United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON District Judge
Timothy Louis Hermann, a resident of Wheeler, Wisconsin, has
initiated this lawsuit with a document titled "Affidavit
of Obligation Commercial Lien, " Dkt. 1, which I will
construe as a civil complaint for damages. Although the
document does not have a caption, he lists various state law
enforcement and judicial officials as "Lien Debtors,
" id. at 11, whom I will consider as the
defendants in this case. The court has already concluded that
plaintiff may proceed in forma pauperis in this case
without prepayment of any portion of the $350 filing fee.
next step is for the court to screen plaintiff's
complaint and dismiss any portion that is legally frivolous,
malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or asks for monetary damages from a defendant who by
law cannot be sued for money damages. 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
In screening any pro se litigant's complaint, I must read
the allegations of the complaint generously, Haines v.
Kemer, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam), and accept
plaintiff's allegations as true, Bonte v. U.S. Bank,
N.A., 624 F.3d 461, 463 (7th Cir. 2010).
reviewing plaintiff's complaint with these principles in
mind, I conclude that I must stay the case under the
abstention doctrine set forth in Younger v. Harris,
401 U.S. 37 (1971), and I will direct the clerk of court to
administratively close the case.
on his plaintiff's complaint and state of Wisconsin
electronic court records, I take plaintiff to be challenging
the lawfulness of criminal proceedings against him in Dunn
County, where he has been charged with simulating legal
process. See Wisconsin v. Hermann, Dunn County Case
No. 2015CF293. But these proceedings are still ongoing. Under
Younger, federal courts are required to show proper
respect for state judicial systems and abstain from issuing
orders that would interfere with ongoing state criminal
prosecutions, except in limited circumstances. 401 U.S. at
such circumstance may be where governmental officials have
pursued criminal charges against the plaintiff in bad faith.
"A plaintiff asserting bad faith prosecution as an
exception to Younger abstention must allege specific
facts [that] show that state prosecution was brought in bad
faith for the purpose of retaliating for or deterring the
exercise of constitutionally protected rights."
Collins v. Kendall County, 807 F.2d 95, 98 (7th Cir.
1986); see also Kugler v. Helfant, 421 U.S. 117, 126
n.6 (1975) ("'[B]ad faith' in this context
generally means that a prosecution has been brought without a
reasonable expectation of obtaining a valid
conviction."). Nothing in plaintiff's complaint
suggests that this exception should apply.
Younger applies, I may abstain by dismissing the
suit or by staying it. Majors v. Engelbrecht, 149
F.3d 709, 714 (7th Cir. 1998). "The pivotal question in
making this determination is whether any of the relief sought
by the plaintiff in [his] federal action is unavailable in
the state action." FreeEats.com, Inc. v.
Indiana, 502 F.3d 590, 600 (7th Cir. 2007). Because the
money damages plaintiff seeks are not available in his state
court proceedings, I must stay this case, and I will direct
the clerk of court to administratively close it.
is free to file a motion to reopen this case after the
conclusion of the pending state criminal proceedings,
including his appeals and any relevant state collateral
review proceedings. See Simpson v. Rowan, 73 F.3d
134, 139 (7th Cir. 1995). But even if plaintiff plans to do
so, he should be aware that his complaint has problems that
make it highly unlikely that he could maintain any claims for
relief. Plaintiff names large swaths of Dunn County and state
officials as defendants without regard to whether they were
personally involved in his criminal prosecution, and it is
unclear whether he has explicitly named as defendants all of
the individuals involved in his proceedings, which would
likely be reason for this court to direct him to amend his
complaint upon reopening of the case. Plaintiff also lards
his complaint with discussions of frivolous "sovereign
citizen"-type theories that do not support a claim.
See, e.g., Dkt. 1, at 2 ("Judicial non-jury
commercial judgments and orders originate from a limited
liability entity called a municipal corporation - hence must
be reinforced by a Commercial Affidavit and a Commercial
Liability Bond"). If the criminal case results in
plaintiff's conviction, and plaintiff reopens this case,
I will likely have to dismiss it because a judgment in his
favor in this court would imply the invalidity of his
conviction. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87
ORDERED that this case is STAYED, pursuant to Younger v.
Harris,401 U.S. 37 (1971), pending final resolution of
plaintiff Timothy Louis Hermann's state criminal
proceedings. The clerk ...