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Envi-El v. Hamadani

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

July 17, 2019

Shaquan Envi-El, Plaintiff,
Sam Hamadani, Jonathan Breeden & Jeffery Edwards, Jr., Defendants.



         From the pleadings, it appears that Plaintiff Shaquan Envi-El received an unfavorable ruling in a family law matter from a North Carolina District Court in Wake County. In June 2019, Envi-El requested that this court review the state court's decision. Envi-El entered a “Demand to Vacate” and requested a new jury trial on the matter. Envi-El listed her family court attorney, Jonathan Breenden; the judge who presided over her family court case, Judge Sam Hamadani; and Jeffery Edwards, Jr., as defendants.

         To support her claim, Envi-El provided an “Affidavit of Truth” and a document arguing that the North Carolina statutes that led to the decision against her are unconstitutional. Envi-El also attached seemingly-purposeless documents such as a 1957 letter from the Georgia General Assembly urging the federal government to repeal the 14th Amendment, transcripts of the 90th Congressional debates, and a proclamation of her self-identification as a member of the unrecognized Moorish Nation and North American Al Moroccan Empire. Envi-El also made general claims that she had been kidnapped, given excessive bail, had her due process rights violated, and that she was diplomatically immune from any rulings of U.S. courts.

         I. In Forma Pauperis Motion Granted.

         Envi-El asks the court to allow her to proceed with her action without paying the required filing fee and other costs associated with litigation (colloquially called proceeding in forma pauperis or IFP). For purposes of this order, the motion to proceed IFP is granted.

         The court may grant the plaintiff's request if he or she submits an affidavit describing their assets and the court finds that he or she is unable to pay the filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915. In assessing a request to proceed IFP, the court should consider whether the plaintiff can pay the costs associated with litigation and still “be able to provide [her]self and [her] dependents with the necessities of life.” Adkins v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 335 U.S. 331, 339 (1948) (internal quotations emitted).

         The court has reviewed Envi-El's IFP application. The court finds that she lacks the resources to pay the costs associated with this litigation. The court grants Envi-El's motion and allows her to proceed IFP. But although Envi-El qualifies for IFP status, the district court should dismiss her request because her claim is barred by the jurisdictional rules outlined below.

         II. Request for Appeal of Wake County Family Court Decision Should Be Dismissed Under the Rooker-Feldman Doctrine.

         As part of its evaluation of Envi-El's request, the court must also consider the viability of her claims. If the court determines that the Complaint is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, it must be dismissed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). A court may also consider whether it has subject-matter jurisdiction over a complaint as part of the frivolity review. See Lovern v. Edwards, 190 F.3d 648, 654 (4th Cir. 1999) (holding that “ [d]etermining the question of subject matter jurisdiction at the outset of the litigation is often the most efficient procedure”).

         Here, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine deprives the court of subject-matter jurisdiction to hear Envi-El's claim. Under this doctrine, “lower federal courts are precluded from exercising appellate jurisdiction over final state-court judgments.” Lance v. Dennis, 546 U.S. 459, 463 (2006) (per curiam); see Rooker v. Fid. Tr. Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923); D.C. Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983). This abstention doctrine applies to “cases brought by state-court losers complaining of injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and inviting [federal] court review and rejection of those judgments.” Thana v. Bd. of License Comm'rs for Charles Cty., Md. , 827 F.3d 314, 319 (4th Cir. 2016) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005)).

         Envi-El, displeased with the outcome in state court, filed a notice of appeal in federal district court, thus triggering Rooker-Feldman scrutiny. Although Envi-El's complaint is filed with a great deal of extraneous language, she has not concretely raised any additional issues independent from her disagreement with the state court's decision. She only seeks a direct reversal of the state court proceeding. Thus, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine deprives this court of jurisdiction over her claim and her complaint should be dismissed.[1]

         III. Conclusion

         For these reasons, the court grants Envi-El's IFP motion (D.E. 1). The undersigned recommends that the district court dismiss Envi-El's complaint due to a lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         The Clerk of Court must serve a copy of this Memorandum and Recommendation (“M&R”) on each party who has appeared in this action. Any party may file a written objection to the M&R within 14 days from the date the Clerk serves it on them. The objection must specifically note the portion of the M&R that the party objects to and the reasons for their objection. Any other party may respond to the objection within 14 days from the date the objecting party serves it on them. The district judge will review the objection and make their own determination about the matter that is the subject of the objection. If a party does not file a ...

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