United States District Court, D. Nebraska
VIOLET L. GOODWIN, Plaintiff,
MICHAEL COFFEY, Judge Michael Coffey; Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Richard G. Kopf Senior United States District Judge
filed her Complaint on October 13, 2017. (Filing No.
1.) She has been given leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. (Filing No. 5.) The court now conducts an
initial review of Plaintiff's Complaint to determine
whether summary dismissal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C.
SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
has filed suit against Defendant Judge Michael Coffey,
“a state judge of Nebraska in Douglas County.”
(Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p.2.) Plaintiff is the
daughter of Billy Roy Tyler and alleges that Judge Coffey
discriminates against her for that reason. Plaintiff alleges
that Judge Coffey is engaged in a “conspiracy”
with the Clerk of the District Court of Douglas County,
Nebraska, to have all cases involving parties suspected of
being associated with Billy Roy Tyler assigned to Judge
Coffey. Once such cases are assigned, Judge Coffey
“invariably violates the rights of such person.”
(Id. at CM/ECF p.3.)
alleges Judge Coffey discriminated against Plaintiff in her
divorce case when he refused to award Plaintiff the marital
home, custody of the children, child support, and alimony.
The state court records relating to Plaintiff's divorce
case,  available to this court online, show that
the case is currently pending on Plaintiff's appeal to
the Nebraska appellate courts. The court takes judicial
notice of these state court records. See Stutzka
v. McCarville, 420 F.3d 757, 760 n.2 (8th Cir. 2005)
(court may take judicial notice of judicial opinions and
claims there is no basis in law or fact to award custody to
Plaintiff's husband based on his criminal record and
lifestyle, and Judge Coffey's decision to do so is
“bizarre” and “contrary to the norm.
(Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p.4.) Plaintiff alleges that
she is being denied due process and equal protection of the
law as a result of Judge Coffey's decisions and handling
of the proceedings. Plaintiff seeks an injunction against
Judge Coffey and a declaration that Judge Coffey is violating
Plaintiff's due process rights.
APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS ON IN INITIAL REVIEW
court is required to review in forma pauperis complaints to
determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The court must dismiss
a complaint or any portion of it that states a frivolous or
malicious claim, that fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
plaintiffs must set forth enough factual allegations to
“nudge their claims across the line from conceivable
to plausible, ” or “their complaint must be
dismissed.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“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.”).
essential function of a complaint under the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure is to give the opposing party ‘fair
notice of the nature and basis or grounds for a claim, and a
general indication of the type of litigation
involved.'” Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase Bank,
N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Hopkins v. Saunders, 199 F.3d 968, 973 (8th Cir.
1999)). However, “[a] pro se complaint must be
liberally construed, and pro se litigants are held to a
lesser pleading standard than other parties.”
Topchian, 760 F.3d at 849 (internal quotation marks
and citations omitted).
construed, Plaintiff here alleges federal constitutional
claims. To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege a violation of rights protected by the
United States Constitution or created by federal statute and
also must show that the alleged deprivation was caused by
conduct of a person acting under color of state law. West
v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Buckley v.
Barlow, 997 F.2d 494, 495 (8th Cir. 1993).
DISCUSSION OF CLAIMS
claims against Judge Coffey are barred by judicial immunity.
A judge is immune from suit, including suits brought under
section 1983 to recover for alleged deprivation of civil
rights, in all but two narrow sets of circumstances.
Schottel v. Young,687 F.3d 370, 373 (8th Cir.
2012). “First, a judge is not immune from liability for
nonjudicial actions, i.e., actions not taken in the
judge's judicial capacity. Second, a judge is not immune
for actions, though judicial in nature, taken in the complete
absence of all jurisdiction.” Id. (internal
citations omitted). An act is judicial if ...