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Saunders v. McAuliffe

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

March 17, 2016

MICHAEL J.G. SAUNDERS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
TERRY MCAULIFFE, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

M. HANNAH LAUCK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Terry McAuliffe and Mark R. Herring's Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).[1] (ECF No. 8.) Plaintiffs Michael J.G. Saunders and William Scott MacDonald, proceeding pro se, responded, and Defendants replied. (ECF Nos. 10, 11.) The matter is ripe for disposition. The Court dispenses with oral argument because the materials before the Court adequately present the facts and legal contentions, and argument would not aid the decisional process.[2] For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 8) and dismiss the action as barred by the doctrine of res judicata.

I. Standard of Review

A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

"A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint; importantly, it does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citing 5 A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1356 (1990)). In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a plaintiffs well-pleaded allegations are taken as true and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993); see also Martin, 980 F.2d at 952. This principle applies only to factual allegations, however, and "a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "require[ ] only 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (omission in original) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Plaintiffs cannot satisfy this standard with complaints containing only "labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Id. (citations omitted). Instead, a plaintiff must assert facts that rise above speculation and conceivability to those that "show" a claim that is "plausible on its face." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550U.S. at 556). Therefore, in order for a claim or complaint to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim, the plaintiff must "allege facts sufficient to state all the elements of [his or] her claim." Bass v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 324 F.3d 761, 765 (4th Cir. 2003) (citing Dickson v. Microsoft Corp., 309 F.3d 193, 213 (4th Cir. 2002); Iodice v. United States, 289 F.3d 270, 281 (4th Cir. 2002)).

B. Obligation to Construe Pro se Pleadings Liberally

District courts have a duty to construe pro se pleadings liberally. Bracey v. Buchanan, 55 F.Supp.2d 416, 421 (E.D. Va. 1999). A pro se plaintiff must nevertheless allege facts sufficient to state a cause of action. Id. (citation omitted). The Court cannot act as a, pro se litigant's "advocate and develop, sua sponte, statutory and constitutional claims that the [litigant] failed to clearly raise on the face of [the] complaint." Newkirk v. Circuit Court of the City of Hampton, No. 3:14cv372, 2014 WL 4072212, at *1 (E.D. Va. Aug. 14, 2014).

II. Factual and Procedural Background[3]

A. Factual Background

1. MacDonald

In March 2005, the Circuit Court for the County of Prince George, Virginia, found that MacDonald had engaged in private sexual intercourse and oral sodomy with a two females, aged 16 and 17, when he was 45 to 47 years old and convicted MacDonald of four counts of sodomy under Section 18.2-361.[4] McDonald v. Commonwealth, 645 S.E.2d 918, 919 (Va. 2007).[5] On appeal, MacDonald argued that the holding in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)[6] rendered Section 18.2-361 (A) unconstitutional as applied to him. Id. at 920. The Supreme Court of Virginia concluded that Supreme Court of the United States limited the scope of its holding in Lawrence when it noted that "[t]he present case does not involve minors." Id. at 924 (citing Lawrence, 539 U.S. at 578). In contrast to the facts in Lawrence, MacDonald had been convicted for engaging in sodomy with minors. Id. Thus, the Supreme Court of Virginia held that Virginia's anti-sodomy provision was constitutional as applied to MacDonald. Id.

In August 2005, the Circuit Court of the City of Colonial Heights, Virginia convicted MacDonald of criminal solicitation, in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-29, and contribution to the delinquency of a minor, in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-371. See MacDonald/Moose, 710 F.3d at 155. The predicate felony for the solicitation offense was Section 18.2-361(A). Id. at 156. In 2013, MacDonald filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus through 28 U.S.C. § 2254[7] in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, collaterally attacking his convictions under Sections 18.2-29 and 18.2-371. Id. The district court denied the petition. Id. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed, holding that Section 18.2-361(A) was facially unconstitutional in light of Lawrence[8]Id. at 166- 67. On remand, the district court granted the petition and ordered the ...


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