United States District Court, D. Maine
RECOMMENDED DECISION AFTER SCREENING COMPLAINTS
PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(E)
C. NIVISON, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
of the above-captioned actions, Plaintiff Daniel Morrill
challenges the constitutionality of the statutes pursuant to
which the Maine state court imposed certain restrictions on
him in the context of protection from abuse proceedings
initiated by Defendant Heather Skolfield, which restrictions
include a prohibition on Plaintiff's ability to possess a
firearm and a limitation on his ability to file further
actions against Defendant Skolfield. Plaintiff also seeks
injunctive relief to prevent the Maine Attorney General and
Commissioner of Public Safety, also named as defendants, from
enforcing the restrictions.
addition to his complaints, in each case, Plaintiff filed an
application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 4), an ex
parte motion for leave to file his complaint (ECF Nos. 5/6),
an ex parte motion for a temporary restraining order. (ECF
Nos. 6/7.) The Court granted Plaintiff's motions to
proceed in forma pauperis. (Order, ECF Nos. 7/8.) Plaintiff
also filed a motion to combine federal cases, which motion is
docketed in case number 18-213. (ECF No. 5.) In accordance
with the in forma pauperis statute, a preliminary review of
Plaintiff's complaints is appropriate. 28 U.S.C. §
a review of Plaintiff's complaints, I recommend the Court
dismiss Plaintiff's complaints, and moot the motions for
leave to file complaint, the motions for temporary
restraining order, and the motion to combine federal cases.
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
addition to stating a plausible claim, Plaintiff must assert
a claim within the Court's subject matter jurisdiction.
“Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.
They cannot act in the absence of subject matter
jurisdiction, and they have a sua sponte duty to confirm the
existence of jurisdiction in the face of apparent
jurisdictional defects.” United States v. Univ. of
Mass., Worcester, 812 F.3d 35, 44 (1st Cir. 2016).
November 2012, Defendant Skolfield filed a complaint for
protection from abuse against Plaintiff. Following a final
hearing in January 2013, the Maine District Court found
Plaintiff had stalked Defendant Skolfield, and imposed a
two-year protective order that included a prohibition on the
possession of firearms. (Complaint ¶¶ 9 - 18, ECF
No. 1; Order, ECF No. 1-2)
April 2015, Defendant Skolfield filed another complaint
against Plaintiff for protection from abuse. The state court
again entered a two-year protective order based on a finding
that Plaintiff had stalked Defendant Skolfield; the court
prohibited Plaintiff from possessing firearms. (Id.
¶¶ 25 - 35; Order, ECF No. 1-8.) In December 2015,
the court modified the protective order to prohibit Plaintiff
from initiating legal proceedings against Defendant Skolfield
in any court in the State of Maine, without prior court
approval. (Complaint ¶¶ 38 - 39; Orders, ECF Nos.
2016, Defendant Pine Tree Legal Assistance entered an
appearance for Defendant Skolfield, and filed a motion to
extend the protective order. (Complaint ¶¶ 42 -
43.) In the proceeding, Plaintiff filed a motion to remove
the prohibition against possession of firearms on the ground
that he and Defendant Skolfield were never in a domestic
relationship described under 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(32) or
19-A M.R.S. § 4002. (Id. ¶ 44.) On May 15,
2017, following a hearing, the court found that Plaintiff had
stalked Defendant Skolfield for 20 years, and extended the
order and the existing prohibitions for a period of ten
years. (Id. ¶¶ 53, 54, 58, 59; Hearing
Transcript, ECF No. 1-14 at 67-68; Order, 1-15.) Plaintiff
appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court (“Law
Court”); the Law Court affirmed the District
Court's order. (Complaint ¶¶ 63 - 64; Mem. Dec.
dated March 6, 2018, ECF No. 1-17.)
more recent complaint repeats most of the background factual
allegations found in his prior complaint. Plaintiff further
notes that on May 16, 2018, the Law Court denied ...