United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
H. Miller Senior United States District Judge
before the Court is a pro se pleading filed by
Brandy Brenay Charles-Whitfield. (Docket Entry No. 1.) The
101-page pleading contains various narratives, arguments, and
photocopies of court decisions and other materials. The Court
has screened the pleading and finds that Charles-Whitfield
seeks habeas relief under section 2241 and civil relief under
reviewed the pleading, matters of public record, and the
applicable law, the Court DISMISSES this lawsuit for the
reasons that follow.
Under Section 1983
complains that state courts and state agencies failed to
follow state law, unlawfully “kidnapped” her
minor son, K.L.W., from her home, made false allegations of
abuse and neglect, appointed counsel without allowing her to
choose her own (free) counsel, and generally erred in
terminating her parental rights to K.L.W.
alleged constitutional claims under section 1983 stem from
the removal of her child and termination of her parental
rights. However, her primary complaint appears to be that the
state trial court failed to pronounce a final order of
termination in open court at trial. A final, written
decree of termination was entered by the state trial court
and was upheld by the intermediate state court of appeals:
This is an appeal from the trial court's final decree for
termination in a suit brought by the Department of Family and
Protective Services (“DFPS”) to terminate the
parent-child relationship between appellants and K.L.W.
(“the child”). In its decree, the trial court
terminated both parents' parental rights, and appointed
DFPS as sole managing conservator of the child. Both the
father, R.D.W., and the mother, B.B.C., filed notices of
appeal, and the trial court appointed separate counsel on
their behalves to prosecute this appeal. Both the father and
the mother's court-appointed appellate counsel have moved
to withdraw and filed separate Anders briefs,
stating that, in their professional opinions, this appeal is
without merit and that there are no arguable grounds for
we affirm the trial court's termination decree.
the Interest of K.L.W., a Child, No. 01-18-00485-CV,
*1-3 (Tex. App. - Houston [1st Dist.] Dec. 5, 2018, pet.
ref'd). The Texas Supreme Court subsequently refused
clear that Charles-Whitfield is attempting to set aside the
final decree of termination by casting her procedural and
substantive challenges to the state courts and agencies'
actions as section 1983 claims. This misuse of the federal
district courts is prohibited under the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine, which bars a federal court
from entertaining collateral attacks on state court
judgments. Under this doctrine, “lower federal courts
are precluded from exercising appellate jurisdiction over
final state-court judgments.” Lance v. Dennis,
546 U.S. 459, 463 (2006) (per curiam). If the federal
district court “is confronted with issues that are
‘inextricably intertwined' with a state judgment,
the court is in essence being called upon to review the
state-court decision, and the originality of the district
court's jurisdiction precludes such a review.”
United States v. Shepherd, 23 F.3d 923, 924 (5th
Cir. 1994) (internal quotations omitted).
arguments that various state courts, agencies and employees
failed to follow Texas law and acted with false grounds to
keep her child render her section 1983 claims
“inextricably intertwined” with the state court
judgment. Resolving these claims would require this Court to
review the merits of the state court's termination
proceedings, which the Court may not do. See District of
Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 486
section 1983 claims are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE as barred
by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.
additionally claims entitlement to habeas relief under
section 2241, and she paid the $5.00 habeas filing fee. Where
both habeas and section 1983 claims are brought in the same
lawsuit, the district court is required to separate the
claims and decide the section 1983 claims. Patton v.
Jefferson Corr. Ctr., 136 F.3d 458, ...