United States District Court, D. Maryland
THEODORE D. CHUANG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
March 15, 2016, Plaintiff Michelle Bourdelais filed a Notice
of Removal along with a Motion for Leave to Proceed in
Forma Pauperis. On March 29, 2016, Bourdelais filed an
Amended Notice of Removal. Bourdelais asserts that she has
removed various state court proceedings relating to Judge
Lawrence V. Hill, Jr. of the Circuit Court for Prince
George's County, Maryland to this Court pursuant to a
variety of statutes, including 18 U.S.C. § 1346, 28
U.S.C. §§ 1441, 1443, 1446, and 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1983, 1985, 1986. In addition, presently pending
before the Court are Bourdelais's Motion to Shorten Time
on Signing Summons, Motion to File Electronically, Motion for
Clarification, and Motion to Include Supplemental Exhibits.
Bourdelais has now paid the filing fee, thus rendering the
pending Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma
Pauperis moot. For the reasons set forth below, the
Court dismisses the case for lack of subject matter
preliminary matter, although Bourdelais filed a document
entitled "Notice of Removal, " any such removal
would be improper. Bourdelais has not filed the pleadings
from the state court proceedings that she seeks to remove to
this court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1446(a) (requiring
filing with the notice of removal of "a copy of all
process, pleadings, and orders served upon such defendant or
defendants in such action"). The only references to
state court proceedings contained in her Amended Notice of
Removal appear in certain attachments, which refer to two
different cases: Bourdelais v. Durniak, No.
18-C-l3-000260 (St. Mary's Cty. Cir. Ct. Feb. 22, 2013)
and Bourdelais v. Durniak, No.
C-02-FM-15-00480.In addition, according to the Maryland
Judiciary Case Search website, Bourdelais has sued Defendant
John Durniak in three state court cases: Bourdelais v.
Durniak, No. 6Q00061599 (St. Mary's Cty. Dist. Ct.
Feb. 5, 2016); Bourdelais v. Durniak, No.
C-02-FM-16-000411 (Anne Arundel Cty. Cir. Ct. Feb. 4, 2016);
and Bourdelais v. Durniak, No. 18-C-13-000260 (St.
Mary's Cty. Cir. Ct. Feb. 22, 2013). See Maryland
Judiciary Case Search, Md. Courts,
None of the state court electronic records indicate that any
of these cases have been removed. Id. Finally, the
fact that Bourdelais is a plaintiff in each of the cases she
references in her Amended Notice of Removal indicates that
removal of any of these cases would be improper, as only a
defendant may remove an action brought in state court.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a); 28 U.S.C. § 1443.
Therefore, the Court construes the Amended Notice of Removal
as a new complaint.
of whether Bourdelais's Amended Notice of Removal is
construed as an improper removal of a state court proceeding
or a new federal court complaint, this Court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars federal
courts from reviewing state court judgments. Washington
v. Wilmore, 407 F.3d 274, 279 (4th Cir. 2005). "[A]
party losing in state court is barred from seeking what in
substance would be appellate review of the state judgment in
a United States district court, based on the losing
party's claim that the state judgment itself violates the
loser's federal rights." Johnson v. De
Grandy, 512 U.S. 997, 1005-06 (1994). If applicable, the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine prevents the Court from
exercising subject matter jurisdiction. See Exxon Mobil
Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 292
(2005). The Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars
consideration of "not only issues raised and decided in
the state courts, but also issues that are inextricably
intertwined with the issues that were before the state
court" when "success on the federal claim depends
upon a determination that the state court wrongly decided the
issues before it." Washington, 407 F.3d at 279
(internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
reviewing the Amended Notice of Removal, it is apparent that
Bourdelais is challenging decisions of the Circuit Court for
Prince George's County, Maryland involving custody and
visitation proceedings and is seeking to have this court
intervene in such matters. Throughout, she disputes the
Circuit Court's legal conclusions, orders, and decisions
to hold hearings. The relief Bourdelais seeks is "an
injunction to prevent the Prince George's County Circuit
Court from proceeding further." PL's Am. Notice
Removal at 10. Tellingly, Bourdelais asserts: "This
matter is filed in Federal Court after all other remedy has
been exhausted Id. at 4. The federal courts,
however, do not serve as a venue to which to appeal adverse
state court decisions. See Johnson, 512 U.S. at
to the extent that Bourdelais asserts any arguably new
federal claims, they are inextricably intertwined with the
issues in her state court proceedings. See
Washington, 407 F.3d at 279. Without explicitly setting
forth facts in support of a federal cause of action,
Bourdelais's Notice of Removal cites various federal
statutes, see 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981-86; 28
U.S.C. § 1339 (postal matters); 28 U.S.C. § 1343
(civil rights and elective franchise), as bases for
challenging the "prejudice' and misconduct of the
[Maryland] courts." Pl's Am. Notice Removal at 10.
As described in Bourdelais's Amended Notice of Removal,
however, such prejudice and misconduct arise from the legal
conclusions and orders of the Circuit Court, such as its
denial of Bourdelais's Motion to Quash, its issuance of a
"supervised visitation order, " its denial of
Bourdelais's Motion to Stay Pending the Appeal, and its
"sua sponte action compelling the Plaintiff to be in
court on the 15th day of April." Id. at 2-3,
10. Any federal claim would therefore require this Court to
review the state court's decisions. Under the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine, Bourdelais cannot invoke 42
U.S.C. § 1983 or other federal statutes in order to
require this Court to revisit and second-guess these orders
issued by the Circuit Court. Therefore, her Amended Notice of
Removal must be dismissed for lack of subject matter
it is hereby ORDERED that:
Bourdelais's Amended Notice of Removal, ECF No. 8,
construed as a complaint, is DISMISSED.
Bourdelais's Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma
Pauperis, ECF No. 3, Motion to Shorten Time, ECF No. 6,
Motion to File Electronically, ECF No. 11, Motion for
Clarification, ECF No. 12, and Motion to Include Supplemental
Exhibits, ECF No. 16, are DISMISSED AS MOOT.
Clerk is directed to mail a copy of this Order to Bourdelais;
the Clerk of the Circuit Court for Prince George's
County, Maryland at 14735 Main St., Upper Marlboro, Maryland
20772; Joseph R. Laumann, Esquire at 1160 Spa Road, Suite 3C,
Annapolis, Maryland; Joseph C. Capristo, Esquire at 23093
Three Notch Road, California, Maryland 20619; and Edmund
O'Meally, Esquire at Pessin Katz Law, P.A., 901 Dulaney
Valley Road, Suite 400, Towson, Maryland.
According to the Maryland Judiciary
Case Search website, of which this Court takes judicial
notice pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 201,
Bourdelais, No. 18-C-l3-000260, was transferred from
the Circuit Court for Saint Mary's County to the Circuit
Court for Prince George's County (Hill, J.) on December
17, 2015. See Maryland Judiciary Case Search, Md.
Bourdelais, No. C-02-FM-15-00480, does not appear in
Maryland Judiciary Case Search.
The Court notes that even if the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine did not bar Bourdelais's
claims, any claims against Judge Hill would be barred by
absolute judicial immunity. A state judge is absolutely
immune from § 1983 liability except when the judge acts
'in the clear absence of all jurisdiction."
Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356-57 (1978)
(articulating a broad immunity rule that a judge will not be
deprived of immunity because the ...