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Francisco of family Santos v. Essex County

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

August 5, 2019

FRANCISCO OF THE FAMILY SANTOS, Plaintiff,
v.
ESSEX COUNTY et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          Indira Talwani United States District Judge

         Pro se Plaintiff Francisco Santos has filed a Complaint [#2] against Essex County, the Child Support Enforcement Division, and three individuals in which he complains that his income was and is being unlawfully seized. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss this action.

         I. Background

         In his brief statement of his claim, Santos alleges: “I've lost my driving privileges several times and this has caused the loss of employment due to license suspensions. I was denied a passport. My bank accounts have been cleared several times without warning. I was falsely misled to contract with title IV-D agency.” Compl. at 5 (spelling standardized).[1] In his prayer for relief, Santos “demand[s] all contract[s] to be voided/dismissed with prejudice, all payments made to agency refunded.” Id. He further asks to have his “driving records cleared of all suspension, ” his driving privileges and passport “reinstated, ” and all fees to reinstate his license paid. Id. He states that brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“§ 1983”) and 18 U.S.C. §§ 241 and 242. Santos also filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis [#2].

         After commencing this action, Santos filed a Notice of Petition [for] Writ of Certiorari [#6] wherein he asks for “impartial judicial review of facts” showing that the defendants' seizure of his property was in violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment. Id. at 1. Santos asserts that his income is being unlawfully seized pursuant to “an administrative income withholding order, ” the issuer of which “is not a judge, but is a state run child support collection/enforcement agency that is within the executive branch of state government. Id. at 4 ¶ 2. He maintains that “the issuer of the income withholding order” he is challenging “is without judicial power to seize property because its administrative income withholding order is without legal force and a clear violation of the separation of powers doctrine.” Id.

         Santos also filed a Notice of Petition for Injunction [#5] in which asks that the Court enjoin the defendants from seizing his property “unless ordered by a warrant or judgment by peers in pursuance of due process.” Id. at 1-2.

         II. Discussion

         A. Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis

         Upon review of the Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis [#2], the Court concludes that Santos has adequately demonstrated that he is without income or assets to pay the filing fee. Accordingly, the motion is GRANTED.

         B. Review of the Complaint

         Because Santos is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court has conducted a preliminary review of his complaint. The Court may dismiss the action even before summonses have issued if the Court determines that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seeks monetary damages from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         The Court construes Santos's claims liberally because he is proceeding pro se. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). Thus, in determining the sufficiency of his claims, the Court will consider together the Complaint [#1] and the Notice of Petition [for] Writ of Certiorari [#6]. By taking into account the factual allegations in both documents, the Court understands that Santos is alleging that, per the administrative orders of the Child Support Enforcement Division, various adverse actions have been taken against him to collect funds that he is purportedly obliged to pay pursuant to an underlying child support order. These adverse actions include direct seizure of his assets through garnishment of his wages and seizure of funds from his bank accounts, and indirect coercive measurers, including suspension of his driver's license. Santos maintains that these adverse actions are unconstitutional in the absence of (1) a warrant; or (2) a judgment by a court of law after a jury trial.

         Even considered together, these pleadings fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The criminal statutes -- 18 U.S.C. §§ 241 and 242 -- do not provide a right of action in a civil case. See Cok v. Cosentino, 876 F.2d 1, 2 (1st Cir. 1989) (“Only the United States as a prosecutor can bring a complaint under 18 U.S.C. §§ 241-242.”).

         Santos's claims 42 U.S.C. § 1983 also fail. To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must assert that a “person” acting under color of state law deprived him of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. A state (including its agencies and departments) is not a “person” within the meaning of § 1983. See Will v. Michigan Dep't. of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). The Child Support Enforcement Division is an agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. See M.G.L. ch. 119A, ยง 1. The government of Essex County was abolished in 1999. See ...


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