United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
ROBERTO MARTINEZ (TDCJ No. 2067337), Plaintiff,
THE COURT OF APPEALS OF TX 5TH DISTRICT DALLAS Defendant.
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
L. HORAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Roberto Martinez a/k/a Roberto Martinez Barrientos, a Texas
prisoner, filed a pro se Petition for Exercise of
the Court's Discretionary Powers to Review a Case under
Title 42 U.S.C. [Dkt. No. 3], construed as a civil rights
complaint. This resulting action has been referred to the
undersigned United States magistrate judge under 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b) and a standing order of reference from United
States District Judge Jane J. Boyle. The undersigned enters
these findings of fact, conclusions of law, and
recommendation that the Court should dismiss this action
without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Court recounted in denying Martinez's construed
application for a petition of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254, in January 2013,
[o]n April 27, 2006, Petitioner was convicted of two counts
of indecency with a child and was sentenced to four years
imprisonment in each case. Petitioner's convictions were
affirmed on direct appeal. See Barrientos v. State,
Nos. 05-06-00675-CR & 05-06-00676-CR, 2007 WL 1492049
(Tex. App.- Dallas May 23, 2007, pet. ref'd). Petitioner
did not seek state habeas relief. He was released from state
custody on August 3, 2008. Petitioner was subsequently
arrested and tried for failure to register as a sex offender.
Petitioner was convicted of that crime on April 24, 2012 and
sentenced to 18 months in state jail. An appeal [was then]
pending before the Fifth District Court of Appeals of Texas.
See Barrientos v. State, No. 05-12-00648-CR (Tex.
App. - Dallas, filed Apr. 25, 2012).
Barrientos v. Dallas Cnty. Dist. Attorney's
Office, No. 3:12-cv-4753-O-BN, 2013 WL 1499382, at *1
(N.D. Tex. Jan. 18, 2013), rec. accepted, 2013 WL
1501623 (N.D. Tex. Apr. 12, 2013); see also Barrientos v.
State, No. 05-12-00648-CR, 2013 WL 3227658 (Tex. App. -
Dallas June 24, 2013) (affirming April 2012 criminal
judgment); Martinez v. State, No.
05-14-01238, 2015 WL 6750812 (Tex. App. - Dallas Nov. 4,
2015, pet. ref'd) (affirming as modified 2014 criminal
judgment, imposing a 7-year sentence after a subsequent
conviction for failing to comply with sex offender
the civil rights complaint, Martinez attacks the validity of
the 2007 Dallas Court of Appeals decision affirming his
convictions for indecency with a child. See Dkt. No.
3 at 1 (referencing Nos. 05-06-00675-CR and -00676-CR);
id. at 4 (“enclosed please find a petition for
the exercise of the court's discretionary power to review
this malicious case which is in violation of my civil rights
Standards and Analysis
“Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and
absent jurisdiction conferred by statute, lack the power to
adjudicate claims.” Stockman v. Fed. Election
Comm'n, 138 F.3d 144, 151 (5th Cir. 1998). As such,
the Court must dismiss a complaint for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction “when the court lacks the 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) (quoting Nowak v.
Ironworkers Local 6 Pension Fund, 81 F.3d 1182, 1187 (2d
Cir. 1996)). The Court will not assume it has jurisdiction.
Rather, “the basis upon which jurisdiction depends must
be alleged affirmatively and distinctly and cannot be
established argumentatively or by mere inference.”
Getty Oil Corp. v. Ins. Co. of N.A., 841 F.2d 1254,
1259 (5th Cir. 1988) (citing Ill. Cent. Gulf R. Co. v.
Pargas, Inc., 706 F.2d 633, 636 & n.2 (5th Cir.
Rooker-Feldman doctrine is a narrow jurisdictional
bar ... designed to prevent lower federal courts from
exercising jurisdiction over matters that are exclusively
reserved for Supreme Court review under 28 U.S.C. §
1257.” Gross v. Dannatt, 736 Fed.Appx. 493,
494 (5th Cir. 2018) (per curiam) (citing Lance v.
Dennis, 546 U.S. 459, 464, 463 (2006) (per curiam);
citation omitted). Put differently, federal-court authority
to review a state court's judgement lies exclusively with
the United States Supreme Court. See Exxon Mobil Corp. v.
Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 292 (2005)
(“Because § 1257, as long interpreted, vests
authority to review a state court's judgment solely in
this Court, the District Courts in Rooker and
Feldman lacked subject-matter jurisdiction.”
(citations omitted)); see also Hale v. Harney, 786
F.2d 688, 691 (5th Cir. 1986) (“Judicial errors
committed in state courts are for correction in the state
court systems, at the head of which stands the United State
this doctrine, a federal district court lacks jurisdiction to
consider “cases brought by state-court losers
complaining of injuries caused by state-court judgments
rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and
inviting district court review and rejection of those
judgments.” Exxon, 544 U.S. 280 at 284;
see Johnson v. De Grandy, 512 U.S. 997, 1005-06
(1994) (“under [Rooker-Feldman] a party losing
in state court is barred from seeking what in substance would
be appellate review of the state judgment in a United States
district court, based on the losing party's claim that
the state judgment itself violates the loser's federal
rights” (citing D.C. Ct. App. v. Feldman, 460
U.S. 462, 482 (1983); Rooker v. Fid. Tr. Co., 263
U.S. 413, 416 (1923))); Houston v. Queen, 606
Fed.Appx. 725, 730 (5th Cir. 2015) (stating that there are
four elements to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine:
“(1) a state-court loser; (2) alleging harm caused by a
state-court judgment; (3) that was rendered before the
district court proceeding began; and (4) federal suit
requests review and reversal of the state-court
judgment.”); see also Truong v. Bank of Am.,
N.A., 717 F.3d 377, 382 (5th Cir. 2013)
(“‘Reduced to its essence, the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine holds that inferior federal
courts do not have the power to modify or reverse state court
judgments' except when authorized by Congress.”
(quoting Union Planters Bank Nat'l Ass'n v.
Salih, 369 F.3d 457, 462 (5th Cir. 2004))).
plaintiff cannot ‘circumvent this jurisdictional
limitation by asserting claims not raised in the state court
proceedings or claims framed as original claims for
relief,' if these claims are ‘inextricably
intertwined with a state judgment.'” Turner v.
Cade, 354 Fed.Appx. 108, 111 (5th Cir. 2009) (per
curiam) (quoting United States v. Shepherd, 23 F.3d
923, 924 (5th Cir. 1994); citation and internal quotation
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has
“held ‘that litigants may not obtain review of
state court actions by filing complaints about those actions
in lower federal courts cast in the form of civil rights
suits'” and that, moreover, “[t]he only
federal recourse for constitutional questions arising in
state court proceedings is application for writ of certiorari
to the United States Supreme Court.” Id.
(quoting Hale, 786 F.2d at 690-91, then citing
Liedtke v. State Bar of Tex., 18 F.3d 315, 317 (5th
Fifth Circuit has further applied the doctrine where - like
here - a plaintiff's federal civil rights lawsuit,
“stripped to essentials, is an attack on the judgment
of the state [court].” Moore v. Tex. Ct. of Crim.
App., 561 ...