United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
C. POPLIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b) and the Rules of this Court on Plaintiff's
Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis [Doc. 1],
filed on January 28, 2019. The undersigned files this Report
and Recommendation for the District Judge to whom this case
is assigned. For the reasons more fully stated below, the
Court finds that Plaintiff shall be allowed to file his
Complaint without prepayment of costs, but the Court
RECOMMENDS that the Complaint be
DISMISSED without prejudice for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction.
FILINGS AND ALLEGATIONS
has filed an Application to Proceed In Forma
Pauperis, with the required detailing of his financial
condition. [Doc. 1]. The application demonstrates that
Plaintiff has little income and few assets.
Complaint, filed contemporaneously with the instant
application, Plaintiff avers that the Magistrate, Stan Briggs
(“Judge Briggs”), appointed an attorney to
represent Plaintiff. [Doc. 2 at 6]. The attorney, Scott Hahn
(“Hahn”), failed to fully represent Plaintiff and
knowingly violated Plaintiff's civil rights.
[Id.]. Plaintiff alleges that Judge Briggs, while
acting under the color of law, also violated Plaintiff's
civil rights. [Id.]. Plaintiff alleges that the
attorney for the State of Tennessee, John Cook
(“Cook”), asked for civil contempt, which
constitutes a blatant disregard of Plaintiff's civil
rights. [Id.]. Plaintiff also names Tennessee's
Department of Human Services (“DHS”), the child
support division, as a Defendant, alleging that it
streamlined an unlawful arrest and prosecution.
[Id.]. In support of his claim that the Court has
jurisdiction, Plaintiff cites to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 28
U.S.C. § 1651, 45 C.F.R. § 303.101(c)(4), along
with other legal and secondary sources. [Id. at 3,
Doc. 2-1 at 1-11]. In his statement of relief, Plaintiff
requests that the Court dismiss the child support order.
[Doc. 2 at 7].
to proceed in forma pauperis are governed by 28
U.S.C. § 1915. The purpose of the statute is to ensure
that indigent litigants have meaningful access to the courts.
Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989);
Adkins v. W.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 335 U.S.
331, 342 (1948). To accomplish this end, a court must
evaluate the litigant's indigence, but notwithstanding
indigence, a court may sua sponte dismiss a matter
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Court will address the indigence and merits components of 28
U.S.C. § 1915 in turn.
1915 allows a litigant to commence a civil or criminal action
in federal court without paying the administrative costs of
the lawsuit. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25
(1992). The court's review of an in forma
pauperis application is normally based solely on the
affidavit of indigence. See Gibson v. R.G. Smith
Co., 915 F.2d 260, 262-63 (6th Cir. 1990) (observing
that the “the filing of a complaint is conditioned
solely upon a person's demonstration of poverty in his
affidavit and the question of frivolousness is taken up
thereafter.”). The threshold requirement which must be
met in order to proceed in forma pauperis is that
the plaintiff show, by affidavit, the inability to pay court
fees and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). However, one
need not be absolutely destitute to enjoy the benefit of
proceeding in forma pauperis. Adkins, 335
U.S. at 342. An affidavit to proceed in forma
pauperis is sufficient if it states that the plaintiff
cannot, because of poverty, afford to pay for the costs of
litigation and still pay for the necessities of life.
Id. at 339.
present case, Plaintiff's application and economic status
has been considered in making the decision of whether to
grant leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and it
appears to the Court that Plaintiff's application sets
forth grounds for so proceeding. Accordingly, the Application
to Proceed In Forma Pauper [Doc. 1]
is GRANTED. The Clerk is
DIRECTED to file the complaint in this case
without prepayment of costs or fees. The Clerk SHALL
NOT issue process, however, at this time.
pro se pleadings are liberally construed, Boag v.
MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam), the
Court is required to dismiss an in forma pauperis
action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) if it fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted, or if it lacks an
arguable basis in law or fact. See Neitzke, 490 U.S.
at 325; see also Kiel v. Dep't of Veterans
Affairs, No. 3:09-CV-433, 2009 WL 5168055, at *1 (S.D.
Ohio Dec. 18, 2009) (finding that the complaint should be
dismissed under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) because the court
lacked subject matter jurisdiction). Because Plaintiff does
not allege sufficient facts to establish this Court's
jurisdiction, the undersigned will recommend that
Plaintiff's Complaint be dismissed without prejudice for
lack of jurisdiction.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, possessing
“only that power authorized by Constitution and
statute.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of
Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994) (citations omitted).
Generally, federal courts “lack jurisdiction of
questions of domestic relations, . . . such as child support,
even when those questions are presented in the guise of a
federal question (such as a claim invoking a federal statute
or constitutional provision).” Robinson v.
Michigan, No. 1:09-CV-564, 2009 WL 3011225, at *3 (W.D.
Mich. Sept. 16, 2009); see also Allah v. Child Support
Enf't Agency, No. 1:18 CV 872, 2018 WL 3752244, at
*3 (N.D. Ohio Aug. 7, 2018) (“To the extent he is
challenging the Domestic Relations Court Order itself ...