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McGuire v. Edwards

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

January 30, 2018

DR. PATT MCGUIRE, Plaintiff,
JERRY EDWARDS, et al., Defendants.



         This case is before the Court on review of the file following removal. Pro se plaintiff Dr. Patt McGuire has filed several documents and motions following removal, including a letter to the Court received January 29, 2018 (Doc. 8), attached to which is an unofficial copy of a state court docket sheet from Missouri As a threshold matter, the Court is aware that specifically cautions, “The information available on is provided as a service and is not considered an official court record.” Missouri General Help (emphasis added).[1]

         The unofficial state court docket sheet shows that plaintiff filed suit in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, State of Missouri, on December 18, 2017, against two defendants, Jerry Edwards and St. Louis County, Missouri. Counsel for defendant Edwards filed an entry of appearance in state court on January 8, 2018. Defendant St. Louis County, Missouri filed a motion to dismiss for insufficiency of process and lack of jurisdiction in state court on January 10, 2018. On January 17, 2018, defendant Edwards removed the action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1441(a) and 1446.[2]

         A. Defendant Edwards Must Supplement the Record

         It appears from the unofficial state court docket sheet that defendant Edwards failed to file with this Court upon removal “a copy of all process, pleadings, and orders served upon such defendant . . . in such action, ” as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1446(1). Removal statutes are to be strictly construed. Nichols v. Harbor Venture, Inc., 284 F.3d 857, 861 (8th Cir. 2002). Defendant Edwards will be ordered to file a Supplement to his Notice of Removal that (1) includes as attachments thereto copies of all records and proceedings that took place in the state court up to the time the Notice to State Court and Plaintiff of Filing of Notice of Removal was filed, see 28 U.S.C. §§ 1447(b), 1446(d);[3] and (2) specifically identifies for the Clerk of the Court all motions that were pending in the state court at the time of removal.

         B. The Court Will Not Advise Plaintiff

         Plaintiff's letter (Doc. 8) asks the Court to explain and clarify activity in this case both in state court and in federal court. Among other things, plaintiff asks the Court to explain the meaning of a January 25, 2018 state court docket entry titled Default Judgment shown on the listing. The Court will not advise plaintiff in the manner she requests, now or in the future. “District judges have no obligation to act as counsel or paralegal to pro se litigants.” Pliler v. Ford, 542 U.S. 225, 231 (2004). See also Martinez v. Court of Appeal of Cal., Fourth Appellate Dist., 528 U.S. 152, 162 (2000) (“[T]he trial judge is under no duty to provide personal instruction on courtroom procedure or to perform any legal ‘chores' for [a pro se litigant] that counsel would normally carry out”). It would “undermine district judges' role as impartial decisionmakers” for district courts to advise pro se litigants about “tasks normally and properly performed by trained counsel as a matter of course” as requested by plaintiff here. See Pliler, 542 U.S. at 231.

         C. The State Court Lost Jurisdiction Upon Removal

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446(d), the state court lost jurisdiction when defendant Edwards filed the Notice to State Court and Plaintiff of Filing of Notice of Removal. See Ward v. Resolution Trust Corp., 972 F.2d 196, 198 (8th Cir. 1992) (federal district court gains jurisdiction upon proper removal from state court; after removal, only the federal district court can restore jurisdiction to the state court, and after removal the state court can proceed no further and its orders are void). As a result, any motions, pleadings, or other documents filed by plaintiff or any other party in state court after that time are not part of the record in federal court and are of no effect in this case.

         Further, any orders issued by the state court after removal was effected are void for lack of jurisdiction. Id.; see also 16 James Wm. Moore, et al., Moore's Federal Practice § 107.141[2] (3d ed. 2016) (“Any state court action after the filing of the removal notice is void abinitio[.]”) (citing, among other cases, Ward, 972 F.2d at 198). The prohibition against state courts taking any action following removal, however, “does not bar state courts from performing ministerial acts that do not affect the merits of the dispute between the parties.” 16 Moore's Federal Practice § 107.141[2].

         D. Certain of Plaintiff's Motions Will be Denied 1. Motion for Leave

         Plaintiff has filed a Motion for Leave (Doc. 6), which the Court construes as a motion for leave to file an amended complaint. This motion will be denied without prejudice. Any proposed amended complaint that requires leave of Court for filing, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 15 (a)(1), (2), must be submitted along with a motion for leave to file the amended complaint. See E.D. Mo. Administrative Procedures for Case Management/Electronic Case Filing, § II.B. (available on the Court's website).

         The Court also notes that the unofficial state court docket sheet shows plaintiff filed an Amended Petition in state court on January 18, 2018, the day after the case was removed to federal court. As a result, the Amended Petition filed in state court and any other post-removal filings in state court are not part of the federal court record and have no effect on the federal case. 2. Motion to Uphold State Court Ruling of Default Judgment Plaintiff filed a motion that asserts the state court granted a default judgment in her favor and asks this Court to uphold it (Doc. 11). The motion will be denied. The Court takes judicial notice of the unofficial state court record as it appears on Missouri

         Plaintiff's motion is based on a misunderstanding or mischaracterization of the state court's action. Although the January 25, 2018 docket entry that plaintiff refers to is labeled “Default Judgment” on, the text of that entry does not contain or refer to an entry of default judgment. Instead, it states: “Copy of Order dated 1/25/2018 was mailed to Dr. Patt McGuire, Priscilla Gunn, ACC, and Henry Luepke, AAG.” Immediately following on is an entry titled “Order.” This is the order dated January 25, 2018, to which the ...

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