United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge
se plaintiff Christian Rosado (“Rosado”),
who is confined at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center,
brings this civil rights action in which he challenges his
classification as a member of a Security Threat Group
(“STG”). For the reasons set forth below, the
Court dismisses this action for lack of jurisdiction.
Court summarizes the most relevant allegations of the
complaint. (Dkt. #1). In November 2014, when Rosado was
confined at MCI Concord, prison staff conducted a search of
the dormitory in which he was housed. One of the officers
found a photograph among Rosado's personal property that
led him to believe that Rosado was part of an STG. No.
disciplinary report was issued at the time.
January 2015, Rosado was informed that an investigation was
being opened into his possible affiliation with an STG. On
February 6, 2015, Defendant Patrick T. Depalo, Jr.
(“Depalo”), the Chief of the Office of
Investigative Services for the Massachusetts Department of
Correction, held a hearing in which he accused Rosado of
being a member of the “Latin Kings” STG. Only
Rosado and Depalo were present at the hearing, and Rosado did
not have an opportunity to present witnesses or confront the
officer who had found the photo that purportedly showed that
Rosado was affiliated with an STG. Rosado vehemently denied
any involvement or affiliation with the Latin Kings group.
February 12, 2015, Depalo notified Rosado that he was being
designated as a member of the Latin Kings for security
classification purposes. Rosado appeal to the defendant Carol
O'Brian, the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department
of Correction, who rejected the appeal.
11, 2015, Rosado filed a civil action in Middlesex Superior
Court against Depalo and O'Brian in which he alleged,
inter alia, that the defendants' system of
validating him as an STG member violated his right to due
process under the Fourteenth Amendment and state law. See
Rosado v. Higgins- O'Brien, et al.,
1581CV02941 (Middlesex Superior Court, Mass.).The state court
granted the defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, finding that
Rosado's “due process claim must fail because his
liberty interest was not infringed by his designation as a
[sic] STG.” Dkt. 1-1 at 5. The Appeals Court of
Massachusetts affirmed, reiterating that “[t]he
decision to designate the plaintiff as a member of an STG
does not . . . implicate a liberty interest arising from the
due process clause.” Rosado v. Comm'r of
Corr., 91 Mass.App.Ct. 547, 552 (2017). On March 2,
2018, the Supreme Judicial Court denied Rosado's
application for further appellate review. See Rosado v.
Comm'r of Corr., 479 Mass. 1103 (2018).
present complaint, Rosado contends that the state trial and
appellate courts failed to apply federal law properly. He
further states that “[i]ndependent review is needed to
correct the wrong practices and the vague security threat
group proceeding with Defendant Patrick T. Depalo.”
Compl. ¶ 39.
28 U.S.C. § 1915A, prisoner complaints in civil actions
that seek redress from a governmental entity or officers or
employees of a governmental entity are subject to a
preliminary screening. See 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(b). Further, a court has an obligation to inquire into
its own subject matter jurisdiction, see McCulloch v.
Velez, 364 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2004), and “[i]f
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 Rosado's complaint because he is
proceeding pro se. See Haines v. Kerner,
404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).
28 U.S.C. § 1257, the Supreme Court of the United States
is the only federal court with jurisdiction to review a state
court judgment. See 28 U.S.C. § 1257; see
also Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544
U.S. 280, 292 (2005). Thus, under the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine,  28 U.S.C. § 1257 prohibits a district
court from exercising subject matter jurisdiction over an
action brought by a party who lost in state court and who is
“seeking review and rejection of that judgment”
in a lower federal court. Exxon Mobile, 544 U.S. at
291; see also id. at 292 (“The
Rooker-Feldman doctrine merely recognizes that 28
U.S.C. § 1331 is a grant of original jurisdiction, and
does not authorize district courts to exercise appellate
jurisdiction over state-court judgments, which Congress has
reserved to this Court, see § 1257(a).”
(quoting Verizon Md., Inc. v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n of
Md., 535 U.S. 635, 644 n.3 (2002))).
Rosado explicitly asks this Court to review and reject the
judgments of the state court. Under the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the Court lacks
jurisdiction to do so. “[T]he proper forum for
challenging an unlawful state court ruling is the United
States Supreme Court, on appeal of the highest state
court's final judgment.” Davison v. Gov't
of Puerto Rico-Puerto Rico Firefighters Corps, 471 F.3d
220, 223 (1st Cir. 2006).
this action is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE for lack of
jurisdiction. The motion for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis is denied as moot, and Rosado ...