United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Waycross Division
THOMAS L. THOMAS, on behalf of Artheray D. Thomas, Petitioner,
DORENE DISANTO; and MIKE DEWINE, Respondents.
ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
STAN BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Thomas Thomas (“Thomas”), proceeding pro
se, has filed a cause of action seeking habeas corpus
and coram nobis relief pursuant to the All Writs Act, 28
U.S.C. § 1651, and 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. 1.) Thomas
has also filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma
Pauperis, a Motion to Forward State Records, and a
Motion for Process of Service. (Docs. 2, 3, 4.) For the
reasons which follow, the Court DISMISSES as moot Thomas'
Motions for Leave to Proceed in Forma
Pauperis[], to Forward State Records,
and for Process of Service. For these same reasons, I
RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS this cause of action and DIRECT
the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case.
filed his Petition on January 12, 2017. (Doc. 1.) He asserts
that his son is being “unlawfully restrained” of
his liberty as a result of child custody proceedings in the
State of Ohio. (Id. at p. 3.) Thomas requests that
this Court reverse the unlawful and invalid orders the Ohio
state courts have issued. (Id. at p. 11.) Thomas
names as Respondents Dorene Disanto, the mother of his son
and a resident of the State of Ohio, and Mike DeWine, the
Attorney General for the State of Ohio. Thomas raises several
issues in his Petition, which the Court addresses in turn.
Whether Thomas Filed his Petition in the Proper
is challenging child custody proceedings arising in the State
of Ohio. Because he is challenging child custody proceedings
and he names residents of Ohio as Respondents, his Petition
should have been filed in the Northern District of Ohio,
Eastern Division, rather than in the Waycross Division of
this Court. 28 U.S.C. § 115(a)(1); Ramirez v.
Hastings, No. CV214-085, 2015 WL 1022363, at *2 (S.D.
Ga. Mar. 9, 2015) (“[A] habeas petition . . . generally
is available only for challenging the execution of a sentence
or the nature of confinement, ‘not the validity of the
sentence itself or the fact of confinement, ' and is
filed in the district of” the alleged unlawful
detention.) (internal citation omitted). A district court may
raise the issue of defective venue sua sponte.
Collins v. Hagel, No. 1:13-CV-2051-WSD, 2015 WL
5691076, at *1 (N.D.Ga. Sept. 28, 2015) (citing
Kapordelis v. Danzig, 387 F. App'x 905, 906-07
(11th Cir. 2010) (affirming sua sponte transfer,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a), of pro se
prisoner's civil rights action from New York to Georgia);
Berry v. Salter, 179 F.Supp.2d 1345, 1350 (M.D. Ala.
2001); cf. Lipofsky v. New York State Workers Comp.
Bd., 861 F.2d 1257, 1259 (11th Cir. 1988); and Nalls
v. Coleman Low Fed. Inst., 440 F. App'x 704, 706
(11th Cir. 2011)). When venue is improper, a court
“shall dismiss, or if it be in the interest of justice,
transfer such case to any district . . . in which it could
have been brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a).
“The court may transfer the case if (1) the proposed
transferee court is one in which the action ‘could have
been brought' and (2) transfer would be ‘in the
interest of justice.'” Leach v. Peacock,
Civil Action No. 2:09cv738-MHT, 2011 WL 1130596, at *4 (M.D.
Ala. Mar. 25, 2011) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a)). Trial
courts generally have broad discretion in determining whether
to transfer or dismiss a case. Id. (citing
England v. ITT Thompson Indus., Inc., 856 F.2d 1518,
1520 (11th Cir. 1988)). Ordinarily, this Court would transfer
this case, in the interest of justice, as venue is not proper
in this Court.
as explained below, in this case, the interest of justice
would not be served by transferring this case to the Northern
District of Ohio, Eastern Division. Thomas' Petition
would be subject to dismissal in that court for the reasons
which follow, and thus, transferring this case to another
district would be futile. Accordingly, the Court should
DISMISS Thomas' Petition on the basis of improper venue.
Whether This Court can Review State Court
is essentially requesting that this Court review child
custody proceedings which occurred within the State of Ohio.
However, this Court is without jurisdiction to do so.
to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the Court is without
jurisdiction over claims which essentially seek review of a
state court judgment. “The Rooker-Feldman
doctrine derives from Rooker v. Fidelity Trust
Company, 263 U.S. 413 (1923), and District of
Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462
(1983), and provides that, as a general matter, federal
district courts lack jurisdiction to review a final state
court decision.” McCorvey v. Weaver, 620 F.
App'x 881, 882 (11th Cir. 2015). Nor under the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine may a federal court
“decide federal issues that are raised in state
proceedings and ‘inextricably intertwined' with the
state court's judgment.” Datz v. Kilgore,
51 F.3d 252, 253 (11th Cir. 1995) (quoting Staley v.
Ledbetter, 837 F.2d 1016, 1018 (11th Cir. 1988)).
“Rooker-Feldman applies because, among the
federal courts, Congress authorized only the [United States]
Supreme Court to reverse or modify a state court
decision.” Helton v. Ramsay, 566 F. App'x
876, 877 (11th Cir. 2014) (citing Exxon Mobil Corp. v.
Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005)). Put
succinctly, this Court is not an appeals court to which a
losing or disgruntled state court party can appeal an
unfavorable decision. This Court and other federal courts
frequently find that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine
prevents federal courts from hearing claims based on a state
court's custody determination or parental rights'
termination. See, e.g., Goodman ex rel. Goodman
v. Sipos, 259 F.3d 1327, 1334 (11th Cir. 2001) (finding
that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine barred jurisdiction
over the plaintiffs' due process claims against state
officials because the success of those claims would require
finding that the state court wrongly decided to terminate the
plaintiffs' parental rights and wrongly denied their
petition for return of custody); Taylor v. Randolph,
594 F. App'x 578 (11th Cir. 2014)
(Rooker-Feldman doctrine barred mother's claims
against state court judges and employees of sheriff's
office and child protection agency, alleging that
defendants' decisions in child-custody proceedings and
child well-being matters violated her and her child's
fundamental rights); Plunkett v. Rountree, No.
CV214-015, 2015 WL 1505970, at *12 (S.D. Ga. Mar. 31, 2015)
(dismissing claims based on juvenile court's removal of
plaintiff's children, the litigation in juvenile court,
and the treatment of her children in foster care); Daw v.
Cowan, No. 3:11CV96/RV/EMT, 2013 WL 5838683, at *5 (N.D.
Fla. Oct. 30, 2013) (“[T]o the extent Plaintiff seeks
review of any final judgments issued by the state court,
including those that terminated her parental rights, this
court lacks jurisdiction over the matter.”). Further,
the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has “also
determined those officers and other government personnel
acting pursuant to, or in concert with, child-custody or
child well-being proceedings fall within the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine because their acts are
inextricably intertwined with state court judgments.”
Taylor, 594 F. App'x at 580 (citing
Goodman, 259 F.3d at 1334.)
Thomas is seeking review of child custody proceedings in the
State of Ohio, this Court lacks jurisdiction over the matter.
Thus, the Court should DISMISS Thomas' Petition for lack
of jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.
Whether the All Writs Act is Applicable
Writs Act permits courts to “issue all writs necessary
or appropriate in aid of their . . . jurisdictions and
agreeable to the usages and principles of law.” 28
U.S.C. § 1651(a). A petition seeking relief under the
All Writs Act is a collateral proceeding and is not
predicated on a specific cause of action. Klay v. United
HealthGroup, Inc., 376 F.3d 1092, 1100 (11th Cir. 2004).
Rather, the movant “must simply point to some ongoing
proceeding, or some past order or judgment [of the court],
the integrity of which is being threatened by someone
else's action or behavior.” Id. However,
“[w]here a statute specifically addresses the
particular issue at hand, it is that authority, and not the
All Writs Act, that is controlling. Although that Act
empowers federal courts to fashion extraordinary remedies
when the need arises, it does not authorize them to issue ad
hoc writs whenever compliance with statutory procedures
appears inconvenient or less appropriate.” Pa.
Bureau of Corr. v. United States Marshals Serv., 474
U.S. 34, 43 (1985).
noted throughout this Report, this Court lacks jurisdiction
to address the merits of Thomas' Petition. Thomas also
fails to establish that the integrity of the state court
proceedings has been threatened by another party or that he
lacks other avenues of relief. Consequently, Thomas cannot
use the All Writs Act to attack child custody proceedings in
this Court. The fact that Thomas was ultimately unable to
obtain relief through the courts in the State of Ohio does
not provide grounds for the Court to invoke the All Writs
Act. Id. (affirming district court's dismissal
of petitioner's collateral attack on his conviction,
brought pursuant to the All Writs Act, as a successive habeas
petition “[b]ecause [petitioner] could not circumvent
the statutory requirements for filing a successive [28
U.S.C.] § 2254 petition by invoking the All Writs
Act[.]”). Here, Thomas asks this Court to invalidate