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Bey v. Washington County Sheriff's Office

United States District Court, District Circuit

October 28, 2013

Justin King Bey, Plaintiff,
v.
Washington County Sheriffs Office et al., Defendants

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the Court on review of plaintiff s pro se complaint and application to proceed in forma pauperis. The Court will grant plaintiffs application to proceed in forma pauperis and will dismiss this action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3) (requiring the court to dismiss an action "at any time" it determines that subject matter jurisdiction is wanting).

Plaintiff is a resident of Albany, New York, suing Magistrate Stan L. Pritzer of the Washington County Supreme Court in Fort Edward, New York, as well as other court officers and the Sheriffs Office there. In addition, plaintiff sues the State of New York and Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. The complaint stems from alleged court proceedings in which plaintiff refused to participate without first obtaining, among other documents, the oath of office of Support Magistrate Donald H. Clark, Jr., also a named defendant, and "the insurance bond for him." See Compl. at 9, ¶¶ 12-19. Following Clark's continuances of plaintiff s proceedings, plaintiff appeared before Pritzer who allegedly "began to mock [his] situation by saying .. . '[y]ou continue to ask for things that make no sense.' " Id. ¶ 20. Plaintiff, an "Indigenous Moorish American National, " alleges that he was "then" sentenced to 15 days' imprisonment "for a debt, ... assaulted and kidnapped by the Washington County Sheriffs Department[] brought to Washington County Jail, " and "forced ... to identify [himself] as an artificial person with a Social Security Number." Id. ¶¶ 22-24. Plaintiff further alleges that "[t]hey then took my possessions from me, then dressed and treated me like a slave." Id. ¶ 24. The complaint, styled as a "Tort Claim, " id. at 9, continues in this manner and concludes with a demand for monetary damages from each defendant, the most totaling $3.1 million from the State of New York. See Compl. at 29-30.

The Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution immunizes a state from suit in federal court, unless immunity is waived.[1] See College Sav. Bank v. Florida Prepaid Postsecondary Educ. Expense Bd., 527 U.S. 666, 675-76 (1999); Keenan v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 643 F.Supp. 324, 327-28 (D.D.C. 1986) (citing cases). A waiver is found "only where stated 'by the most express language or by such overwhelming implications from the test as [will] leave no room for any other reasonable construction.' " Morris v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 781 F.2d 218, 221 (D.C. Cir. 1986) (internal citations omitted). The complaint reveals no basis for this Court to exercise jurisdiction over the State of New York and Governor Cuomo in his official capacity.

As for the remaining defendants, plaintiff has alleged no credible facts to bring the complaint within the court's "federal question" jurisdiction, see 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and has indeed styled the complaint as a tort action. Since plaintiff and the defendants reside in New York, diversity jurisdiction is also lacking. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332 (requiring the matter in controversy to exceed $75, 000 and to be between citizens of different states). Furthermore, the law is clear that "federal courts are without power to entertain claims otherwise within their jurisdiction if [as here] they are 'so attenuated and unsubstantial as to be absolutely devoid of merit.' " Hagans v. Lavine, 415 U.S. 528, 536-7 (1974) (quoting Newburyport Water Co. v. Newburyport, 193 U.S. 561, 579 (1904)); accord Tooley v. Napolitano, 586 F.3d 1006, 1009 (D.C. Cir. 2009) ("A complaint may be dismissed on jurisdictional grounds when it "is 'patently insubstantial, ' presenting no federal question suitable for decision.") (quoting Best v. Kelly, 39 F.3d 328, 330 (D.C. Cir. 1994)).[1] A separate order of dismissal accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.


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