United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. GRIMM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
January 2, 2018, Michael Moment initiated this pro se
litigation for damages and declaratory and injunctive relief
against Mary Ellen Barbera, Chief Judge of the Maryland Court
of Appeals. Compl., ECF No. 1. He also filed a Motion for
Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis, which will be granted for
the purpose of preliminary screening of the Complaint.
alleges that he is improperly imprisoned for a
“technical” violation of his
probation. Id. He alleges that he sent
letters to Judge Barbera on February 27, and March 3, 2017 to
inform her that “members of her department” have
conspired to illegally incarcerate him, and takes issue with
the response he received on April 4, 2017, from Stephanie J.
Latour, Managing Legal Counsel, Administrative Office of the
Courts, whom, he asserts wrote that it would be inappropriate
for Judge Barbera to intervene in a specific case in which no
timely and proper appeal is pending in the Court of Appeals.
Compl. ¶¶ 6-7. Notably, Moment does not explain
what he means by a “technical violation” of his
probation or identify the persons who conspired to illegally
incarcerate him. Further, he does not explain why his
incarceration was illegal. As best as can be discerned, he
disputes the information in the April 4, 2017, letter because
on February 27, 2017 he had a Petition for a Writ of
Certiorari pending before the Court of Appeals of Maryland.
As relief, Moment asks for damages against Judge Barbera, a
declaration that these actions violated his Constitutional
Rights and federal law, and injunctive relief to order Judge
Barbera to “stop conspiring to deny him” his
Constitutional rights.” Compl. ¶¶ 30-37.
Moment is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must screen
his Complaint. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B);
Michau v. Charleston Cty., S.C., 434 F.3d 725, 728
(4th Cir. 2006). As part of the screening, the Court must
dismiss a case if it determines that the action (1) is
“frivolous or malicious”; (2) “fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted”; or (3)
“seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
Complaint “must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). While
federal courts are obliged to liberally construe a pro se
litigant's claims in applying this analysis, this
requirement “does not transform the court into an
advocate.” United States v. Wilson, 699 F.3d
789, 797 (4th Cir. 2012) (internal quotations and citations
omitted). The Fourth Circuit has noted that “[w]hile
pro se complaints may ‘represent the work of an
untutored hand requiring special judicial solicitude, ' a
district court is not required to recognize ‘obscure or
extravagant claims defying the most concerted efforts to
unravel them.'” Weller v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990) (quoting
Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1277
(4th Cir. 1985), cert denied, 475 U.S. 1088 (1986)).
Accordingly, although the facts alleged in a pro se
plaintiffs complaint must ordinarily be taken as true, bare
conclusory statements “are not entitled to the
assumption of truth.” Aziz v. Alcolac, Inc.,
658 F.3d 388, 391 (4th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 679) (internal quotation marks omitted).
assertions are insufficient to support a claim for a
constitutional violation. At most, he claims his Petition for
a Writ of Certiorari was pending when he received a letter
indicating it was inappropriate for Judge Barbera to
intervene in his case. Moreover, judges are entitled to
absolute immunity for judicial acts, unless performed in
“clear absence of all jurisdiction” because they
must be able to execute their official duties without the
constant fear of suit. See Stump v. Sparkman, 435
U.S. 349, 356-57, 362-63 (1978). Moment does not allege, nor
do the facts remotely suggest Judge Barbera acted outside the
purview of her jurisdiction. To the extent Moment intends to
hold Judge Barbera culpable for the actions of the Managing
Legal Counsel, respondeat superior does not apply in civil
rights actions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, See Love-Lane
v. Martin, 355 F.3d 766, 782 (4th Cir. 2004) and Moment
asserts no facts to apply the doctrine of supervisory
liability.2 See Shaw v. Stroud, 13 F.3d 791, 799
(4th Cir. 1994) (outlining requirements).
it is this 8th day of February 2018, by the United
States District Court for the District of Maryland, hereby
1. The Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (ECF No.
2) IS GRANTED;
2. The case IS DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
3. The Clerk SHALL CLOSE this case; and 2 Legal Counsel may
also be entitled to immunity, under these circumstances, but
the Court need not consider this question here.
4. The Clerk SHALL SEND a copy of this Order to Moment at the
last address he provided to the Court.
 Moment may have been released from
prison since initiating the Complaint. On December 26, 2017,
the Honorable Dwight D. Jackson granted Moment's Motion
for Reconsideration of Sentence. Judge Jackson suspended all
but 2 years and 92 days and credited Moment with 2 years and
92 days with unsupervised probation. See
(last visited January 29, 2018). On January 22, 2018, the
Court of Appeals denied a petition for writ of certiorari.
Id. Mail sent to Moment was returned to the Court on
January 12, 2018 as undeliverable and unable to forward. ECF
No. 3. The Maryland Inmate Locator does not list Michael