United States District Court, D. Maryland
W. Grimm United States District Judge
December 21, 2016, Michael Moment filed a Complaint pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. 91983, naming the Honorable Dwight David Jackson
as the sole defendant. Moment presents claims arising from
his August 8, 2011 conviction in State v. Moment,
Criminal Case No. 117643C (Cir. Ct. Montgomery
Cty.) Judge Jackson, Associate Judge for the
Circuit Court of Maryland for Prince George's County,
presided over the case. On August 2, 2016, Judge Jackson held
a violation of probation hearing and found Moment m violation
of his probation. Id. Docket No. 278. Moment's
sentencing hearing is currently scheduled for February 13,
2017. Id. Docket No. 303.
crux of Moments claim is that Judge Jackson violated his
rights under the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to
the United States Constitution because he lacked legal
authority to preside over Moments case in the Circuit Court
of Montgomery County. This claim is similar to the one he
raised in Moment v. Malagari, Civil Actions No.
PWG-16-2535 and PWG-16-2536 (D. Md.), which I dismissed
without prejudice on August 25, 2016. In Moment v.
Malagari, Civil Action No. PWG-16-2535, Moment filed a
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241, asserting Judge Jackson had illegally issued a
bench warrant for his detention for violating his probation
in case 117643C. He argued that Judge Jackson, as a member of
the bench of the Circuit Court for Prince George's
County, had no legal authority issue a warrant in Montgomery
County. I dismissed that case without prejudice for failure
to demonstrate exhaustion of state court remedies. In the
second case, Moment v. Malagari, Civil Action No.
PWG-16-2536, which was filed as a civil rights complaint
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Moment raised the same
claims and sought monetary damages. I dismissed the
§1983 claims without prejudice based on Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).
instant matter, Moment seeks a hearing and $5, 000, 000 in
damages for what he considers an "illegal court
proceeding, illegal prosecution, and . . . illegal
imprisonment." Compl. 5, ECF No. 1 5. Moment also filed a
Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis which will be granted.
ECF No. 2. The in forma pauperis statutes permits an indigent
litigant to initiate an action in federal court without
paying the filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). To protect
against possible abuses of tins privilege, the statute
requires a court to dismiss any claim that fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), 1915A(b)(1) Although I
recognize that Moment is a self-represented litigant and
accord the Complaint liberal construction, dismissal is
warranted under this standard.
Judge Jackson's rulings are entitled to judiciary
immunity. The doctrine of judicial immunity shields judges
from monetary claims against them in both their official and
individual capacities. Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9,
9-10 (1991) (per curiam). Judicial immunity is an absolute
immunity: it does not merely protect a defendant from
assessment of damages, but also protects a judge from damages
suits entirely. Id. at 11. An act is still judicial,
and immunity applies, even if the judge commits "grave
procedural errors." Id. (quoting Stump v.
Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 359(1978)). "[J]udges of
courts of superior or general jurisdiction are not liable to
civil actions for their judicial acts, even when such acts
are m excess of their jurisdiction, and are alleged to have
been done maliciously or corruptly." Id. at
355-56; see also Dean v. Shirer, 547 F.2d 227, 231
(4th Cir. 1976) (a judge may not be attacked for exercising
judicial authority even if done improperly).
Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547 (1967), the United
States Supreme Court explained the rationale for judicial
Few doctrines were more solidly established at common law
than the immunity of judges from liability for damages for
acts committed within their judicial Jurisdiction This
immunity applies even when the judge is accused of acting
maliciously and corruptly, and it "is not for the
protection or benefit of a malicious or corrupt judge, but
for the benefit of the public, whose interest it is that the
judges should be at liberty to exercise their functions with
independence and without fear of consequences." It is a
judge's duty to decide all cases within his jurisdiction
that are brought before him, including controversial cases
that arouse the most intense feelings in the litigants. His
errors may be corrected on appeal, but he should not have to
fear that unsatisfied litigants may hound him with litigation
charging malice or corruption. Imposing such a burden on
judges would contribute not to principled and fearless
decision-making but to intimidation.
Id. at 553-54 (citations omitted).
in a case such as this "[w]here success in a
prisoner's 9 1983 damages action would implicitly
question the validity of conviction or duration of sentence,
the litigant must first achieve favorable termination of his
available state, or federal habeas, opportunities to
challenge the underlying conviction or sentence."
Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 751. (2004) (citing
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994)). "In
order to recover damages for an allegedly unconstitutional
conviction or imprisonment or for other harm whose
unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a
§ 1983 plaintiff must demonstrate that the conviction or
sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by
executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal
authorized to make such a determination, or called into
question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 9 2254."
Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-87. Moment provides no
evidence that his conviction, sentence, or violation of
probation was invalidated. Consequently, this claim must be
dismissed without prejudice.
forma pauperis statute at 28 U.S.C. 9 1915(g) provides that a
prisoner may not bring a civil action without complete
prepayment of the appropriate filing fee if the prisoner has
brought, on three or more occasions, an action or appeal in a
federal court that was dismissed as frivolous, as malicious,
or for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, unless the prisoner is in imminent danger of serious
physical injury. As Moment was incarcerated at the time he
initiated this Complaint and for the reasons stated above,
the Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. I assigned Moment a first "strike"
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 9 1915(g) in Moment v. Martel,
Civil Action No. PWG-16-3966. (D. Md.), and a second strike
in Moment v. Danai, Civil Action No. PWG-16-3976.
(D. Md.). I will assign him a third "strike" in
these reasons, I will dismiss this case with prejudice for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and
assign Moment a third "strike" by separate order to
follow. For the remainder of Moment's time in custody, he
is barred, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. S 1915(g), from filing
claims under the in forma pauperis statute unless he "is
under imminent danger or serious physical injury."