United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Brown, a resident of Baltimore County, Maryland, seeks
declaratory and injunctive relief mandating that her juvenile
records be excluded from custody proceedings involving Brown
and Durrell Williams. ECF No. 1 at 10. Brown also seeks $1,
000.000.00 in damages from Williams and $2, 800, 000.00 from
Baltimore County and Kristy Caceres and Mary Stengal, who
have played a role in the evaluation process made part of the
resolution of a custody battle involving the minor child
case is not Brown's first attempt to invoke federal court
oversight of her child custody dispute. In Brown, et al.
v. Baltimore County, Maryland, et al., Civil Action No.
JKB-19-1772 (D. Md.), Brown sought to remove Baltimore County
Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Cox by invoking the Third,
Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States
Constitution and the civil rights statute, 42 U.S.C. §
1983 as the bases for subject matter jurisdiction.
Id., ECF No. 1 at 10-11. Brown alleged that Defendant
Cox refused to recuse herself from child custody proceedings
between Brown and Durrell Williams despite a conflict of
interest and following a trial awarded custody to Williams,
an alleged abuser. ECF No. 1 at 4-7. On July 9, 2019, the
Honorable James K. Bredar dismissed the lawsuit for lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction, while also noting that judicial
officers are immune from liability for judicial acts and
invoking the Rooker-Feldman [abstention] doctrine.
Id., ECF No. 2, Order of July 9, 2019.
determined that the instant lawsuit derives from Brown's
custody case, this court must examine whether federal
jurisdiction permits adjudication of her claims. Under 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)). “A court is to
presume, therefore, that a case lies outside its limited
jurisdiction unless and until jurisdiction has been 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)). Moreover, 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 Hertz v. Friend, 599 U.S.
77, 95 (2010); McBurney v. Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393,
408 (4th Cir. 2010).
provide a federal forum for plaintiffs who seek to vindicate
federal rights, Congress has conferred on the district courts
original jurisdiction over civil actions that arise under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.
Exxon Mobil Corp., 545 U.S. at 552; 28 U.S.C. §
1331. See also U.S. Constitution Art. III, § 2
(“The Judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law
and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the
United States, and Treaties made . . .”). This is
sometimes called federal question jurisdiction. Furthermore,
under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a), district courts are granted
“supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that
are so related to claims in the action within [the
courts'] original jurisdiction that they form part of the
same case or controversy under Article III of the United
States Constitution.” Section 1367 does not create an
independent basis for jurisdiction. Rather, § 1367
allows for a court to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
state law claims, but only where the complaint also pleads
related federal claims.
claims her juvenile court record was divulged by Defendant
Caceres during Brown's child custody proceedings, in
violation of Maryland law. This misconduct does not confer federal
jurisdiction. However, Brown also invokes the federal
wiretapping law, 18 U.S.C. § 2510 et seq.,
claiming that telephone conversations recorded without her
knowledge by Defendant Williams were improperly used during
those custody proceedings. ECF No. 1, p. 3, 6. Brown also claims
Caceres sent Brown's juvenile record to Williams and
other undisclosed individuals via email, which Williams
provided to Brown's employer, leading to the termination
of Brown's security clearance and employment as a
government contractor. ECF No. 1, p. 8.
a private citizen, lacks a judicially cognizable interest in
any criminal prosecution that might be invoked under the
wiretapping law. See Linda R.S. v. Richard D., 410
U.S. 614, 619 (1973); Otero v. United States Attorney
General, 832 F.2d 141 (11th Cir. 1987). Further, the
statute is designed to protect against
“interception” of wire and electronic
communications affecting interstate or foreign communication
or commerce, not telephone recordings and emails between
parents embroiled in a custody dispute.
civil cover sheet accompanying this action, Brown checks
“other civil rights” and “personal
injury/assault, libel & slander” as the bases for
her claims. ECF No. 1-1. As noted in Brown, et
al. v. Baltimore County, Maryland, et al., Civil Action
No. JKB-19-1772, the federal court must abstain from
intervening in Brown's custody case. Simply put, federal
question jurisdiction is absent in this case.
other avenue of subject-matter jurisdiction must be examined.
A dispute over damages caused by assault, libel and slander
are state tort claims, and do not provide a basis for federal
question jurisdiction, unless diversity jurisdiction is
present. Congress “has granted district courts original
jurisdiction in civil actions between citizens of different
States, between U.S. citizens and foreign citizens, or by
foreign states against U.S. citizens, ” so long as the
amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Exxon Mobil
Corp., 545 U.S. at 552; see 28 U.S.C. §
1332. However, diversity jurisdiction “requires
complete diversity among parties, meaning that the
citizenship of every plaintiff must be different
from the citizenship of every defendant.”
Cent. W.Va. Energy Co., Inc. v. Mountain State Carbon,
LLC, 636 F.3d 101, 103 (4th Cir. 2011) (emphasis added);
see Strawbridge v. Curtiss, 7 U.S. 267 (1806). Here,
at least two of the individuals/entities named in the
complaint, Defendants Williams and Baltimore County, are in
Maryland, as is Plaintiff, defeating diversity jurisdiction.
a jurisdictional basis for suit, Brown's lawsuit is
legally frivolous. Such lawsuits are subject to dismissal
pursuant to the court's inherent authority, even where,
as here, the plaintiff has paid the filing fee. Smith v.
Kagan, 616 Fed.Appx. 90 (4th Cir. 2015); see Chong
Su Yi v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 554 Fed.Appx. 247, 248 (4th
Cir. 2014) (same); Ross v. Baron, 493 Fed.Appx. 405,
406 (4th Cir. 2012) (same). The federal rules required
dismissal any time there is a determination there is no
jurisdiction. See Fed.R.Civ.P.12(h)(3) (“If
the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”);
see also Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500,
506-07 (2006). Such dismissal is appropriate here, given the
lack of federal subject-matter jurisdiction. A separate Order
 Federal courts uniformly do not allow
parents, guardians or next friends to appear without legal
representation on behalf of a minor or incompetent person.
See Wenger v. Canastota Central Sch. Dist., 146 F.3d
123, 124 (2nd Cir. 1998), overruled on other grounds;
Devine v. Indian River Sch. Bd., 121 F.3d 576,
581-82 (11th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds;
Johns v. San Diego, 114 F.3d 874, 876 (9th Cir.
1997); Meeker v. Kercher, 782 F.2d 153, 154, (10th
Cir. 1986). This prohibition is designed to protect the
interests of the minor or incompetent person from being
compromised by one who lacks the legal training necessary
adequately to protect them. It also recognizes that lay
persons are not bound by the same ethical obligations placed
upon lawyers. See Brown v. Ortho Diagnostic Sys.,
Inc., 868 F.Supp. 168, 172 (E.D. Va. 1994).
 That case, Williams v. Brown,
Family Circuit Court No. 03-C-16-00619 (Balt. Co. Cir. Ct.),
filed on June 22, 2016, currently is on appeal. See