United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
ALLISON CLAIRE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
is proceeding in this action pro se. This matter was
accordingly referred to the undersigned by E.D. Cal.
302(c)(21). Plaintiff has filed a request for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”), and has
submitted the affidavit required by that statute.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). The motion to
proceed IFP (ECF No. 2) will therefore be granted.
federal IFP statute requires 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). In reviewing a complaint under this
standard, the court will (1) accept as true all of the
factual allegations contained in the complaint, unless they
are clearly baseless or fanciful, (2) construe those
allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and
(3) resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor. See
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327; Von Saher v. Norton Simon
Museum of Art at Pasadena, 592 F.3d 954, 960 (9th Cir.
2010), cert. denied, 564 U.S. 1037 (2011).
court applies the same rules of construction in determining
whether the complaint states a claim on which relief can be
granted. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)
(court must accept the allegations as true); Scheuer v.
Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974) (court must construe
the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff).
Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than
those drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519, 520 (1972). However, the court need not accept as true
conclusory allegations, unreasonable inferences, or
unwarranted deductions of fact. Western Mining Council v.
Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981). A formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action does not
suffice to state a claim. Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007); Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
state a claim on which relief may be granted, the plaintiff
must allege enough facts “to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” 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, 556 U.S.
at 678. A pro se litigant is entitled to notice of the
deficiencies in the complaint and an opportunity to amend,
unless the complaint's deficiencies could not be cured by
amendment. See Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448
(9th Cir. 1987), superseded on other grounds by statute as
stated in Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122 (9th
Cir.2000)) (en banc).
brings suit against “court of equity/common law”
for “compensation when the government take & use
your property, Extrinsic Fraud & Failed to Notify Party
of hearing & Fraud upon the court.” ECF No. 1 at
1-2. Plaintiff checks a box for “federal
question” as the basis for jurisdiction but does not
identify any federal law or constitutional violation as the
basis for jurisdiction. Id. at 4. Plaintiff's
statement of claim is incoherent, but references extrinsic
fraud within the court system, a change of jurisdiction to
another state, removal of files from a case, and failure to
notify a party to keep away during hearings. Id. at
5. As to damages, plaintiff alleges: “It's left my
son and me with a missing bond we are not family. The art of
being a mother and he my son the mental stress and waiting to
find out what happen. And who, because it was people on the
inside working in their favor not ours.” Id.
at 6. Plaintiff seeks one million dollars for each of the 12
years her son was kept from her. Id.
complaint must be dismissed for two fundamental reasons: it
fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and
it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. Although plaintiff's complaint against
“the court of law/equity” contains no factual
allegations, it is apparent from plaintiff's request for
relief that she is (1) suing the state court system or a
judge within that system, and (2) that her suit is based on a
custody decision in which her she apparently lost custody of
her son. ECF No. 1 at 6.
extent plaintiff is attempting to sue a judge for a decision
regarding custody of her son, she cannot do so because judges
are immune from suit. “Like other forms of official
immunity, judicial immunity is an immunity from suit, not
just from ultimate assessment of damages.” Mireles
v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11 (1991). Judicial immunity is
overcome only when a judge's actions are either (1)
nonjudicial in nature, i.e., not taken in the judge's
judicial capacity, Forrester v. White, 484 U.S. 219,
227-29 (1988), or (2) taken in the complete absence of all
jurisdiction, Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349,
356-57 (1991). Plaintiff does not make any allegations that
indicate one of these exceptions is met. To the contrary,
plaintiff's complaint is about a custody decision. ECF
No. 1 at 6. Accordingly, to the extent plaintiff is
attempting to sue a judge on the court of law/equity, her
claims are barred. To the extent plaintiff intends to sue the
actual court in which the custody decision at issue was made,
a court cannot be civilly liable for the actions of its
judges under any theory of which this court is aware. To the
extent plaintiff intends to sue the California state
judiciary or any of its departments or officers, the Eleventh
Amendment would bar the claims. See Simmons v. Sacramento
County Superior Court, 318 F.3d 1156, 1161 (9th Cir.
under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, a federal
district court does not have subject-matter jurisdiction to
hear an appeal from the judgment of a state court. Exxon
Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280,
283-84 (2005); see also 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
Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars jurisdiction in federal
district court if the exact claims raised in a state court
case are raised in the subsequent federal case, or if the
constitutional claims presented to the district court are
“inextricably intertwined” with the state
court's denial of relief. Bianchi v. Rylaarsdam,
334 F.3d 895, 898-99 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting
Feldman, 460 U.S. at 483 n. 16).
Rooker-Feldman thus bars federal adjudication of any
suit whether a plaintiff alleges an injury based on a state
court judgment or directly appeals a state court's
decision. Id. at 900 n.4. This bar prevents the
court from considering plaintiff's claims that result
from the state court's child custody decisions.
claims are absolutely barred, and she cannot state a claim in
federal court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Because of this,
amendment would be futile. Noll, 809 F.2d at 1448.
For these reasons, the complaint should be dismissed without
leave to amend.