United States District Court, D. Maryland
K. Bredar United States District Judge
August 10, 2016, this court received for filing the above
captioned case, filed on a 28 U.S.C. § 2241 petition for
writ of habeas corpus form, from Joseph Purvey, who lists a
post office box address in Baltimore City. The
self-represented petition is difficult to decipher. Purvey
references a “fraud” committed upon him and a
case involving his “estrangement from his daughter that
has been forced by fraud.” ECF No. 1, p. 1-2. He
alleges that the Circuit Court of Baltimore City, its
officers, clerks, and staff have engaged in fraudulent
misconduct to cover their conspiracy to abduct his daughter.
He seemingly disputes the custody decisions made in his state
court case and asks that he be given custody of his daughter.
Id., p. 8. Purvey's petition is accompanied by a
motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. ECF No. 2. The
indigency request shall be granted. The petition shall,
however, be dismissed.
Purvey is proceeding as a self-represented litigant, the
court must liberally construe his allegations. See
e.g., Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007). Purvey's petition raises no direct challenge to a
state conviction or sentence. Rather, he seemingly disputes
judicial decisions rendered in a state custody proceeding.
Such issues have traditionally been reserved to the state or
municipal court systems with their expertise and professional
support staff. See Moore v. Sims, 442 U.S. 415, 435
(1979). Under the domestic relations exception to federal
jurisdiction, federal courts generally abstain from review of
such cases. See Ankenbrandt v. Richards,
504 U.S. 689, 701-05 (1992). It may be appropriate for the
federal courts to decline to hear a case involving elements
of the domestic relationship, even when divorce, alimony, or
child custody is not strictly at issue:
“This would be so when a case presents difficult
questions of state law bearing on policy problems of
substantial public import whose importance transcends the
result in the case then at bar. Such might well be the case
if a federal suit were filed prior to effectuation of a
divorce, alimony, or child custody decree, and the suit
depended on a determination of the status of the
Id. at 705-06 (quoting Colorado River Water
Conservation District v. United States, 424 U.S. 800,
conclusion is supported by sound policy considerations.
Issuance of decrees of this type not infrequently involves
retention of jurisdiction by the state court and deployment
of social workers to monitor compliance. As a matter of
judicial economy, state courts are eminently more suited to
work of this type than are federal courts, which lack the
close association with state and local government
organizations dedicated to handling issues that arise out of
conflicts over child custody and support decrees. Moreover,
as a matter of judicial expertise, it makes far more sense to
retain the rule that federal courts lack power over these
cases because of the special proficiency developed by state
tribunals over the past century and a half in handling issues
that arise in the granting of such decrees.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915,  the courts are required to screen a
plaintiff's complaint when in forma pauperis status has
been granted. The statute permits district courts to
independently assess the merits of in forma pauperis
complaints, and “to exclude suits that have no arguable
basis in law or fact.” See Nasim v. Warden, 64
F.3d 951, 954 (4th Cir. 1995); see also Crowley Cutlery
Co. v. United States, 849 F.2d 273, 277 (7th Cir. 1988)
(federal district judge has authority to dismiss a
frivolous suit on his own initiative). This screening
authority differentiates in forma pauperis suits
from ordinary civil suits. Nasim, 64 F.3d at
953-954; see also Eriline Co. S.A. v. Johnson, 440
F.3d 648, 656 (4th Cir. 2006). Pursuant to this statute,
numerous courts have performed a preliminary screening of
non-prisoner complaints. See Fogle v. Blake, 227 F.
App'x 542, *1 (8th Cir. July 10, 2007)
(affirming district court's pre-service dismissal of
non-prisoner's § 1983 complaint pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); Michau v.
Charleston Cnty., S.C., 434 F.3d 725, 727 (4th Cir.
2006) (applying 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) to preliminary
screen of non-prisoner complaint); Evans v. Albaugh,
2013 WL 5375781 (N.D. W.Va. 2013) (28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)
authorizes dismissal of complaints filed in forma pauperis).
reasons set out herein, the petition, construed as a civil
rights action, shall be dismissed. A separate Order follows
reflecting this opinion.
 Subsequent to the filing of his
petition, Purvey filed two letters, construed as complaints.
They provide no factual background to his original claims,
but reference contractual, property, and visitation disputes
between himself and others. ECF Nos. 4 & 5.
 The statute provides in pertinent
Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion
thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the
case at any time if the court determines that ... (B) the
action or appeal-(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks