United States District Court, D. Maine
JOSEPH J. NUGENT, III, Plaintiff
STATE OF MAINE, Defendant
RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER SCREENING COMPLAINT
PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)
C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge
action, Plaintiff Joseph J. Nugent, III, alleges that the
Defendant State of Maine, acting through a district attorney,
state court judges, court-appointed counsel, and others
violated his civil rights in connection with a 2006
prosecution and conviction for assault, which conviction is
evidently the basis for current or recent proceedings
involving a state court bail violation.
filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis
(ECF No. 3), which application the Court granted (ECF No. 8).
In accordance with the in forma pauperis statute, a
preliminary review of Plaintiff's complaint is
appropriate. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Following a review
of the pleadings, I recommend the Court dismiss
party is proceeding in forma pauperis, “the
court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court
determines, ” inter alia, that the action is
“frivolous or malicious” or “fails to state
a claim on which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B). “Dismissals [under § 1915]
are often made sua sponte prior to the issuance of
process, so as to spare prospective defendants the
inconvenience and expense of answering such
complaints.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 324 (1989).
considering whether a complaint states a claim for which
relief may be granted, courts must assume the truth of all
well-plead facts and give the plaintiff the benefit of all
reasonable inferences therefrom. Ocasio-Hernandez v.
Fortuno-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011). A
complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can 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). “The relevant question ... in assessing
plausibility is not whether the complaint makes any
particular factual allegations but, rather, whether
‘the complaint warrant[s] dismissal because it failed
in toto to render plaintiffs' entitlement to
relief plausible.'” Rodríguez- Reyes v.
Molina-Rodríguez, 711 F.3d 49, 55 (1st Cir. 2013)
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 569 n. 14). Although a
pro se plaintiff's complaint is subject to “less
stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers,
” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972),
the complaint may not consist entirely of “conclusory
allegations that merely parrot the relevant legal standard,
” Young v. Wells Fargo, N.A., 717 F.3d 224,
231 (1st Cir. 2013). See also Ferranti v. Moran, 618
F.2d 888, 890 (1st Cir. 1980) (explaining that the liberal
standard applied to the pleadings of pro se plaintiffs
“is not to say that pro se plaintiffs are not required
to plead basic facts sufficient to state a claim”).
to Plaintiff, through the combined actions or omissions of
the district attorney, state court judges, and multiple
court-appointed attorneys, Defendant denied him of certain
constitutional rights, including his right to counsel, in
connection with an assault charge for which he was convicted.
(Complaint at 1 - 3.) On Plaintiff's appeal from the
assault conviction, the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine
affirmed the conviction, but vacated the sentence and
remanded the case for resentencing. State v. Nugent,
2007 ME 44, 917 A.2d 127, 128.
requests multiple forms of injunctive relief. In particular,
Plaintiff asks the Court to order the creation of a true
record of his assault trial, direct the state courts to order
the state court to appoint new counsel, quash certain arrest
warrants, overturn the assault conviction, and conduct a
grand jury investigation into the actions of all public
officials identified in the complaint. (Id. at 6 -
has named the State of Maine as the Defendant. Although
Plaintiff requests injunctive relief, the State of Maine has
immunity under the Eleventh Amendment against suits brought
by citizens in federal court, regardless of the form of
relief requested. Poirier v. Mass. Dep't of
Corr., 558 F.3d 92, 97 n. 6 (1st Cir. 2009) (“A
plaintiff may seek prospective injunctive relief against a
state official, but may not obtain such relief against a
state or its agency because of the sovereign immunity bar of
the Eleventh Amendment.”). Plaintiff, therefore, cannot
pursue a claim in this Court against the State of Maine.
arguendo, that Plaintiff also intends to pursue a
claim against the individuals named in his complaint, a
federal district court would have jurisdiction under the
Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, over claims against
persons exercising state authority. The Court, however does not
have jurisdiction to review the final judgments and decisions
of state courts. See Lance v. Dennis, 546 U.S. 459,
460 (2006) (per curiam) (“The Rooker-Feldman
doctrine prevents the lower federal courts from exercising
jurisdiction over cases brought by ‘state-court
losers' challenging ‘state-court judgments rendered
before the district court proceedings commenced.'”
(quoting Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus.
Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284, (2005))); Silva v.
Massachusetts, 351 Fed. App'x 450, 454 (1st Cir.
2009) (“28 U.S.C. § 1257 vests the United States
Supreme Court with exclusive ‘jurisdiction over appeals
from final state-court judgments.'” (quoting
Lance, 546 U.S. at 463)).
Plaintiff clearly asks the Court to review the state court
proceedings and to overrule decisions of the state court.
Simply stated, this Court thus ...