United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. HOLLANDER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
O'Briant, the self-represented plaintiff, filed a
“Writ of Mandamus” in this Court on September 6,
2018, essentially seeking a favorable outcome with regard to
an unsuccessful lawsuit he filed in the Circuit Court for
Baltimore City against the Baltimore City Office of Child
Support (“OSC”). ECF 1. Further, this case
appears to be an effort by plaintiff to repackage an earlier,
related suit filed in federal court in Case
Memorandum and Order of September 12, 2018, the underlying
case was dismissed. ECF 2; ECF 3. The Court said, inter
alia, that it lacks the authority under 28 U.S.C. §
1361 to compel an officer of the State of Maryland to take
the requested action. Id., ECF 2 at 3.
September 18, 2018, after the case was closed, plaintiff
filed a document titled “Writ of Mandamus
Amended.” ECF 4. In addition to reiterating grounds for
mandamus relief, it contains an additional claim alleging
denial of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment to
the Constitution, based on the dismissal of
O'Briant's State court suit by Baltimore City Circuit
Court Judge Sylvester Cox. ECF 4 at 4-5. Mr. O'Briant
subsequently submitted correspondence on December 11, 2018
(ECF 5) and exhibits. He complains that I have “failed
to render [my] decision in a timely manner . . . .” ECF
5 at 1.
to plaintiffs allegations, this Court promptly addressed his
Writ of Mandamus. Moreover, the Amended Writ provides no
basis for reconsideration of the dismissal of the case. Nor
is a hearing necessary. See Local Rule 105.6.
Equal Protection Clause allegations, which presumably are
raised as civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
were previously examined by this Court in a Memorandum and
Order issued on July 31, 2018, in a related case filed by
plaintiff: O 'Briant v. Cox, et al, Civil Action
No. ELH-18-2099. See ECF 3; ECF 4.
of review, on July 10, 2017, plaintiff filed a complaint in
State court against the Office of Child Support. O'Briant
sought money damages for tortious injury due to the improper
suspension of his driving privileges, based on an allegedly
false claim that he had failed to pay child support. That
case was dismissed, without prejudice, by Judge Cox on
January 12, 2018, due in part to defects in obtaining service
of process on the defendant agency. See O'Briant v.
Baltimore City Office of Child Support, Case No,
24-C-1700-3632 (Balto. City Cir. Ct.), docket entry 10; ECF 1
at 8. O'Briant's motion to alter or amend that
judgment was denied by Judge Cox on April 18, 2018. Then, on
April 30, 2018, O'Briant filed suit in State court
against Judge Cox. That case was dismissed on May 17, 2018.
See O'Briant v. Cox, No. 24-C-1800-2698 (Balto.
City Cir. Ct.).
on July 10, 2018, O'Briant filed suit in this Court
against Judge Cox, as well as A. Brockington, Court Clerk,
and “Pro Se Attorney Clinic Attorneys.”
See Case ELH-18-2099, ECF 1. As noted in my
Memorandum of July 31, 2018 in Case ELH-18-2099 (ECF 3), an
ordinary mechanism of review was available to plaintiff under
Maryland law; O'Briant could have sought review of the
dismissal of his case in the Maryland Court of Special
Appeals. See Md. Code (2013 Repl. Vol.), §
12-301 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article.
Further, any claim against Judge Cox for decisions made in
his capacity as a judge would be barred by the doctrine of
judicial immunity. See, e.g., Stump v.
Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 363 (1978); Day v. Johns
Hopkins Health System Corp., 907 F.3d 766, 771 (4th Cir.
2018); see also Civil Action ELH-18-2099, ECF 3 at
of this action, to include a civil rights action based on
O'Briant's action against OCS, would be futile. As
noted in ECF 2, under 28 U.S.C. § 1361, federal courts
have original jurisdiction in a mandamus action to compel a
federal officer to perform a duty owed to a petitioner. But,
plaintiff's request is directed at the State of
to the extent the Amended Writ of Mandamus constitutes a
request for reconsideration, it is without merit and shall be
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not contain an express
provision for a “motion for reconsideration” of a
final judgment. Katyle v. Penn Nat'l Gamin,
Inc., 637 F.3d 462, 470 n.4 (4th Cir. 2011), cert.
denied, 132 S.Ct. 115 (2011). However, to avoid
elevating form over substance, a motion to reconsider may be
construed as a motion to alter or amend judgment under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), or a motion for relief from judgment
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). MLC Auto., LLC v. Town of S.
Pines, 532 F.3d 269, 278-80 (4th Cir. 2008).
Civ. P. 59(e) is captioned “Motion to Alter or Amend a
Judgment.” It states: “A motion to alter or amend
a judgment must be filed no later than 28 days after the
entry of the judgment.”
circuit, there are three limited grounds for granting a
motion under Rule 59(e): (1) to accommodate an intervening
change in controlling law; (2) to account for new evidence
not previously available; or (3) to correct clear error of
law or prevent manifest injustice. See United States ex.
rel. Becker v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 305 F.3d
284, 290 (4th Cir. 2002) (citing Pacific Ins. Co. v. Am.
Nat'l Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir.
1998)); Hutchinson v. Stanton, 994 F.2d 1076, 1081
(4th Cir. 2002). Notably, a Rule 59(e) motion “may not
be used to relitigate old matters, or to raise arguments or
present evidence that could have been raised prior to the
entry of judgment.” Pac. Ins. Co., 148 F.3d at
403 (quoting 11 Wright, et al., Federal Practice &
Procedure § 2810.1, at 127-28 (2d ed. 1995)).