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Cruise v. Hecht

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division

October 8, 2019

CHRISTINA MICHELLE CRUISE,
v.
NATHAN HECHT, et al.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          ANDREW W. AUSTIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         TO: THE HONORABLE ROBERT PITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Christina Michelle Cruise's Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Dkt. No. 2) and Financial Affidavit in Support, along with her Complaint (Dkt. No. 1). The District Court referred the above-motion to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for a determination pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Rule 1(c) of Appendix C of the Local Court Rules.

         I. APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS

         After reviewing Cruise's Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, the Court finds that she is indigent. Accordingly, the Court HEREBY GRANTS Cruise in forma pauperis status and ORDERS her Complaint be filed without pre-payment of fees or costs or giving security therefor pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). This indigent status is granted subject to a later determination that the action should be dismissed if the allegation of poverty is untrue or the action is found frivolous or malicious pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). Cruise is further advised that although she has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, a Court may, in its discretion, impose costs of court at the conclusion of this lawsuit, as in other cases. Moore v. McDonald, 30 F.3d 616, 621 (5th Cir. 1994).

         As stated below, this Court has conducted a review of the claims made in Cruise's Complaint and is recommending her claims be dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). Therefore, service upon the Defendants should be withheld pending the District Court's review of the recommendations made in this report. If the District Court declines to adopt the recommendations, then service should be issued at that time upon the Defendants.

         II. ANALYSIS

         Because Cruise has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court is required by standing order to review her Complaint under §1915(e)(2), which provides in relevant part that “the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal (I) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         Pro se complaints are liberally construed in favor of the plaintiff. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). The court must “accept as true factual allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom.” Nami v. Fauver, 82 F.3d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1996); see also Watts v. Graves, 720 F.2d 1416, 1419 (5th Cir. 1983). In deciding whether a complaint states a claim, “[t]he court's task is to determine whether the plaintiff has stated a legally cognizable claim that is plausible, not to evaluate the plaintiff's likelihood of success.” Lone Star Fund V (U.S.), L.P. v. Barclays Bank PLC, 594 F.3d 383, 387 (5th Cir. 2010). “A claim has facial plausibility when the [nonmovant] pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the [movant] is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. However, the petitioner's pro se status does not offer him “an impenetrable shield, for one acting pro se has no license to harass others, clog the judicial machinery with meritless litigation, and abuse already overloaded court dockets.” Farguson v. Mbank Houston N.A., 808 F.2d 358, 359 (5th Cir. 1986).

         Cruise has filed a 77-page civil rights lawsuit against all nine justices of the Texas Supreme Court. Cruise sues pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, complaining that the Justices violated various of her Constitutional rights in promulgating, implementing, and executing policies and practices supporting the Texas Department of Protective and Family Services, specifically related to the termination of her parental rights and removal of Cruise's children from her custody in December of 2014. Cruise's complaint against the justices is that they denied her appeal of the termination of her parental rights. She also alleges that in doing so, the justices violated various federal criminal statutes. Plaintiff's criminal claims cannot proceed because a private party has no right to enforce federal criminal statues. Bass Angler Sportsman Soc'y v. United States Steel Corp., 324 F.Supp. 412, 415 (D. Ala.), aff'd 447 F.2d 1304 (5th Cir. 1971). Therefore, Plaintiff seeks relief that this Court cannot provide and the claims she brings under various criminal statutes must be dismissed.

         Additionally, it is also well settled law that a judge enjoys absolute immunity from liability for judicial acts performed within her jurisdiction. Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547 (1967). “Few doctrines were more solidly established at common law than the immunity of judges from liability for damages for acts committed within their judicial jurisdiction.” Id. at 553-54.

This immunity applies even when the judge is accused of acting maliciously and corruptly, and it is not for the protection or benefit of a malicious or corrupt judge, but for the benefit of the public, whose interest it is that the judges should be at liberty to exercise their functions with independence and without fear of consequences.

Id. at 554 (internal quotations and citations omitted). The doctrine of absolute judicial immunity protects judges not only from liability, but also from suit. Mireless v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11 (1991). The motive of the judicial officer is irrelevant when considering absolute immunity. See Mitchell v. McBryde, 944 F.2d 229, 230 (5th Cir. 1991).

         Absolute judicial immunity is overcome in only two rather narrow sets of circumstances: first, a judge is not immune from liability for nonjudicial actions, i.e., actions not taken in the judge's judicial capacity, and second, a judge is not immune for actions, though judicial in nature, taken in complete absence of all jurisdiction. Mireless, 502 U.S. at 11-12. “A judge's acts are judicial in nature if they are ‘normally performed by a judge' and the parties affected ‘dealt with the judge in his judicial capacity.'” Boyd v. Biggers, 31 F.3d 279, 285 (5th Cir. 1994) (quoting Mireless, 502 U.S. at 12). In the case at bar, Cruise does not complain of any actions taken by the Justices that were nonjudicial in ...


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