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James v. Martinez

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division

November 17, 2017

JEREMY LEE JAMES, Plaintiff,
v.
MATILDE PAZ MARTINEZ, ET AL., Defendants.

          ORDER

          XAVIER RODRIGUEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On this date, the Court considered its jurisdiction over this case and certain Defendants' motions to dismiss. The Court GRANTS the pending motions to dismiss (docket nos. 6, 8, and 11), and notifies Plaintiff that it is considering dismissal of certain other claims sua sponte. A district court may dismiss a claim on its own motion, as long as it provides notice of its intention and an opportunity to respond. Davoodi v. Austin Indep. Sch. Dist., 755 F.3d 307, 310 (5th Cir. 2014).

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Jeremy Lee James initially filed his Complaint on July 24, 2017, invoking this Court's diversity jurisdiction. This Court issued a show cause order, noting that Plaintiff and all Defendants were citizens of Texas for purposes of this Court's jurisdiction, that diversity jurisdiction was clearly lacking, and directing Plaintiff to show cause why the case should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. In response, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint invoking this Court's federal question jurisdiction based on alleged violations of the United States Constitution.

         In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff sues twelve Defendants, including Matilde Paz Martinez, Judge Eugenie Wright, Assistant District Attorney Jennifer McDaniels, former Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau (misnamed Susan Parmeleau), Medina County Sheriff Randy Brown, Glenn Kothmann (owner, GHK Enterprises), Andi Thompson (office manager, GHK Enterprises), Elodia Pacheco, Susan Mast-Wilson, Rochelle Acevedo, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, and Andy Lumpkin. Plaintiff fails to specify which specific causes of action are asserted against which particular Defendant. Rather, the Amended Complaint sets forth the following list of statutes or constitutional provisions alleged to be at issue: “False Claims, Defamation of Character, Slander, Coersion [sic], Assumption of Jurisdiction, Barratry, Failure to Disclose, False Imprisonment, Violation of 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th & 9th Amendment of Constitution of The United States of America, Breech [sic] of Contract.”

         The Amended Complaint then contains a narrative generally summarizing Plaintiff's claims as to all Defendants. Plaintiff primarily complains of Matilde Paz Martinez, who is the mother of Plaintiff's children, and is alleged to have caused all of the other incidents of which Plaintiff complains. Plaintiff complains that she refuses to let him be with his children, and that she filed for a protective order against him in early 2013. Plaintiff alleges that she called him, telling him he was never going to spend Christmas with his kids and there “were choice words for a response, ” after which “she hung up and called SAPD to violate my P.O.” Plaintiff alleges that he tried multiple times to state his claim to Judge Eugenie Wright, as well as Bexar County ADAs Jennifer McDaniels and Johnathan Watkins, “to no avail.” Plaintiff alleges that the Judge ordered him taken into custody, when “5 bailiffs began assaulting” him, to which he resisted. He alleges that he was charged with five counts of assaulting an officer and hindering court proceedings, and Judge Wright later revoked his bond after he bailed out.

         He alleges that the sheriffs then came and “forced their way into [his] house detained [him], then assaulted [him] after in custody sprayed mace millimeters from eye” and then searched his house without a warrant, producing a .22 handgun and a sawed-off 16-gauge shotgun “for home protection.” He alleges he was charged with felonious possession of a prohibited firearm, “a violation of our constitution and my 2nd Amendment rights.” He states that his attorney/public defender Rochelle Acevedo told him he was accountable and could not seek vindication. He states that the prosecutors refused his claim of truth “and proceed[ed] with prosecutorial vindictiveness.” He notes that Susan Pamerleau was the Bexar County Sheriff at the time, and the current Sheriff is Javier Salazar.

         Plaintiff alleges that he then moved to Medina County at an unspecified time. He alleges he was trying to send messages to his son through his mother and she “set about to put another P.O. just to stop me from calling her.” He states, “I had a friend check once I found out police were looking for me so I know it was protective order that I was summonses to so was not in court they escalated to terroristic threats and put warrant.” He alleges that a neighbor in Hondo (Andy Lumpkin) made a false report about him firing a weapon towards the street. He then alleges that Medina County Sheriffs trespassed on private property to take him into custody for the warrant, then coerced his wife into letting them search her house without a warrant and seize property without compensation, then informing neighbors of his past.

         He alleges that his neighbor Elodia Pacheco starting making calls, making the company selling him land (GHK Enterprises) refuse payment only to send a letter of default and evicting them “all because Elodia did not want to live next to us she made false claims throughout the neighborhood that I was a felon” and passing around a petition. Plaintiff then alleges that Susan Mast-Wilson owns two tracts of land and she entered into a contract with Plaintiff to rent to own.

         He states he paid $1000 deposit and a half month rent, but three days after taking possession a realtor told him the contract was no good and he and his family would be thrown out.

         Plaintiff then alleges that “all of these things or people are a direct result of Ms. Martinez false claims and continue[d] attempts to put me in Jail where I can not get to my children.” Plaintiff asks the Court to restore his honor, expunge his felony, restore his guardianship of his children, and award damages.

         ANALYSIS

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. This Court has a duty to examine its subject matter jurisdiction, and must do so sua sponte when necessary. Howery v. Allstate Ins. Co., 243 F.3d 912, 919 (5th Cir. 2001). Unless a statute specifically grants this Court jurisdiction, this Court's jurisdiction is generally limited to those claims over which it has diversity jurisdiction or federal question jurisdiction.

         Many of Plaintiff's claims involve state-law causes of action against private individuals and there is no diversity jurisdiction for any of these claims. However, in his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff does assert claims under the United States Constitution against certain defendants and invokes the Second, Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, and Ninth Amendments. Some of these claims invoke this Court's federal question jurisdiction.

         A plaintiff may not sue directly under the Constitution. However, § 1983 provides a remedy for the violation of the United States Constitution by state actors in certain circumstances. Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990); 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983. Claims under this section must allege sufficient facts to show that: “(1) the conduct in question [was] committed by a person acting under the color of state law; and (2) the conduct [deprived] the plaintiff of a right secured by the Constitution or the laws of the United States.” Martin v. Thomas, 973 F.2d 449, 452-53 (5th Cir. 1992). To hold a defendant individually liable, § 1983 further requires that a plaintiff “identify defendants who were either personally involved in the constitutional violation or whose acts are causally connected to the constitutional violation alleged.” Woods v. Edwards, 51 F.3d 577, 583 (5th Cir. 1995). Vicarious liability may not be used to expand the reach of a § 1983 claim. Thompkins v. Belt, 828 F.2d 298, 303-04 (5th Cir. 1987). To hold the Sheriff liable in his official capacity (which is essentially a claim against the County), a plaintiff must generally show that (1) there is a constitutional violation; (2) there is an official policy or custom of the County; and (3) the official policy or custom was the moving force behind the constitutional violation. Bellard v. Gautreaux, 675 F.3d 454, 462 (5th Cir. 2012).

         When the Court has original federal question jurisdiction over some claims, it may exercise supplemental jurisdiction over other claims for which original jurisdiction is lacking if those claims “are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution.” 28 U.S.C. § 1367. However, even where such supplemental jurisdiction exists, the Court may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction in certain circumstances.

         Claims under the United States Constitution (Section 1983)

         The Court first considers the claims over which it may or does have federal question jurisdiction. As noted, Plaintiff purports to assert claims under the Second Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Sixth Amendment, Eighth Amendment, and Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

         Second Amendment claims

         To the extent Plaintiff contends that his conviction for possession of a firearm violates his Second Amendment right and asks the Court to expunge his conviction, such a claim may not be brought under § 1983. Convicted persons wishing to challenge their conviction must do so through a criminal appeal or petition for writ of habeas corpus, not through civil rights actions. When a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of the criminal conviction, § 1983 is not available. Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521, 533 (2011) (citing Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994)). Thus, because Plaintiff's Second Amendment claims would call into question his conviction for possession of a firearm, the Court lacks jurisdiction to consider Plaintiff's Second Amendment claims. Thus, the Court finds that the Second Amendment claims should be dismissed.

         Eighth ...


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