United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Hollander United States District Judge.
above-captioned case was filed on December 23, 2019, by the
self-represented plaintiff, Misty Winters. She has sued
numerous defendants: Joshua Winters; Katherine Worley; Paul
Daurgaard; Teresa Daurgaard; Benjamin Schenck; Robb Schenck;
Chris Schenck; Bob Taylor; Sue Taylor; Lois Schenck; Sara
Deslesuiers; Suzy Porter; Joanna Funke; Contra Costa County -
The State of California; The State of Utah, the City of Moab;
The State of Minnesota; Hennepin County Police Precinct 3;
The Corner House; Maplewood Police Department; Child
Protective Services of Hennepin County; and Sergeant William
Palmer of the Minneapolis Police Department.
suit is captioned as a Petition for Writ of Mandamus. ECF 1.
Although the content is difficult to decipher, it appears to
concern plaintiff's minor children, whom she alleges are
being neglected and/or abused by her husband, Joshua
Winters. Id. For the reasons stated
herein, the case must be transferred to the appropriate
Winters, who apparently resides in Maryland, begins her
pleading with a request to “The Honorable Judge of the
District Court of the State of Minnesota.” Id.
at 1. She also describes the suit as “Notice of Motion
of Writ of Mandamus to the Federal Court of the District of
Minnesota for the United States, ” seeking a
“Motion to Proceed with Divorce Proceedings. . .
.” Id. at 3.
pleading does not state clear, concise claims. Among other
claims, plaintiff invokes various federal criminal statutes,
although these statutes do not give rise to a private right
of action. See Id. at 3; see, e.g.,
Ras-Selah: 7 Tafari: El v. Glasser and Glasser PLC,
434 Fed.Appx. 236, 236 (4th Cir. 2011) (per curiam)
(observing that “[a] private person may not initiate a
criminal action in the federal courts.”). This much is
clear, however: none of the factual narrative has any
relation to the State of Maryland, notwithstanding Ms.
Winter's address. See ECF 1 at 14.
example, Ms. Winters states that her husband, with whom she
resided in California, improperly moved her children to
Minnesota and has refused to let her see them for long
periods of time. ECF 1 at 4-5. Additionally, she implies that
the State of Minnesota may consider her a “fugitive of
justice, ” although she disagrees with the
characterization, and adds that California is her home state.
Id. at 6. Ms. Winters also references time that she
spent in jail in Moab County, Utah and names the State of
Utah as well as the States of Minnesota and California as
defendants. Id. at 9. It is therefore unclear why
the pleading was filed in this court, as it appears that
plaintiff is the only party with a connection to Maryland.
venue statutes governing the federal courts provide guidance
as to where a federal action may be initiated. Under 28
U.S.C. § 1391(b), a civil action that is not founded on
diversity of citizenship may be brought only in the judicial
district where any of the defendants reside, if all
defendants reside in the same State, or a judicial district
in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving
rise to the claim occurred, except as otherwise provided by
law. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), “[a] civil action
may be brought in -- (1) a judicial district where any
defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the
State in which the district is located; (2) a judicial
district in which a substantial part of the events or
omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial
part of property that is the subject of the action is
situated; or (3) if there is no district in which the action
may otherwise be brought as provided in this section, any
judicial district in which any defendant is subject to the
court's personal jurisdiction with respect to such
action.” Review of Ms. Winters' pleading makes
clear that Maryland simply does not satisfy any of the venue
Winters' suit seems to couch this action as one
concerning matters primarily occurring in Minnesota. See,
e.g., ECF 2-1 (referencing litigation in Hennepin and
Ramsey counties). Therefore, I shall transfer this matter to
the District of Minnesota. See 28 U.S.C.
§1406(a) (“The district court of a district in
which is filed a case laying venue in the wrong division or
district shall dismiss, or if it be in the interest of
justice transfer such case to any district or division in
which it could have been brought.”). In so doing, this
court expresses no view regarding the merits of the claims
asserted by Ms. Winters.
case shall be transferred to the United States District Court
for the District of Minnesota for all further proceedings. An
 Given the nature of the allegation, a
redacted version of the suit has been docketed. ECF 1. The
unredacted version is under seal. ECF 2. Exhibits were filed
 Notably, this is not an international
child custody case, governed by federal statute or a treaty.
As difficult as this matter apparently is for Ms. Winters, it
seems to spring from a conventional domestic dispute,
packaged as a claim for constitutional violations. Domestic
relations cases, including child custody matters, are not
generally heard in federal court, because “State
courts. . . have the experience to deal with this specific
area of the law.” Cantor v. Cohen, 442 F.3d
196, 202 (4th Cir. 2006) (noting that “federal courts
are courts of limited jurisdiction and generally abstain from
hearing child custody matters”) (citing Cole v.
Cole, 63 F.2d 1083, 1087 (4th Cir. 1980)). Even when
there is diversity of citizenship, “diversity
jurisdiction does not include power to grant divorces,
determine alimony or support obligations, or determine child