this Court
to essentially declare a state court judgment invalid and
unenforceable functions as a challenge to that court's
judgment. Accordingly, it is an improper appeal and this
Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.
that this Court could exercise jurisdiction in this case, the
claims would be dismissed as frivolous. As a general rule, a
judicial officer performing his judicial functions is
absolutely immune from a suit seeking monetary damages.
Mann v. Conlin, 100');">22 F.3d 100, 103 (6th Cir. 1994).
The plaintiffs attempt to avoid this immunity by seeking
injunctive relief rather than monetary damages. The Supreme
Court has stated that “judicial immunity is not a bar
to prospective injunctive relief against a judicial officer
acting in her judicial capacity.” Pulliam v.
Allen, 466 U.S. 522, 542 (1984). However, in matters
brought against judicial officer for actions taken in their
judicial capacity, “injunctive relief shall not be
granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or
declaratory relief was unavailable.” 42 U.S.C. §
1983. In this case, the plaintiffs have failed to allege that
a declaratory decree was violated or that declaratory relief
was unavailable. Accordingly, they have failed to state a
claim for injunctive relief under § 1983.
plaintiffs also seek attorney's fees under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1988 and 28 U.S.C. § 2412. However, under §
1988, “in any action brought against a judicial officer
for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial
capacity such officer shall not be held liable for costs,
including attorney's fees, unless such action was clearly
in excess of such officer's jurisdiction.” 42
U.S.C. § 1988. The plaintiffs have not alleged that
Judge Isaacs acted in excess of his jurisdiction.
Additionally, 28 U.S.C. § 2412 applies to actions
against the United States or any agency or official of the
United States and is not applicable in this
case.[1" name="FN1" id=
"FN1">1] Accordingly, the plaintiffs' claim for
attorney's fees is equally lacking in merit.
on the foregoing, it is hereby
Plaintiff Christian's motion for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis [Record No. 2] is GRANTED.
plaintiffs' claims are DISMISSED.
action is DISMISSED and STRICKEN from ...