United States District Court, D. Maryland
ANNE MORELAND,  O/B/O T.D. MINOR CHILD Petitioner,
PRINCE GEORGES COUNTY DEP'T OF SOCIAL SERVICES, PRINCE GEORGES COUNTY OFFICE OF LAW, LEGAL AIDE OF MARYLAND, Respondents.
XINIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
15, 2017, Anne Moreland, who provides an address in in
Houston, Texas, submitted a filing styled as a “42
U.S.C. § 2254 Action” on behalf of her
three-year-old son TD, together with a Motion for Leave to
Proceed in Forma Pauperis. ECF Nos. 1, 2. Based on the
information Moreland provides, she appears to be indigent.
The Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis shall therefore be
granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1)
(authorizing courts to allow indigent parties to proceed
“without prepayment of fees”). As Moreland is
filing for emergency injunctive relief and appears to intend
to file a civil rights complaint, (see e.g., ECF No.
1 at 4) the most appropriate legal avenue to raise her
concerns is by way of a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, and her filing shall be construed
28 U.S.C. § 1915 directs district courts that they
“shall dismiss [a] case” filed by a Plaintiff
proceeding in forma pauperis if the Court determines that the
action “fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted, ” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). This
Court is mindful of its obligation to construe liberally
self-represented pleadings. See Erickson v. Pardus,
551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In evaluating such a pleading, the
factual allegations are assumed to be true. Id. at
93 (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555-56 (2007)). Nonetheless, liberal construction does
not mean that a district court can ignore a clear failure in
the pleading to allege facts which set forth a cognizable
claim. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901
F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990); see also Beaudett v. City of
Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985) (stating a
district court may not “conjure up questions never
squarely presented.”). In making this determination,
“[t]he district court need not look beyond the
complaint's allegations . . . It must hold the pro se
complaint to less stringent standards than pleadings drafted
by attorneys and must read the complaint liberally.”
White v. White, 886 F.2d 721, 722-23 (4th Cir.
1989). The Complaint will be dismissed under this standard.
allegations and cause of action are difficult to discern even
with liberal construction. She seems to assert TD was
unlawfully “seized” in 2016 without a warrant and
placed in foster care during the time she was living in
Prince George's County, Maryland, by Child Protective
Services, in violation of his constitutional rights,
including the Fourth, Fourteenth Amendment, and of Maryland
law. See generally, ECF No. 1. Moreland, who states
that she has been diagnosed with terminal stage-four liver
cancer, avers that TD has congenital adrenal hyperplasia, a
disorder of the endocrine gland, and his physical and mental
health have deteriorated since he has been taken into custody
by Child Protective Services. She also disputes the
State's apparent assertions that TD was endangered by his
living conditions, that she was unable to properly care for
TD, and that she permitted an unregistered sex offender in
violation of his parole to have access to the child. See
e.g., ECF No. 1 at 19, 21-22. As relief, she asks this
Court to grant an emergency hearing related to TD's
“illegal detention” by the Prince Georges County
Child Protective Services, and the Maryland Department of
general rule, the “vast majority” of federal
courts do not permit parents, guardians, or next friends to
represent a minor child in federal court. See, e.g.,
Myers v. Loudoun County Public Schools, 418 F.3d
395, 400-01 (4th Cir. 2005) (collecting cases). This practice
is designed to protect the interests of the minor by
precluding representation from anyone without legal training
necessary to protect the child. The local rules of this Court
provide that individuals who are parties in civil cases may
only represent themselves. All parties other than individuals
must be represented by counsel. Local Rule 101.1.a. Thus,
Moreland may raise claims on her own behalf, but not on
behalf of her minor child.
affording Moreland's claims liberal construction, and to
the extent she is raising claims on her own behalf, the
Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. This Court does not have original subject-matter
jurisdiction over matters concerning paternity, child
support, or child custody. See Raftery v. Scott, 756
F.2d 335, 343 (4th Cir. 1985) (domestic relations exception
to federal courts' jurisdiction based on idea that state
has a stronger more direct interest). Further, this Court
cannot review such a case even where the moving party
establishes diversity jurisdiction. See Wasserman v.
Wasserman, 671 F.2d 832 (4th Cir. 1982) (diversity
jurisdiction does not include power to grant divorces,
determine alimony or support obligations, or decide child
custody rights); Cantor v. Cohen, 442 F.3d 196 (4th
Cir. 2006) (citing Cole v. Cole, 633 F.2d 1083, 1087
(4th Cir. 1980) (noting federal courts “generally
abstain from child custody matters). Because the Court does
not have jurisdiction in child custody matters, the Complaint
will be dismissed. A separate Order shall follow.
 The docket will be amended to show the
correct spelling of plaintiff's last name.
 To the extent Moreland may have
intended to file a petition for writ of habeas corpus under
42 U.S.C. §2254, that statute provides federal relief to
persons in custody pursuant to a state court judgment where
the custody allegedly violates federal or constitutional law.
Section 2254 does not apply to a decision to place a child in
foster care. Further, § 2254 requires exhaustion of
state court remedies before the claims may be presented in
federal court, and there is no evidence that this
prerequisite is met here.
 It appears a second child was placed
in state care. That child is not a party in ...