United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
CAROLYN K. DELANEY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is proceeding in this action pro se. Plaintiff has requested
authority pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 to proceed in
forma pauperis. This proceeding was referred to this court by
Local Rule 302(c)(21).
has submitted the affidavit required by § 1915(a)
showing that plaintiff is unable to prepay fees and costs or
give security for them. Accordingly, the request to proceed
in forma pauperis will be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a).
federal in forma pauperis statute authorizes federal courts
to dismiss a case if the action is legally “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. 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2). A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an
arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v.
Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The
court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous where it
is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where
the factual contentions are clearly baseless.
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327.
order to avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim a
complaint must contain more than “naked assertions,
” “labels and conclusions” or “a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555-557 (2007). In other words, “[t]hreadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements do not suffice.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).
Furthermore, a claim upon which the court can grant relief
has facial plausibility. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.
When considering whether a complaint states a claim upon
which relief can be granted, the court must accept the
allegations as true, Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct.
2197, 2200 (2007), and construe the complaint in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff, see Scheuer v.
Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).
plaintiff’s complaint is brief, it is apparent that
plaintiff challenges orders issued by state court judges
relating to the custody of plaintiff’s children. A
federal district court does not have jurisdiction to review
errors in state court decisions in civil cases. Dist. of
Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 476
(1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413,
415 (1923). “The district court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction either to conduct a direct review of a state
court judgment or to scrutinize the state court’s
application of various rules and procedures pertaining to the
state case.” Samuel v. Michaud, 980 F.Supp.
1381, 1411-12 (D. Idaho 1996), aff’d, 129 F.3d
127 (9th Cir. 1997). See also Branson v. Nott, 62
F.3d 287, 291-92 (9th Cir.1995) (finding no subject matter
jurisdiction over section 1983 claim seeking, inter
alia, implicit reversal of state trial court action);
MacKay v. Pfeil, 827 F.2d 540, 544-45 (9th Cir.
1987) (attacking state court judgment because substantive
defense improper under Rooker-Feldman). That the
federal district court action alleges the state court’s
action was unconstitutional does not change the rule.
Feldman, 460 U.S. at 486. Moreover, claims raised in
federal district court need not have been argued in the state
judicial proceedings to be barred by the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Id. at 483-84
& n.16. If federal claims are “inextricably
intertwined” with a state court judgment, the federal
court may not hear them. Id. “[T]he federal
claim is ‘inextricably intertwined’ with the
state court judgment if the federal claim succeeds only to
the extent that the state court wrongly decided the issues
before it.” Pennzoil Co. v. Texaco, Inc., 481
U.S. 1, 25 (1987) (Marshall, J., concurring). In sum,
“a state court’s application of its rules and
procedures is unreviewable by a federal district court. The
federal district court only has jurisdiction to hear general
challenges to state rules or claims that are based on the
investigation of a new case arising upon new facts.”
Samuel, 980 F.Supp. at 1412-13.
does not raise a general federal challenge to state law.
See Branson, 62 F.3d at 292. Stripped to its
essence, this action is one for federal court review of state
court proceedings. The court finds the instant action amounts
to an attempt to litigate in federal court matters that are
inextricably intertwined with state court decisions. The
court will therefore recommend this action be dismissed for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction under
has also requested the appointment of counsel. The United
States Supreme Court has ruled that district courts lack
authority to require counsel to represent indigent prisoners
in § 1983 cases. Mallard v. United States Dist.
Court, 490 U.S. 296, 298 (1989). In certain exceptional
circumstances, the court may request the voluntary assistance
of counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1).
Terrell v. Brewer, 935 F.2d 1015, 1017 (9th Cir.
1991); Wood v. Housewright, 900 F.2d 1332, 1335-36
(9th Cir. 1990). In the present case, the court does not find
the required exceptional circumstances. Plaintiffs request
for the appointment of counsel will therefore be denied.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
1. Plaintiffs request to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No.
2) is granted;
2. Plaintiffs request for appointment of counsel (ECF No. 3)
is denied; and
HEREBY RECOMMENDED that this action be dismissed for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction.
findings and recommendations are submitted to the United
States District Judge assigned to the case, pursuant to the
provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(l). Within fourteen
days after being served with these findings and
recommendations, any party may file written objections with
the court and serve a copy on all parties. Such a document
should be captioned “Objections to Magistrate
Judge’s Findings and Recommendations.” Failure to
file objections ...