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Maines v. Commonwealth

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Charlottesville Division

October 14, 2016



          Hon. Glen E. Conrad Chief United States District Judge

         Marsha Lambert Maines commenced this action by filing a pro se complaint on October 7, 2016.[*] She .names as defendant the Commonwealth of Virginia. Maines has not paid the filing fee, but will be granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis for the purpose of initial review of her complaint. For the following reasons, the court concludes that the action must be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and Rule 12(h)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.


         The plaintiffs complaint, which is styled as a "habeas corpus ad subjiciendum, " is difficult to follow. After quoting from several Second Amendment decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States and the Supreme Court of Virginia, Maines states as follows:

The injured parties seek the Release of her Commercial Instrument and PERSON from the effective 'custody' of the Administrative Agencies and district courts of the Commonwealth of Virginia and each of their Employees, their Persons, and Expressly Rebuts any Presumption or Assumptions that the Aggrieved is not a Natural Woman flesh and blood flowing with Inherent Inalienable Rights from her Creator.
"I am" and they, do not consent to third party Trustees usurping all lawful means of acquiring Remedy at Law by the Supreme law of Virginia, all Treaties, Constitutions, and any disclosed or undisclosed Private Contracts held or made by or between third parties, as the only bona fide Source and Secured Party in interest.

Compl. 13-14. Maines requests that the court issue a writ of "mandamus" requiring the following state entities to perform their "ministerial duties": the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission, the Virginia Department of Social Services, the Frederick County Court System, the Rappahannock County General District Court, and the Virginia State Police. Id. at 14-19.

         On the accompanying civil cover sheet, Maines indicates that she is invoking the court's diversity jurisdiction. Maines then states that she is asserting causes of action under the Constitution of the United States; the federal Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C. § 702; and the Constitution and laws of Virginia.

         Standards of Review

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), which governs in forma pauperis proceedings, the court has a mandatory duty to screen initial filings. Eriline Co. v. Johnson, 440 F.3d 648, 656-57 (4th Cir. 2006). The court must dismiss a case "at any time" if the court determines that the complaint "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). The standards for reviewing a complaint for dismissal under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) are the same as those which apply when a defendant moves for dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). De'Lonta v. Angelone, 330 F.3d 630, 633 (4th Cir. 2003). To survive dismissal, a complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations "to raise a right to relief above the speculative level" and "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007).

         Additionally, pursuant to Rule 12(h)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court "must dismiss" an action "[i]f the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). "[Q]uestions of subject-matter jurisdiction may be raised at any point during the proceedings and may (or, more precisely, must) be raised sua sponte by the court." Brickwood Contractors, Inc. v. Datanet Eng'g, Inc., 369 F.3d 385, 390 (4th Cir. 2004).


         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. "They possess only that power authorized by Constitution and statute." Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Generally, a case can be filed in a federal district court if there is federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 or diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         Having reviewed the complaint, the court is constrained to conclude that it must be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. To the extent Maines seeks to invoke the court's diversity jurisdiction, she has failed to demonstrate that complete diversity of citizenship exists between the parties as required by § 1332. To the contrary, the civil cover sheet indicates that the plaintiff ...

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