United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
pro se, Omri Yigal asks this Court to reverse the
state of Georgia's custody decision to remove his young
daughter from his care under the guise of a civil rights
complaint. Doc. 1 at 4-5 (alleging that child services
“contentiously took the plaintiff's daughter from
her caring home, loving father, and her only caretaker all
the days of her life, ” causing him extreme distress
and subjecting him to a demanding schedule of psychological
evaluations and parenting classes to demonstrate his
suitability to regain custody). He asks the Court to
“remand[ ] custody” of his daughter, id.
at 5, and strike the state court's order granting legal
custody of his daughter to his sister, id. at 35.
Complaint must be dismissed, as there is no basis for federal
jurisdiction over it. Federal courts simply have no power to
consider claims for which they lack subject-matter
jurisdiction. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of
Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994); Bender v.
Williamsport Area Sch. Dist., 475 U.S. 534, 541 (1986);
see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3) (mandating
dismissal “[i]f the court determines at any time that
it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction”). Subjects of
divorce, custody, and alimony are within the
exclusive jurisdiction of the state courts, and
under almost all circumstances the federal courts lack
jurisdiction to intervene in these disputes. See
Ankenbrandt v. Richards, 504 U.S. 689, 695-700 (1992)
(explaining “longstanding rule” that
“federal courts lack jurisdiction over certain domestic
relations matters”); Barber v. Barber, 62 U.S.
582 (1858); In re Burrus, 136 U.S. 586, 594 (1890).
This Court also must abstain from interfering with the
functioning of the state courts in issuing and enforcing
child custody decrees. Ankenbrandt, 504 U.S. at
is a second jurisdictional roadblock to plaintiff's
Complaint. This Court is not empowered to sit as an appellate
court to review the final decisions of state courts. See
Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923);
District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman,
460 U.S. 462 (1983); see also Verizon Md. Inc. v. Pub.
Serv. Comm'n of Md., 535 U.S. 635, 644, n. 3 (2002)
(“The Rooker-Feldman doctrine merely
recognizes that 28 U.S.C. § 1331 is a grant of original
jurisdiction, and does not authorize district courts to
exercise appellate jurisdiction over state-court judgments,
which Congress has reserved to this Court, see
§ 1257(a).”). The only federal court that can
review judgments entered by a state court in civil litigation
is the Supreme Court of the United States. See 28
U.S.C. § 1257. Lower federal courts (in almost all
cases) lack subject-matter jurisdiction when the state
court's judgment is the source of the plaintiff's
alleged injury. Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic
Industries Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 291-92 (2005).
plaintiff has not articulated any cognizable federal claim
over which this Court may assert jurisdiction, dismissal is
recommended. Bender, 475 U.S. at 541;
Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377. Though the Court would
normally give plaintiff an opportunity to amend his complaint
to correct these deficiencies, it is clear that no possible
amendment could invoke this Court's jurisdiction over his
claims. Because amendment would be futile, his motion for
appointment of counsel (doc. 3) is moot and dismissal with
prejudice is appropriate. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(h)(3) (“If the court determines at any time that it
lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the
action”); see also Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp.,
546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006) (“[W]hen a federal court
concludes that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the
court must dismiss the complaint in its entirety”).
Report and Recommendation (R&R) is submitted to the
district judge assigned to this action, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B) and this Court's Local Rule 72.3.
Within 14 days of service, any party may file written
objections to this R&R with the Court and serve a copy on
all parties. The document should be captioned
“Objections to Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendations.” Any request for additional time to
file objections should be filed with the Clerk for
consideration by the assigned district judge.
the objections period has ended, the Clerk shall submit this
R&R together with any objections to the assigned district
judge. The district judge will review the magistrate
judge's findings and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(C). The parties are advised that failure to
timely file objections will result in the waiver of rights on
appeal. 11th Cir. R. 3-1; see Symonett v. V.A. Leasing
Corp., 648 F. App'x 787, 790 (11th Cir. 2016);
Mitchell v. U.S., 612 F. App'x 542, 545 (11th
REPORTED AND RECOMMENDED.
 In cases where the plaintiff is
proceeding in forma pauperis, which the Court
GRANTS here on indigency grounds (doc. 2),
it is required to screen each case, and must dismiss it at
any time if the Court determines either that the allegation
of poverty is untrue or that the action or appeal is
frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
See, e.g., Langlois v.
Traveler's Ins. Co., 401 F. App'x 425, 426-27
(11th Cir. 2010) (even though IFP's litigant's
pro se complaint failed to state basis for federal
jurisdiction and failed to state a claim, and she failed to
seek leave to amend her complaint, nevertheless she should
have been afforded an opportunity to amend deficiencies prior
to dismissal, where no undue time had elapsed, and no undue
prejudice could be shown); Cockrell v. Sparks, 510