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Martin v. Brehe-Krueger

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

October 26, 2017

MATTHEW RAY MARTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
ADA BREHE-KRUEGER, and COLE COUNTY COURT, Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION (1) GRANTING DEFENDANT BREHE-KRUEGER'S MOTION TO DISMISS, (2) DISMISSING PLAINTIFF'S REMAINING CLAIMS, AND (3) FINDING AS MOOT PLAINTIFF'S EMERGENCY MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

          ORTRIE D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE

         Pending are Plaintiff's Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction (Doc. #6), and Defendant Ada Brehe-Krueger's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #9). For the following reasons, Defendant Ada Brehe-Krueger's Motion to Dismiss is granted, and Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Ada Brehe-Krueger are dismissed. The Court also dismisses Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Cole County Court (and Cole County, to the extent Plaintiff is attempting to bring claims against the county). With the Court's dismissal of all claims, Plaintiff's request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction is rendered moot.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, who is pro se, filed this matter against Judge Ada Brehe-Krueger and the Circuit Court of Cole County, Missouri, alleging Defendants violated his civil rights “by refusing to hear any evidence as it relates to the judgement (sic) based on fraud on the Court and is no[w] threatening jail…to enforce the unconstitutional relief.” Doc. #1, at 2. Plaintiff asks this Court to enjoin Judge Brehe-Krueger “from executing and acting on any judgements (sic), orders or mandate issued against [Plaintiff] in Cole [C]ounty.” Doc. #6, at 2-3. Plaintiff also asks the Court to order the return of property taken from him as a result of the allegedly fraudulent judgement (sic), ” and award him actual and/or punitive damages. Doc. #1, at 2.

         Plaintiff's claims arise from two state court matters. First, the 2014 state court matter (Case No. 14AC-FC00740), which was filed in the Circuit Court of Cole County, pertains to the dissolution of Plaintiff's marriage to Nicole Lynn Martin. Doc. #12, at 1-2.[1] Plaintiff appealed the circuit court's entry of contempt against him as well as the dissolution judgment to the Missouri Court of Appeals. Martin v. Martin, Case No. WD79044. The Court of Appeals dismissed Plaintiff's appeal as it related to the contempt order because that order was never enforced, and affirmed the circuit court's dissolution judgment.[2] Id. Second, the 2016 state court matter (Case No. 16AC-CC00166), which was also filed in the Circuit Court of Cole County, is a defamation claim brought by Plaintiff against Nicole Lynn Martin. That matter remains open, and Defendant's motion for summary judgment is pending.

         In December 2016, Plaintiff initiated a civil action in the Central Division of this Court. Case No. 16-4319-NKL. Plaintiff alleged Patricia Joyce, a state court judge in the Circuit Court of Cole County violated his rights under the Fifth, Seventh, and Fourteenth Amendments when she issued rulings in state court proceedings. Doc. #1 (Case No. 16-4319). Plaintiff later amended his complaint to include additional allegations against Judge Joyce related to decisions she made in the 2014 state court matter and other matters. Doc. #5, at 5-6 (Case No. 16-4319). He further amended his complaint to include similar allegations against two more state court judges: Judge Daniel Richard Green and Judge Robert D. Schollmeyer. Doc. #8 (Case No. 16-4139).

         Defendants sought to dismiss that matter. In granting Defendants' motion to dismiss, Judge Laughrey of this Court found Defendants were entitled to absolute judicial immunity, and the Rooker-Feldman and Younger doctrines applied, and therefore, the matter was dismissed. Doc. #22 (Case No. 16-4319). In her decision, Judge Laughrey noted Judges Joyce and Schollmeyer recused from the 2014 state court matter. Id. at 4. But it was then assigned to Judge Brehe-Krueger, a defendant in this matter. Id. After Judge Schollmeyer recused from the 2016 state court matter, Judge Brehe-Krueger was assigned to preside over that matter. Judge Brehe-Krueger, as of the date of this Order, still presides over both matters.

         Judge Brehe-Krueger seeks to dismiss Plaintiff's claims in this matter. Doc. #9. Plaintiff opposes Judge Brehe-Krueger's motion. Doc. #12. The motion is now ripe for consideration. In addition to Judge Brehe-Krueger's motion, the Court also considers Plaintiff's claims against the Circuit Court of Cole County.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Plaintiff's Claims Against Judge Brehe-Krueger

         Judge Brehe-Krueger makes several arguments for dismissal of Plaintiff's claims against her. Among other grounds, Judge Brehe-Krueger argues the Rooker-Feldman doctrine applies, and she is protected from suit by judicial immunity.

         (1) Rooker-Feldman Doctrine

         Judge Brehe-Krueger argues the Rooker-Feldman doctrine precludes the Court from exercising jurisdiction (that is, legal authority) over Plaintiff's claims. A lower federal court is generally without jurisdiction to hear “challenges to state court decisions in particular cases arising out of judicial proceedings even if those challenges allege that that state court's action was unconstitutional.” Dist. of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 486 (1983). Federal courts, with the exception of the United States Supreme Court, do not have jurisdiction over an appeal of a state appellate court decision. Id.; see also 28 U.S.C. § 1257; Keene Corp. v. Cass, 908 F.2d 293, 296 (8th Cir. 1990). The Eighth Circuit holds the Rooker-Feldman doctrine precludes jurisdiction over “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.” Edwards v. City of Jonesboro, 645 F.3d 1014, 1018 (8th Cir. 2011) (citing Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005)).[3]

         Plaintiff seeks redress with this Court because Judge Brehe-Krueger allegedly “refus[ed] to hear any evidence” in a state court proceeding, and “refused to…explain why [she] ruled” the way she did in a state court proceeding. Doc. #1, at 2-3. Plaintiff also argues the judgment entered by Judge Brehe-Krueger in a state court proceeding was “fraudulent.” Id. at 2. He asks the Court to “[g]rant an immediate injunction before the ...


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