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Martin v. Joyce

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Central Division

March 13, 2017

PATRICIA JOYCE, et al., Defendants.


          NANETTE K. LAUGHREY United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Matthew Martin has sued Defendants Patricia Joyce, Daniel Green, and Robert Schollmeyer, who are state court judges, for damages and injunctive relief in connection with various rulings they entered in cases in which he was a party. Doc. 8 (Amended Complaint). Before the Court are Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and lack of subject matter jurisdiction, Doc. 10, and Martin's motion for a hearing on his request for preliminary injunction, Doc. 14. Defendants' motion to dismiss is granted and Martin's motion for a hearing is denied as moot.

         I. Background [1]

         Martin's claims center around rulings made by the Defendants between December 2014 and January 2017 in three civil cases in the Cole County, Missouri Circuit court involving Martin: a divorce case, no. 14AC-FC00740, and two adult abuse cases, nos. 14AC-FC00697 and 15AC-FC01181. Doc. 8, p. 4.

         Specifically, Martin alleges that his wife filed for divorce, case no. 14AC-FC00740, and in the course of that case “made an unsubstantiated claim of domestic violence against” him. Id., p. 5. As a result of that claim, Martin was arrested and criminally charged. Based on the pending criminal charges, his wife then sought an order of protection, case no. 14AC-FC00697, and Judge Green entered a full order of protection on July 17, 2014. Id.

         In October 2014, Judge Joyce ordered in the divorce case that Martin's wife would have temporary custody of the couple's daughter and ordered Martin to pay child support through payroll withholding. A week later, the criminal charges against Martin were dismissed nolle prosequi.[2] Martin filed a motion in the divorce case for rehearing of the temporary custody and child support orders. Judge Joyce held a hearing on November 17, 2014 regarding a request by Martin's counsel to withdraw and granted it, but did not rule on the motion for rehearing. Then on January 27, 2015, Judge Joyce held Martin in contempt of court for failure to pay child support.

         On February 19, 2015, Judge Green denied Martin's motion to dismiss the order of protection that had been entered in case no. 14AC-FC00697.

         Judge Joyce entered a divorce decree and awarded full custody of Martin's daughter to his ex-wife on April 23, 2015. Martin alleges, “Reference [sic] the alleged incident in [the criminal] case … as punishment against me, used incorrect values in my retirement accounts and did not recognize my expenses related to charges in [the criminal] case …. Judge Joyce would also affirm her earlier findings of contempt of court.” Id. “Garnishment of…monies [in Martin's] account” began on May 14, 2015. Id.[3]

         The full order of protection that Judge Green ordered in case no. 14AC-FC00697 expired by its express terms on July 17, 2015, and was not renewed.

         In September 2015, Martin's ex-wife filed a second adult abuse case against Martin and an ex parte order was issued, case no. 15AC-FC01181. Judge Joyce held a hearing and entered a full protection order against Martin in November 2015.[4] On January 5, 2017, in the same case, Judge Schollmeyer issued an ex parte order of protection against Martin. Martin filed a motion for “a trial for Jury selection” on January 11, 2017, but Judge Schollmeyer did not rule on it. Id.

         Martin filed a motion for new trial in the adult abuse case before Judge Green, no. 14AC-FC00697, on December 12, 2016, “to hear the new evidence in the case.” Id. Judge Green denied the motion on January 17, 2017, stating he had no jurisdiction or statutory authority to grant it.

         Martin filed his complaint in this Court on December 8, 2016. He alleges that the various orders entered by Defendants were “wrong, ” “baseless and bias[ed], ” “not based on rational facts, ” and violated his rights under the Fifth, Seventh, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Id., p. 6. He alleges irreparable injury because his ex-wife is not providing their child with medical treatment; he has been publicly defamed by the orders of protection; and he has his own medical treatment to pay for. He asks for injunctive relief in the form of: cancellation of the child support and custody that were ordered in case 14AC-FC00740; return of the child support monies already garnished from his accounts; an order prohibiting his ex-wife from “selling or changing any joint property awarded to her” in the divorce; “suppress[ion]” of the protection orders issued by Defendants; and an injunction preventing Judge Joyce from ruling on any case involving him or his property in the future. Id. He also asks for $110, 000 in actual damages for property loss, legal expenses, and estimated medical expenses, and $5, 000, 000 in punitive damages “to prevent this type of violation[] in the future.” Id.

         In March 2017, Judges Joyce and Schollmeyer recused themselves from case nos. 14AC-FC00740 (the divorce case) and 15AC-FCF01181 (the second adult abuse case). The Hon. Ada Brehe-Krueger was assigned to the cases pursuant to order of the Missouri Supreme Court.

         II. ...

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