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Makeen v. Laff

United States District Court, D. Colorado

June 9, 2014

AKEEM MAKEEN, Plaintiff,
HONORABLE KENNETH M. LAFF, in his official capacity as a Denver District Judge of the Denver District Court, and THE STATE OF COLORADO, Defendants.


LEWIS T. BABCOCK, Senior District Judge.

Plaintiff, Akeem Makeen, resides in Denver, Colorado. He initiated the instant action by filing pro se a Complaint (ECF No. 1) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1981, and 1988, and an Application to Proceed in District Court Without Prepaying Fees or Costs (ECF No. 2). Mr. Makeen will be granted leave to proceed pursuant to the federal in forma pauperis statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

As relief, he asks this Court to:

1. Vacate the Colorado Court of Appeals case number 2012CA1276;
2. Vacate the Denver District Court case number 2010CV649 denying Makeen's motion for summary judgment against Ordway's counter claims[;]
3. Reinstate the Court's order granting Makeen's motion for summary judgment against Ordway's counter claim[; and]
4. Any other relief the court deems.

ECF No. 1 at 5.

The Court must construe Mr. Makeen's filings liberally because he is not represented by an attorney. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972); Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). However, the Court should not be an advocate for a pro se litigant. See Hall, 935 F.2d at 1110. The Court may take judicial notice of its own records and files that are part of the Court's public records. See St. Louis Baptist Temple, Inc. v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., 605 F.2d 1169, 1172 (10th Cir. 1979). For the reasons stated below, the Complaint will be dismissed.

Mr. Makeen clearly wants this Court to reverse state court proceedings, which he contends violated his rights to equal protection and due process. According to the online legal research service, Westlaw, Makeen v. Hailey, No. 12CA1276, 2013 WL 5835874 (Colo. Ct. App. Oct. 31, 2013), affirmed City & County of Denver District Court Case No. 10CV649 filed on January 27, 2010, against Theresa A. Hailey and Allison J. Ordway. The Honorable Kenneth M. Laff presided over the district court case.

To the extent Mr. Makeen asks this Court to review and reverse the state court decisions in Nos. 12CA1276 and 10CV649, the Court may not do so. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine provides that federal courts, other than the United States Supreme Court, lack jurisdiction to adjudicate claims seeking review of state court judgments. See District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 486 (1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 415-16 (1923). The Rooker-Feldman doctrine prohibits "a party losing in state court... from seeking what in substance would be appellate review of the state judgment in a United States district court, based on the losing party's claim that the state judgment itself violates the loser's federal rights." Knox v. Bland, 632 F.3d 1290, 1292 (10th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see also Crutchfield v. Countrywide Home Loans, 389 F.3d 1144, 1147 (10th Cir. 2004). The Rooker-Feldman doctrine also bars claims that are "inextricably intertwined" with a prior state court judgment. See Feldman, 460 U.S. at 482 n.16. "To determine whether a federal plaintiff's claim is inextricably intertwined with a state court judgment, [the Court] must pay close attention to the relief the plaintiff seeks." Crutchfield, 389 F.3d at 1147-48. "Where a plaintiff seeks a remedy that would disrupt or undo a state court judgment, the federal claim is inextricably intertwined with the state court judgment." Id. at 1148 (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Mann v. Boatright, 477 F.3d 1140, 1147 (10th Cir. 2007) (claim is "inextricably intertwined" with the state court judgment where success in federal district court would require court "to review and reject" that judgment).

If no final judgment had been entered in the state court action, this Court still must abstain from exercising jurisdiction over claims asking the Court to intervene in ongoing state proceedings pursuant to Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 44 (1971).

To the extent Mr. Makeen asks this Court to compel the state courts to vacate their orders, he is seeking relief in the nature of mandamus. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1361, the district courts have original jurisdiction of any action in the nature of mandamus to compel an officer or employee of the United States or any agency thereof to perform a duty owed to the plaintiff. The common-law writ of mandamus, as codified in § 1361, is intended to provide a remedy for a plaintiff only if he has exhausted all other avenues of relief and only if the defendant owes him a clear nondiscretionary duty. Heckler v. Ringer, 466 U.S. 602, 616 (1984); see also Pittston Coal Group v. Sebben, 488 U.S. 105, 121 (1988) (mandamus will "issue only to compel the performance of a clear nondiscretionary duty.") "Mandamus is a drastic remedy, available only in extraordinary circumstances. Furthermore, the writ is not available when review by other means is possible." W. Shoshone Bus. Council v. Babbitt, 1 F.3d 1052, 1059 (10th Cir. 1993) (citations omitted). "To grant mandamus relief, the court must find (1) a clear right in the plaintiff to the relief sought; (2) a plainly defined and preemptory duty on the part of the defendant to do the action in question; and (3) no other adequate remedy is available." Wilder v. Prokop, 846 F.2d 613, 620 (10th Cir. 1988).

In the instant action, Mr. Makeen has not presented the Court with an extraordinary situation mandating mandamus relief. He has no clear right to the relief sought, the named Defendants do not owe him a clear nondiscretionary duty, and ...

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