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Camden Vicinage v. Paul J. Fishman

February 15, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kugler, United States District Judge:

NOT FOR PUBLICATION (Doc. Nos. 5, 9, & 10)


Plaintiff filed a pro se Complaint against various state government officials. Although Plaintiff's claims are unclear and his allegations are mostly incoherent, this matter appears to arise out of a state court proceeding to terminate Plaintiff's parental rights with respect to his son. This matter comes before the Court pursuant to Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction awarding him custody of his son (Doc. No. 5) and Defendants' motions to dismiss the Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Doc. Nos. 9, 10). The Court grants Defendants' motions to dismiss and denies Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction because: (1) the Complaint does not satisfy Rule 8's pleading requirements; (2) this Court does not have jurisdiction to entertain a challenge to a state court ruling; and (3) this Court does not have jurisdiction to issue a child-custody order.


Plaintiff filed the Complaint pro se in July 2010. Defendants are various government officials, including three state judges (Hon. Mary K. White, Hon. Christine Allen Jackson, Hon. Richard Hoffman), the New Jersey Attorney General (Paula T. Dow), and a New Jersey Deputy Attorney General (Mary A. Hurley).*fn1 The Complaint is mostly incoherent and provides no lucid account of why Plaintiff is suing Defendants. It asserts, for example, that Plaintiff is "a Common man of the sovereign people of flesh and blood reserve all rights under Uniform Commercial Code Article 1 Section 308 without prejudice and reserve my rights to Common Law under Article III Section 2 of the US Constitution." (Compl., at 3) (errors in original). The Complaint makes reference to various statutes, cases, and constitutional provisions ranging from the "Morroccan [sic] Treaty of 1787" to the federal statute criminalizing genocide, 18 U.S.C. § 1091. (Compl., at 3). The Complaint does not provide any clear statement of Plaintiff's claim or any factual allegations specific to Defendants. Only two paragraphs in the Complaint provide any clues regarding a coherent grievance by Plaintiff. Those paragraphs provide in their entirety:

The agents set forth in this suite have the plaintiff's son held under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act for two years, claiming jurisdiction under Uniform Law(Color of Law)after the plaintiff clearly reserved his rights to Uniform Commercial Code 1.308 reserving his rights to Common Law under Article III Section 2 of The US Constitution and Article VI of The US Constitution reserving his sovereign rights under The Morroccan Treaty of 1787. . . .

The plaintiff has endured the lose of his childs life and the pursuit of happieness of his son being held by the agents within this lawsuit, who have claimed personal jurisdiction, beyond the limits of their Jurisdiction under: The Constitution of The United States of America Republic. The plaintiff demands the return of his son and all liable for their individual actions, having a clear knowing of the Plaintiffs Rights. (Compl. at 3, 6) (errors in original).

The Complaint does not allege any facts establishing how the Defendants came to "hold" Plaintiff's son or how their purported custody of Plaintiff's son is illegitimate or unlawful.*fn2

Soon after Plaintiff filed the Complaint, he made a motion for a preliminary injunction.

In support of that motion, Plaintiff submitted a six-page document in which he "demands the return of his son." (Compl. for Prelim. Inj., at 1). Plaintiff's submission is again incoherent. He seems to argue that he appeared before Defendants at a hearing and that Defendants lacked jurisdiction to preside over the hearing because they raised "a gold fringed flag displaying an International Admiralty Jurisdiction." (Id. at 2) (errors in original). Plaintiff also cites various provisions from the Uniform Commercial Code and argues that Defendants did not have jurisdiction over him because he did not enter into a contract with them. He requests that the Court enter an Order requiring the "return of the plaintiffs [sic] life, liberty, and property (his son Julius Ptah Osiris-El) from the individual persons titled in this injunction, that kidnapped the plaintiffs [sic] son under Unconstitutional Laws." (Id. at 5). Other than Plaintiff's six-page statement, he does not submit any evidence in support of his motion for a preliminary injunction.

On September 17, 2010, Defendants the Hon. Christine Allen Jackson, Paula T. Dow, Mary A. Hurley, Lauren Keebler, Jennifer Koehler, and Rochelle Thomas moved to dismiss the Complaint under Rule 12(b)(6). On September 24, 2010, Defendants the Hon. Richard Hoffman and the Hon. Mary K. White moved to dismiss the Complaint. They argue that Plaintiff's Complaint should be dismissed because: (1) it fails to state a claim; (2) Defendants are entitled to immunity under the Eleventh Amendment and absolute judicial immunity; and (3) even if the Court construes the Complaint as asserting a Section 1983 claim, Defendants are not "persons" within the meaning of Section 1983. Defendant the Hon. Christine Allen Jackson joins in that motion as well. Plaintiff did not file opposition to Defendants' motions to dismiss.*fn3

In support of Defendants' respective motions to dismiss, they explain that Plaintiff is currently a named party in an action to terminate his parental rights filed by the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services ("DYFS"). DYFS alleges that Plaintiff's parental rights should be terminated because he neglected his son. As of September 2010, the trial to adjudicate Plaintiff's parental rights was pending.*fn4 Pursuant to a court order, Plaintiff's son was in the care and custody of DYFS. Plaintiff made a motion to dismiss the DYFS complaint for lack of jurisdiction, but the state court denied that motion. The court found that because Plaintiff's son was a resident of New Jersey at the time of the neglect-and-abuse proceedings, the court therefore had jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Plaintiff did not appeal that decision.


Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a court may dismiss an action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. With a motion to dismiss, "'courts accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.'" Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008)). Because Plaintiff represents himself, the Court must construe the Complaint "liberally" and Plaintiff must be "held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Brown v. City of Long Branch, 380 Fed.App' x. 235, 238 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)). Nevertheless, "[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint -- even a pro se complaint -- 'must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Thakar v. Tan, ...

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