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Jones v. State

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

June 30, 2015

STATE OF ALABAMA, et al., Defendants.


WILLIAM E. CASSADY, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Beverly Jo Jones, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action was referred to the undersigned for appropriate action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 72.2(c)(4). It is recommended that this action be dismissed without prejudice, prior to service of process, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) as the Court lacks jurisdiction over the claim under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.

I. Background and Complaint Allegations.

Plaintiff Jones is currently under a state order to avoid contact with attorney J. Jerry Pilgrim after being convicted of stalking Mr. Pilgrim in 2003. Attorney Pilgrim previously represented Ms. Jones in divorce proceedings around 1994, but withdrew as her attorney after she began to engage in a pattern of disturbing conduct. The evidence presented at Jones' jury trial showed that:

[Jones] would follow [Pilgrim] and his current wife as they jogged to the YMCA.... [S]he drove out of the parking lot across the street from the YMCA, hitting the middle of his wife's car.... [Jones] sent him items such as "feathers, dirt, grass, and worms in a Tupperware bowl."... [She]... would leave "paraphernalia and letters" next to [Pilgrim's assigned parking spot].... [She] filed six lawsuits against him in court; including a suit in federal court in which the pleading "didn't make sense"; a suit in Mobile District Court; a suit in Baldwin County seeking to have his marriage license annulled; and a small claims case claiming that the victim had stolen the last verse of her song written about Judge Roy Moore. After being ordered by the court not to have any contact with [Pilgrim], [Jones] continued to write him, stating that "Rule 33... does not seem too bad of a rule to break, " and "I feared I best just go ahead and use my get-into-jail-free statement."... [Jones] was committed to Searcy State Mental Hospital in 1995 or 1996, and discontinued writing letters to [Pilgrim] once she was placed on medication. When she left Searcy, however, she was no longer on medication and began to again write letters.... [S]he appeared in a courtroom in which [attorney Pilgrim] was trying a case, he had to be escorted to his office by two security employees to avoid what the building manager describes as a "potential disastrous conflict." [Pilgrim] testified that the appellant's conduct had a considerable effect of his well-being, and that he feared for his safety and that of his family.

Jones v. Albright, CA 09-0600-WS-C, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47260, *3-5 (S.D. Ala. April 15, 2010).[1] Jones was sentenced on January 23, 2004, to seven years imprisonment; she was ordered to serve eighteen (18) months in a jail-like facility with the remainder of the sentence suspended pending her successful completion of five years probation, and it was ordered that she have no contact with Pilgrim, his family, or his law office. Id. at *1-2. It is from this no contact order that the current action arises.

Jones filed numerous unsuccessful post-trial petitions and appeals in the state courts following her conviction. Id. at *2-13. Her stalking conviction and sentence became final by issuance of a certificate of judgment by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals on January 26, 2005.[2] Id. at 23. On April 2, 2008, she filed a pleading, titled "Motion to Set Aside "No-Contact" Order of Court" in the Circuit Court of Mobile County, Alabama, seeking to have the no-contact order modified arguing that since her release from prison she "avoided all places that could possibly cause her to come into contact with these who the court ordered to avoid...." (Mobile County Circuit Court Case No: CC-02-1927; Docket entry dated April 3, 2008). This motion was denied on April 16, 2008. ( See id. ).

On February 10, 2009, the trial court determined Jones had violated the conditions of her probation by violating the no-contact order, and following a commitment hearing, she was ordered to serve the remainder of her sentence. Jones v. Albright, CA 09-0600-WS-C, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47260, *13-14 (S.D. Ala. April 15, 2010). Following her probation violation, Jones filed a writ of habeas corpus and motions for rehearings in the state courts, but all were unsuccessful. Id. at *14-15. Additionally, Jones filed numerous petitions, complaints, and motions in federal court following her stalking conviction and probation violation which were found to be frivolous and a strain on judicial resources to the extent that she was sanctioned. On January 31, 2007, United States District Judge Charles R. Butler, Jr., issued an ordered prohibiting Plaintiff Jones "from filing any new actions without prior review and approval by the Court." (S.D. Ala. Case no.: 09-mc-1002, Doc. 1).

The current action before the Court was filed by Plaintiff Jones on December 14, 2013. (S.D. Ala Case No.: 09-mc-1002, Doc. 12-1). The complaint alleges that the no-contact order entered by the State of Alabama, through the Mobile County Circuit Court, violates her First Amendment rights because "[t]he order to never contact Pilgrim is impossible to keep, unjust, unreasonable and disrupts this federal court from making any progress for the interests of either party...." (Doc. 1 at 2). Upon review of the complaint, Chief Judge William H. Steele determined that: 1) "A no-contact order implicates First Amendment rights and can, under some circumstances, violate an individual's constitutional right to association, " 2) Such a claim falls within the federal courts' jurisdiction, 3) The " Rooker-Feldman doctrine " would bar such a federal claim if, "Ms. Jones had a reasonable opportunity to raise [her] federal claims in the state court proceedings." (Doc. 1-1 at 1-2) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). "The Court [was] unable to conclude from the document itself [whether or not] its jurisdiction [was] barred by Rooker-Feldman or any other principle, " and accepted the petition for docketing as a new civil rights action on February 13, 2014.[3] ( Id. at 2).

After being granted leave to proceed with her action in forma pauperis, Jones filed an amended complaint on March 7, 2014, naming Alabama Governor Robert J. Bentley and Attorney General for the State of Alabama, Luther Strange, as defendants and seeking injunctive relief from the Court from the state issued "no-contact" order. (Doc. 6 at 3). Subsequently, Plaintiff Jones filed her second and final amended complaint on August 12, 2014, seeking removal of the no contact order and alleging:

The respondents uphold a "no contact" order because Jones' contracted attorney, J. Jerry Pilgrim, filed Probate Court and Criminal Circuit Court actions against Plaintiff to secure "no contact" orders that fail to consider Jones' files that Pilgrim keeps of hers. [citing the work-product discovery doctrine and Hickman v. Taylor 329 U.S. 495 (1947).]
The respondents represent the State of Alabama that wrongfully obtained Jones' Gadsden home place which J. Jerry Pilgrim was contracted to protect: inasmuch, Jones is under obligation to inform him about Jones' estranged step-relatives the hospitalization of her only blood brother in Texas, the hospital in Denton, TX and it[s] unlawful practice in the HIPPA pass code laws.
The State of Alabama per criminal court actions in 2003 and 2009 in violation 42 [U.S.C.] § 1983 malicious prosecution did (1) prosecute for a criminal offense; (2) instigate without probable cause; (3) with malice; (4) under a valid warrant, accusation or summons; (5) which has terminated favorably to the respondents and (6) has damaged the petitioner.

(Doc. 8 at 2-3) (emphasis omitted). Because Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court is reviewing her amended complaint (Doc. ...

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