United States District Court, D. Maryland
February 12, 2014
ROBERT G. MOORE, 402576
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al.
JAMES K. BREDAR, District Judge.
In this action titled as a "maritime tort claim, " Robert G. Moore ("Moore"), an inmate housed in the Maryland Division of Correction, alleges that Maryland was without jurisdiction to prosecute him at his state court criminal proceedings. Moore names a number of state court judges, criminal prosecutors, and attorneys as parties. ECF No. 1.
The language used in the complaint is consistent with the "flesh and blood' or the sovereign man defense'" colloquially named for the distinction professed by adherents between the accused named in the indictment and the "flesh and blood" person of the defendant himself. These arguments are not novel in this court. See, e.g., United States v. Mitchell, 405 F.Supp.2d 602, 603-05 (D. Md. 2005) (discussing the origin and characteristics of these beliefs). Because he appears indigent, Moore's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis shall be granted. To the extent that Moore is attacking his ongoing criminal case, his action is construed as containing habeas corpus claims under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.
A district court will generally not intervene in ongoing state court criminal matters until the state judicial remedies available to a petitioner have been fully exhausted. See Huffman v. Pursue, Ltd., 420 U.S. 592, 609-10 (1975). Moreover, for a federal court to exercise its habeas corpus power to stop state criminal proceedings, "special circumstances" must exist. See Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit, 410 U.S. 484, 489 (1973); Dolack v. Allenbrand, 548 F.2d 891, 893 (10th Cir. 1977). Such extraordinary circumstances include bad faith prosecution; prosecution under patently unconstitutional statutes; or prosecution before a biased state tribunal. See Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971); Moore v. Sims, 442 U.S. 415 (1979). None of those special circumstances exists here. Moore has not exhausted his state court remedies. Further, assuming, without deciding, that he has raised viable claims under the United States Constitution, his allegations do not raise substantive grounds for federal court intervention in his pending state appeal by means of a § 2241 habeas petition. See, e.g., Dickerson v. Louisiana, 816 F.2d 220, 226 (5th Cir. 1987). The merits of the habeas petition shall not be considered by this court.
To the extent Moore intended to file a tort action his case is also subject to dismissal. A court is not obliged to ferret through a complaint, searching for viable claims. The instant complaint "places an unjustifiable burden on defendants to determine the nature of the claim against them and to speculate on what their defenses might be" and imposes a burden on the court to sort out the factual basis of any claims fairly raised, making dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 appropriate. Holsey v. Collins, 90 F.R.D. 122 (D. Md. 1981); see also Spencer v. Hedges, 838 F.2d 1210 (Table), 1988 WL 9621, at *1 (4th Cir. 1988) (unpublished). Although district courts have a duty to construe self-represented pleadings liberally, Moore must nevertheless allege facts that state a cause of action. See Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985) (duty to construe liberally does not require courts to conjure up questions never squarely presented).
The instant complaint does not comply with the requirements of Rule 8(a)(2) which requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, " and Rule 8(e)(1), which requires that each averment of a pleading be "simple, concise, and direct." A pleading must give the court and defendants "02bbfair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). A court may dismiss a complaint that is "so confused, ambiguous, vague or otherwise unintelligible that its true substance, if any, is well disguised." Salahuddin v. Cuomo, 861 F.2d 40, 42 (2d Cir. 1988). Here, the complaint is not a "short and plain statement, " nor is it "concise and direct." The bizarre legal analysis and legal conclusions render the complaint incomprehensible. It does not provide this court or any potential defendants "fair notice" of the claims and facts upon which they are based. In light of the foregoing, this case shall be dismissed. A separate Order follows.