United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Division
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
GONZALES RAMOS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Brian Sellers (Sellers) filed this action against the
Honorable David Stith, Judge of the 319th Judicial District
Court, Nueces County, Texas (Judge Stith), the Nueces County
Community Supervision & Corrections Department (CSCD),
and the Nueces County District Attorney's Office (DA).
Sellers, who is under indictment on felony charges, complains
of the alleged violation of his civil rights in connection
with the imposition of pre-trial conditions of release from
jail. Defendants have filed motions to dismiss (D.E. 11, 12,
21) on the basis that, under the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine or Younger abstention doctrine, this Court
is without jurisdiction to adjudicate the claims. CSCD and
the DA also claim that Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity
requires dismissal. Last, the DA claims that it is not a
action was called for an initial pre-trial conference on
December 8, 2017, with each party appearing by counsel.
Plaintiff had filed his responses to the motions filed by
Judge Stith and CSCD. D.E. 17, 18. And those Defendants had
filed replies. D.E. 19, 20. The DA's motion, filed on
December 7, 2017, was not yet ripe for submission. Local Rule
7. Plaintiff asked that his other responses be applied to the
DA's motion and waived the right to file an independent
response to that motion. The Court granted that request such
that Plaintiff is not considered to have defaulted on the
DA's motion. For the reasons set out below, the Court
GRANTS the motions on their merits and DISMISSES this action.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) requires dismissal for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction if the Court lacks statutory
or constitutional power to adjudicate the case. Home
Builders Ass'n of Miss., Inc. v. City of Madison,
143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998). Even in the absence of a
jurisdictional challenge, the Court must question its
jurisdiction sua sponte. Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil
Co., 526 U.S. 574, 583 (1999). The burden of proof is on
the party asserting jurisdiction-Sellers, here. Ramming
v. United States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir.2001),
cert. denied sub nom., Cloud v. United
States, 536 U.S. 960 (2002).
to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the federal district
courts do not have jurisdiction to review state court
judgments. Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S.
413 (1923); District of Columbia Court of Appeals v.
Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983). See also,
Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544
U.S. 280, 283 (2005). The Fifth Circuit has often described
the judgments to which Rooker-Feldman applies as
orders subject to res judicata or collateral estoppel
defenses, and not to interlocutory orders. E.g.,
Burciaga v. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Tr. Co., 871
F.3d 380, 387 (5th Cir. 2017). See generally,
Buehler, Revisiting Rooker-Feldman: Extending The
Doctrine To State Court Interlocutory Orders, 36 Fla.
St. U. L. Rev. 373 (Spring 2009). However, the Fifth Circuit
has also stated that the type of state court judgment to
which the doctrine applies is an order that is final for
appeal purposes and entitled to full faith and credit.
Union Planters Bank Nat. Ass'n v. Salih, 369
F.3d 457, 460 (5th Cir. 2004).
Texas law, any order setting Sellers' pre-trial
conditions of release from jail is such an order and may be
challenged by writ of habeas corpus without the necessity of
additional motion practice. See generally, Tex.
Crim. Proc. Code § 11.16; Ex Parte Victorick,
453 S.W.3d 5, 11 (Tex. App.-Beaumont 2014, pet. ref'd).
See also, Coronado v. United States Bd. of
Parole, 540 F.2d 216, 217 (5th Cir. 1976) (challenges to
conditions of release should be adjudicated as habeas corpus
matters). Thus Rooker-Feldman applies and this Court
lacks jurisdiction to the extent that Sellers is subject to
any final order.
complains that the conditions of release are being imposed by
CSCD without a court order. Even if the conditions of release
are not deemed a judgment entitled to full faith and credit,
Sellers' action is still subject to dismissal. He seeks
to enjoin proceedings associated with an ongoing state court
criminal prosecution. Such relief is precluded by the
Younger abstention doctrine. Younger v.
Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). See also, 28
U.S.C.§ 2283 (anti-injunction statute). In the interest
of comity, a federal court cannot enjoin a pending criminal
trial in state court or enter declaratory relief contrary to
the state court proceedings, absent exceedingly rare and
extraordinary circumstances. Ballard v. Wilson, 856
F.2d 1568, 1569-70 (5th Cir. 1988). No such circumstances
have been demonstrated here. Instead, Sellers must prosecute
his rights through motions or writs available through the
state court system. See generally, Tex.R.App.P. 52
(providing for original appellate proceedings seeking
extraordinary relief, such as a writ of habeas corpus,
mandamus, prohibition, injunction, or quo warranto).
these reasons, the Court GRANTS the motions to dismiss (D.E.
11, 12, 21), and DISMISSES this action in its entirety for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Court need not, and
does not, reach Defendants' ...