United States District Court, D. Maryland
RAYMOND J. BLY Plaintiff
JUDGE WILLIAM V. TUCKER, Howard County MD Circuit Court Judge, Defendant
Frederick Motz, United States District Judge
Raymond J. Bly, a Maryland resident, filed a self-represented
complaint seeking unspecified money damages and injunctive
relief against Howard County, Maryland Circuit Court Judge
William V. Tucker. Bly invokes the civil rights statute and
alleges that Judge Tucker has interfered with decisions
concerning appointment of guardianship for his now-deceased
and control over joint family finances. ECF 1. He states
that his wife died on July 3, 2017, but information and
assets frozen during the guardianship remain unavailable to
him as personal representative of her estate, including
health records, money, and the deed to their house. ECF 1 at
filed his complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), which
permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in this
court without prepaying the filing fee. To guard against
possible abuses of this privilege, the statute requires
dismissal of any claim that is frivolous or malicious, or
fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted. 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (ii). This court is
mindful, however, of its obligation to liberally construe
self-represented pleadings, such as Bly's complaint.
See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In
evaluating such a complaint, 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, 722-723 (4th Cir. 1989).
affording Bly's claims the most liberal construction, the
complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. Absent diversity of citizenship, the probate of
wills and administration of estates of decedents are subjects
of state, not national, jurisdiction. See Foster v.
Carlin, 200 F.2d 943, 947 (4th Cir. 1952). Further,
Bly's previous attempts to litigate the question of
guardianship in this court have been rejected for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction. See Bly v. Tucker,
Civil Action No. GLR-15-2564 (D. Md.), dismissed on September
28, 2015, after consolidation with Bly v. Tucker,
GLR-15-2565 (D. Md.); Bly, et al. v. Clerk of Howard
County Circuit Court, Civil Action No. GLR-15-2974 (D.
Md.), dismissed October 2, 2015. Framing his latest action as
a civil rights action does not change the fact that this
court has limited jurisdiction and "may not exercise
jurisdiction absent a statutory basis." Exxon Mobil
Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 552
(2005). Further, this court has "an independent
obligation to determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction
exists, even when no party challenges it." Hertz
Corp. v. Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 94 (2010).
the "well-pleaded complaint" rule, the facts
showing the existence of subject matter jurisdiction
"must be affirmatively alleged in the complaint."
Pinkley, Inc., v. City of Frederick, 191 F.3d 394,
399 (4th Cir. 1999) (citing McNutt v. Gen'l Motors
Acceptance Corp., 298 U.S. 178, (1936)). This court must
presume that a case lies outside its limited jurisdiction
unless and until jurisdiction is shown to be proper.
United States v. Poole, 531 F.3d 263, 274 (4th Cir.
2008) (citing Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co.,
511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)). The burden of establishing subject
matter jurisdiction is on the party asserting jurisdiction.
Robb Evans & Assocs., LLC v. Holibaugh, 609 F.3d
359, 362 (4th Cir. 2010); accord McBurney v.
Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393, 408 (4th Cir. 2010). Bly
cannot meet this requirement.
had the jurisdictional requirement been met, Bly would not be
entitled to relief under the facts set forth in his
complaint. This court does not act as an appellate court to
review state questions of guardianship or probate. To the
extent Bly asks this court to compel certain actions by the
state and/or its agents, his action is akin to a petition for
a writ of mandamus. See 28 U.S.C. § 1361.
Federal district courts have original jurisdiction of any
action in the nature of mandamus to compel an officer or
employee of the United States or one of its agencies to
perform a duty owed to a petitioner. However, a federal
district court has no mandamus jurisdiction over state and
county employees, and cannot compel the State of Maryland or
one of its judges to dismiss guardianship proceedings or
intervene in probate matters. See generally, Gurley v.
Superior Court of Mecklenburg County, 411 F.2d 586,
586-87 (4th Cir. 1969). In any event, review of Mrs.
Bly's guardianship proceedings in In the Matter of
Tieng Doan Ely, Case No. 13-C-15104672 (How. Co. Cir.
Ct), confirms that absent objection, Mrs. Bly's
guardianship will be terminated and the remaining property of
the guardianship estate will be transferred to the personal
representative of the open probation action in the Howard
County Orphans Court on or before September 22, 2017. Entry
the complaint is dismissed and injunctive relief denied. A
separate order follows.
 Diversity jurisdiction does not
See In the Matter of Tieng Doan
Bly, guardianship proceedings, Case No. 13-C-15104672,
Bly's request for power of attorney to manage his
wife's affairs, filed on August 17, 2015, was denied by
Judge Tucker, who then appointed Barrett R. King, Esq. As
Mrs. Bly's guardian.
 Bly also states that he was wrongfully
convicted of a felony. ECF 1 at pp. 1, 3. This court takes
judicial notice that Bly was convicted by the Circuit Court
for Howard County, Maryland on May 1, 1988, for child abuse
and related charges. The case is not available on
Maryland's electronic docket, but is referenced in a
memorandum and order issued by this Court denying federal
habeas corpus relief. See Bly v. The Attorney General for
the State of Maryland, Civil Action No. S-00-283 (D.
Md.). To the extent that Bly seeks to overturn his conviction
based on newly discovered evidence (ECF 1 at p. 4), he may
request permission from the United States Circuit Court for