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Moseley v. Winston

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 7, 2018

STEVEN MOSELEY, Plaintiff,
v.
ADRIENNE WINSTON, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Steven Moseley (“Plaintiff” or “Mr. Moseley”) seeks to challenge a child support judgment entered in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. Plaintiff's similar effort in a prior case was dismissed by this Court on December 7, 2017. (No. JKB-17-114, ECF No. 12.) Plaintiff's current lawsuit names three Defendants: Adrienne Winston, Martin McGuire, and Judge Jeffrey Geller - the same three defendants in the prior federal action.

         On behalf of Judge Jeffrey Geller and Martin McGuire (together, the “State Defendants”), the Maryland Attorney General's Office filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim On June 13, 2018. (ECF No. 9.) Mr. Moseley has not responded to the Motion to Dismiss. Having reviewed the motion, no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 9) is GRANTED, and this case shall be DISMISSED as to all defendants.

         BACKGROUND

         I. State Child Support Action

         On September 28, 2012, the State of Maryland (represented by Martin McGuire), on behalf of Adrienne Winston, sued Mr. Moseley for child support payments in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. (Docket Sheet in No. 24-P-12-002814, ECF No. 7-3 at 9.) The Summons for Mr. Moseley was served on January 15, 2013, but Mr. Moseley claimed service of process was improper because the Summons was only effective for 60 days from the date of issue, October 16, 2012. (ECF No. 7-2.) Mr. Moseley therefore moved to dismiss the action, but the Circuit Court for Baltimore City denied Moseley's motion on March 27, 2013. (Docket Sheet in No. 24-P-12-002814, ECF No. 7-3 at 10.) The Circuit Court proceeded to enter a judgment against Mr. Moseley, and the case was formally closed in November 2014. (Id. at 13.)[1] There is no indication that Mr. Moseley filed a direct appeal of the Circuit Court's rulings.

         II. Previous Federal Lawsuit

         In January 2017, Mr. Moseley filed suit in this Court seeking a writ of mandamus against Judge Geller, Martin McGuire, and Adrienne Winston alleging that Judge Geller had violated his equal protection and due process rights by denying his motion to dismiss. See Moseley v. Winston, No. JKB-17-114, 2017 WL 371907 (D. Md. Jan. 26, 2017); No. JKB-17-114, ECF No. 4. Chief Judge James K. Bredar of this Court sua sponte dismissed Mr. Moseley's action, reasoning that “this court does not have original subject-matter jurisdiction over matters concerning child support.” Id. (citing 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)). Judge Bredar also held that Mr. Moseley's requests for relief were barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine because they amounted to a request for federal court review of a state court judgment. Id. at *2 (citing Dist. of Columbia Ct. of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482 (1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 416 (1923)).

         In July 2017, Mr. Moseley moved to reopen the case, asserted a new claim, and moved to vacate the prior dismissal order pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(4). (No. JKB-17-114; ECF No. 5.) In that filing, Mr. Moseley conceded that this Court did not have jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, but argued that a due process violation in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City entitled him to relief under Rule 60(b)(4). (Id.) On August 4, 2017, Mr. Moseley filed an “Amended - Petition to Re-Open Case Based on New Claim of Relief / Motion to Vacate Judgement as per FRCP 60(B)(4), ” which also invoked equal protection as a theory for relief. (No. JKB-17-114, ECF Nos. 6, 7.) This Court determined that Rule 60(b) did not authorize motions merely based upon a request for reconsideration, and reaffirmed its earlier ruling, thereby denying Mr. Moseley's petition to reopen. (No. JKB-17-114, ECF No. 7 at 2-3.) The Court emphasized that Mr. Moseley's allegation that the Circuit Court violated his due process and equal protection rights is barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. (Id. at 3.)

         In September 2017, Mr. Moseley filed another petition to vacate pursuant to Rule 60(b)(4) attacking the same Circuit Court judgment. This Court determined that this petition, which was initially docketed as a new lawsuit, No. JKB-17-2489, was more properly dockets as a post-judgment motion in the previously filed case, No. JKB-17-114. Less than three months later, Mr. Moseley filed a petition for voluntary dismissal without prejudice. (No. JKB-17-114, ECF No. 11.) This Court granted Mr. Moseley's requested dismissal on December 7, 2017. (No. JKB-17-114, ECF No. 12.)

         III. Instant Federal Lawsuit

         On March 19, 2018, three months after voluntarily dismissing his first suit, Mr. Moseley filed a Petition to Vacate Judgment as Per FRCP 60(B)(4) in the instant case. (ECF No. 1.) On May 9, 2018, Mr. Moseley filed a “Petition to Vacate Judgment as Per FRCP 60(B)(4) - Amended, ” requesting in part a preliminary injunction against the enforcement and collection of the void judgment. (ECF No. 4.) On May 9, 2018, this Court denied Mr. Moseley's request for preliminary injunctive relief noting that such relief “would [arguably] void the Circuit Court judgment.” (ECF No. 5.)

         Mr. Moseley then amended his Petition a second time on May 30, 2018. (ECF No. 7.) This Court will refer to this filing as the operative “Second Amended Complaint.”[2] The Second Amended Complaint requests “relief as per Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(4) from a judgment (case#24P12002814) entered in violation of constitutional requirements (due process) by the Baltimore City Circuit Court.” (ECF No. 7 at 1.) Mr. Moseley's constitutional claim is that the State court judgment is allegedly “void ab initio because personal jurisdictional service was ‘without effect', which rendered the lower court ‘powerless to proceed' to a final decree as per Maryland law.” (Id.) He alleges that the child support order is void because he was absent from the initial child support hearing because he was improperly served. (Id. at 4-5.) He reiterates that the State court violated his due process rights by denying his motion to dismiss for improper service and proceeding with the child support matter. (Id.)

         In terms of relief, Mr. Moseley again seeks a preliminary injunction against the collection of the child support payments, and he also prays that this Court enter a “Declaratory Judgment that the Baltimore City Circuit Court judgment entered was invalid” as well as “an order to remove Maryland State driving restrictions, Credit Reporting ...


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