United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
WILLIAM G. YOUNG DISTRICT JUDGE.
reasons stated below, the Court dismisses the complaint under
28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Neufville, now confined at the Bristol County Jail and House
of Correction, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of Rhode Island.
Plaintiff did not sign the complaint. He contends that his
due process rights were violated through his original
criminal conviction(s) and that his right to petition for
redress was denied by the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
Neufville asks this court to (1) order the Rhode Island
Superior Court to expunge plaintiff's unspecified Rhode
Island convictions, (2) order the Rhode Island Supreme Court
to address plaintiff's September 26, 2017 petition for
redress of grievances and November 29, 2017 petition for
further review; and (3) order a stay of deportation.
Plaintiff did not pay the filing fee or file a motion for
leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court is required to conduct a
prompt threshold review of prisoner complaints in civil
actions that seek redress from a governmental entity or
officers or employees of a governmental entity, and to
summarily dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious,
fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or that
seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. An action or claim is frivolous if “it lacks an
arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke
v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). An action fails
to state a claim on which relief may be granted if it does
not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Conversely, a
complaint is plausible on its face “when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). In general, where a complaint subject
to statutory screening can be remedied by amendment, a
district court should not dismiss the complaint with
prejudice, but should permit the amendment. Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 34 (1992).
the Court is obligated to inquire sua sponte into
its own subject matter jurisdiction. See McCulloch v.
Velez, 364 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2004). “If the
court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). In conducting this review, the Court
liberally construes the plaintiff's complaint because he
is proceeding pro se. See Haines v. Kerner,
404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).
plaintiff can pursue a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 to recover against state actors for constitutional
violations. See Rehberg v. Paulk, 566 U.S. 356, 361
(2012); Goldstein v. Galvin, 719 F.3d 16, 24 (1st
Cir. 2013). Thus, to state a claim for relief under §
1983, a plaintiff must establish, first, the violation of a
right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States and, second, that the alleged deprivation was
committed or caused by a person acting under color of state
law. Am. Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S.
40, 50-1 (1999).
the only named defendant is the State of Rhode Island, but
the State of Rhode island is not a suable entity under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Will v. Michigan Dep't of State
Police, 491 U.S. 58, 65-71 (1989) (explaining that
states and state agencies are not “persons” who
may be sued for constitutional violations under § 1983).
a plaintiff's Section 1983 damages claim must be
dismissed if "judgment in favor of the plaintiff would
necessarily imply the invalidity of [a criminal] conviction
or sentence" and if plaintiff cannot "demonstrate
that the conviction or sentence has already been
invalidated." Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477,
487 (1994); see also Thore v. Howe, 466 F.3d 173,
179 (1st Cir.2006). Here, plaintiff has not shown that his
conviction(s) have been reversed on direct appeal, expunged
by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal
authorized to make such determination, or called into
question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of
habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254. As such,
plaintiff's claims are barred by Heck.
plaintiff's claims are barred by two well-established
abstention doctrines. Under the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine, a federal district
court lacks jurisdiction over a final judgment of a state
court. See Geiger v. Foley Hoag LLP Retirement Plan,
521 F.3d 60, 65 (1st Cir. 2008). In other words, the doctrine
“bars parties who lost in state court from
‘seeking review and rejection of that judgment' in
federal court.'” Puerto Ricans for Puerto Rico
Party v. Dalmau, 544 F.3d 58, 68 (1st Cir. 2008)
(quoting Exxon Mobile Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus.
Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 291 (2005)); see also D.C. Ct.
of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983); Rooker
v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923). Here,
plaintiff seeks review and rejection of a state court
judgment on constitutional grounds. Such a challenge must be
pursued in the first instance in the state courts. Where the
judgment of the highest state court depends on a question of
federal law, the United States Supreme Court has jurisdiction
to review the judgment. See 28 U.S.C. § 1257.
extent plaintiff has motions pending in the Rhode Island
state courts, this Court will abstain from adjudicating those
claims that seek interference with ongoing appeals. Under
Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971) and its
progeny, federal courts must refrain from exercising their
jurisdiction where to do so would disrupt an ongoing state
judicial proceeding that implicates important state
interests. E.g. Rio Grande Community Health Center, Inc.
v. Rullan, 397 F.3d 56, 68 (1st Cir. 2005)
(“Younger abstention is mandatory if its
conditions are met.”). “If Younger
requires abstention, ‘there is no discretion to grant
injunctive relief.'” Colonial Life & Acc. Ins.
Co. v. Medley, 572 F.3d 22, 25 (1st Cir. 2009) (quoting
Colorado River Water Conservation Dist. V. United
States, 424 U.S. 800, 817 n. 22 (1976)).
this court lacks jurisdiction to issue a stay of removal. The
REAL ID Act of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-13, Div. B, 119 Stat.
231, 210-11 (“REAL ID Act”) (codified at 8 U.S.C.
§ 1952) divests federal district courts of jurisdiction
to review challenges to removal orders, and requires that
review of such orders be sought in the appropriate court of
appeals. Even when a district court has jurisdiction over a
habeas petition challenging an underlying state criminal
conviction, a petitioner in immigration detention must