United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
OWEN BOWDRE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
magistrate judge filed a report and recommendation on July
21, 2017, recommending that the court dismiss this action
without prejudice for failing to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
(Doc. 16). The court received the plaintiff's objections
on August 3, 2017. (Doc. 17).
plaintiff filed this action because he believes he was
unfairly and unconstitutionally prosecuted in state court.
(Doc. 1). In response to the report and recommendation of the
magistrate judge, the plaintiff asserts by way of objections
that this court should (1) remove defendants Judge Bud
Turner, District Attorney Brian McVeigh, and Assistant
District Attorney Sheila Field from office; (2) instruct the
state court how to rule; (3) enforce the arbitration clause
in the contract between the plaintiff and the state court
victim; (4) recognize that he was maliciously prosecuted in
state court; and (5) take jurisdiction of the state court
criminal action. (Doc. 17 at 4-10). This court lacks
jurisdiction to provide any of the requested relief.
plaintiff first asserts that the court has the Ajurisdiction
and duty" to remove defendants Judge Turner, District
Attorney McVeigh, and Assistant District Attorney Field.
(Doc. 17 at 4). Federal courts are courts of limited
jurisdiction and possess only that power authorized by the
Constitution and federal statutes. See, e.g., Delaware v.
Van Arsdall, 475 U.S. 673, 692 (1986). This court has no
authority to remove the named elected state-court officials
from office. Rather, in Alabama, the removal of judges must
be initiated by the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission.
See e.g., Moore v. Judicial Inquiry Com'n of State of
Ala., 891 So.2d 848, 854 (Ala. 2004). Attorneys,
including District Attorneys and their staffs, are governed
by the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct, as administered
through the disciplinary processes of the Alabama State Bar.
See e.g., Ex parte Lawhorn, 581 So.2d 1179, 1181
(Ala. 1991) (citing Brooks v. Alabama State Bar, 574
So.2d 33 (Ala. 1990)). This court is not the forum for
challenging their professional conduct.
both state-court judges and district attorneys are wholly
immune from actions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that
challenge the rulings of judges or the prosecutorial
decisions made by district attorneys and their
staffs. Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349,
356-57, 362 (1978) (judges' immunity); Buckley v.
Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 273 (1993) (prosecutors'
immunity). The plaintiff is entitled to no relief on his
claim that this court has the jurisdiction and the duty to
remove these individuals from office.
such limitation on jurisdiction is that this court may not
review state court judgments. That authority resides solely
in the United States Supreme Court. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1257; Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic
Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 292 (2005). Section 1983
does not provide an alternative vehicle to obtain federal
review of a state-court criminal judgment. Sibley v.
Lando, 437 F.3d 1067, 1070 (11th Cir. 2005); Jones
v. Crosby, 137 F.3d 1279, 1280 (11th Cir. 1989). The
Rooker-Feldman doctrine applies in cases precisely
like this one, where the only means by which the plaintiff
may prevail would require this court to determine that the
state court wrongly decided the issues before it. Federal
district courts have no jurisdiction to enter “a
holding that the state court was wrong.” Bell v.
Sykes, Fed.App'x, 2017 WL 957185, * 1 (11th Cir.
Mar. 13, 2017) (citing Alvarez v. Att'y Gen.,
679 F.3d 1257, 1262 (11th Cir. 2012).
plaintiff seeks to have this court both rule that his state
court prosecution was wrongful and instruct the state court
on how it should rule. (Doc. 17 at 5-6). Such relief is
squarely within that prohibited by the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine and various other
limitations on federal court jurisdiction. The fact that the
plaintiff believes his state court prosecution is malicious
or unlawful does not provide a basis for a federal district
court to inquire into the merits of the state-court actions.
See e.g., Uboh v. Reno, 141 F.3d 1000, 1006 (11th
Cir. 1986). The plaintiff's assertion that the abstention
doctrine does not bar this court's “authority over
public officials who violate the people's rights under
the constitution and laws of the United States” (doc.
17 at 5) does not change this analysis. This court lacks
jurisdiction in this action to tell state court officials how
to rule or whom to prosecute.
plaintiff next asserts that he was criminally prosecuted for
what was really a contract dispute that should have been
brought as a civil action, and that his 99-year sentence is
proof that he was maliciously prosecuted. (Doc. 17 at 6-9).
However, a claim of malicious prosecution does not accrue
until the criminal proceedings have been favorably terminated
in the plaintiff's favor, which has not occurred here.
See Wood v. Kessler, 323 F.3d 872, 882 (11th Cir.
2003). Whether or not the state-court criminal action was
wrongfully instituted is not a question this court may
consider. The Alabama appellate courts provide the plaintiff
with the opportunity to raise just such a claim. Until the
plaintiff pursues and prevails on the merits of the state
court action against him, this court may not consider the
merits of his malicious prosecution claim. See Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486 (1994) (“civil tort
actions are not appropriate vehicles for challenging the
validity of outstanding criminal judgments.”);
Abella v. Rubino, 63 F.3d 1063, 1064-65 (11th Cir.
1995) (plaintiff's argument that defendants
“knowingly and willfully conspired to convict him
falsely by fabricating testimony and other evidence against
him” was barred under Heck because
“[j]udgment in favor of Abella on these claims would
necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction.”).
the same path, he argues that an arbitration clause in a
contract between the alleged crime victim and plaintiff's
employer should be binding to require resolution of his
dispute with the victim in arbitration, rather than through a
criminal prosecution. A contractual arbitration provision
simply does not have any effect on a state's decision
whether to criminally prosecute someone for actions related
to the subject of the contract. While it may limit civil
remedies, it has no limitation on criminal prosecutions.
the plaintiff suggests that this court should exercise its
jurisdiction under Article I, Section 10 of the United States
Constitution, and move the state-court criminal action to
this court. (Doc. 17 at 10). Article I of the Constitution
sets forth the powers and limitations of the U.S. Congress.
It does not provide any authority for this court to exercise
jurisdiction over a state-court criminal action. Federal
courts have original jurisdiction, exclusive of the courts of
the States, of all offenses against the laws of the United
States. Hugi v. United States, 164 F.3d 378, 380
(7th Cir. 1999) (Subject-matter jurisdiction in every federal
criminal prosecution comes from 18 U.S.C. § 3231);
see also Alikhani v. United States, 200 F.3d 732,
734 (11th Cir. 2000). The opposite also holds true-federal
courts lack jurisdiction over a criminal case where the crime
is not within Title 18 of the United States Code or another
statute defining federal crimes. See e.g., U.S. v.
Gonzalez, 311 F.3d 440, 442 (1st Cir. 2002). This court
lacks authority to simply exert jurisdiction over a state
carefully reviewed and considered de novo all the materials
in the court file, including the report and recommendation
and the plaintiffs objections, the plaintiffs objections are
OVERRULED. The magistrate judge's report is hereby
ADOPTED and the recommendation is ACCEPTED. Therefore, in
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), this action is due
to be dismissed without prejudice for failing to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted.
court will enter a separate Final Order.