United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
MICHELLE L. MCNEIL, M.G.F., and S.E.W.F., Plaintiffs,
MONROE COUNTY, DIRECTOR PAM PIPKIN, ADMINISTRATOR CATHERINE SCHMIT, CORPORATION COUNSEL ANDREW KAFTAN, and JUDGE J. DAVID RICE, Defendants.
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE
12, 2016, pro se plaintiff Michelle L. McNeil filed a
complaint on behalf of herself and her minor children against
defendants Monroe County, Pam Pipkin, Catherine Schmit,
Andrew Kaftan, and Judge J. David Rice. Plaintiff alleged
that defendants violated her constitutional rights in the
course of setting and overseeing her divorce and child
support arrangement in the Circuit Court for Monroe County,
Wisconsin. On August 19, 2016, I dismissed plaintiff's
claims as barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.
plaintiff moves for reconsideration. Dkt. 6. Plaintiff
contends that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine does not
bar her claims because she alleges civil rights violations;
she is not asking for “judicial review.”
Id. at 1. Plaintiff represents that she does not
want this court to reverse any state court decisions; rather,
she claims that defendants denied her and her minor children
“services and protection” because they were
prejudiced against her. Plaintiff suffers from depression, is
indigent, and “the town [k]new [her] ex
Rooker-Feldman doctrine primarily applies when
plaintiffs directly challenge state court judgments; I do not
have jurisdiction to review state court decisions. But the
doctrine extends further, to claims that are
“inextricably intertwined” with state court
decisions. I explained this important extension of the
doctrine in my previous order, but I will attempt to explain
it even more clearly, so that plaintiff may understand why
her claims cannot be brought in this court.
understand that plaintiff does not want me to reverse any
state court decisions. I understand that plaintiff wants me
to find that defendants-Monroe County and its
employees-violated her constitutional rights and
discriminated against her. But the violations that plaintiff
identifies are intimately related to state court decisions
and proceedings. And I cannot determine that defendants
violated plaintiff's constitutional rights without
reviewing and questioning state court decisions and weighing
whether I believe the state court acted appropriately. The
state court decisions-allegedly colored by bias,
discrimination, and due process violations-injured plaintiff.
If plaintiff did not receive due process or equal protection
under the law, those injuries are inextricably intertwined
with the state court's authorization and oversight of
plaintiff's child support arrangement. It is not possible
for this court to adjudicate plaintiff's claims without
revisiting the propriety of the state court's actions.
Even if plaintiff is not asking me to overturn those
obviously feels that defendants discriminated against her and
dehumanized her, and that is unfortunate indeed. But she must
raise these issues with the state court, not here. As I
explained in my previous order, “the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine ‘precludes lower
federal court jurisdiction over claims seeking review of
state court judgments because no matter how erroneous or
unconstitutional the state court judgment may be, the Supreme
Court of the United States is the only federal court that
could have jurisdiction to review a state court
judgment.'” Taylor v. Fed. Nat'l Mortg.
Ass'n, 374 F.3d 529, 532 (7th Cir. 2004) (citation
and internal alterations omitted). I am not saying that
defendants did not violate plaintiff's constitutional
rights; I am saying that this court is not the appropriate
place for those claims. The state court appeals process is
the way to correct errors in state court proceedings.
note about plaintiff's claims against Judge Rice.
Plaintiff contends the my previous order did not address the
fact that Judge Rice “allowed” an individual,
Juwan Wilderness, to return to his home next door to
plaintiff's after he broke into her home. I do not think
plaintiff is a bad person because she feels that she had been
treated unfairly by a judge. But I cannot give her the relief
she asks for. First, although I cannot be sure what exactly
happened in the criminal proceedings that plaintiff
references, I am certain that the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine bars these claims, too. Plaintiff is challenging the
way that a state court judge adjudicated a criminal
proceeding. Second, even if Rooker-Feldman did not
bar plaintiff's claims concerning Judge Rice and Juwan
Wilderness, Judge Rice is shielded by judicial immunity.
See Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 9 (1991) (“A
long line of this Court's precedents acknowledges that,
generally, a judge is immune from a suit for money damages.
Although unfairness and injustice to a litigant may result on
occasion, it is a general principle of the highest importance
to the proper administration of justice that a judicial
officer, in exercising the authority vested in him, shall be
free to act upon his own convictions, without apprehension of
personal consequences to himself.” (internal citations
and quotation marks omitted)).
these reasons, I must deny plaintiff's motion for
ORDERED that plaintiff Michelle L. McNeil's motion for
reconsideration, Dkt. 6, is DENIED. Per plaintiff's
request, I will direct the clerk's ...