United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
DENNIS D. HOKE, JR, Plaintiff,
WISCONSIN DANE COUNTY CHILD SUPPORT AGENCY, et al. Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S REQUEST TO PROCEED
IN DISTRICT COURT WITHOUT PREPAYING THE FILING FEE AND
RECOMMENDATION THAT COMPLAINT BE DISMISSED
WILLIAM E. DUFFIN, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
pending before the court is plaintiff Dennis D. Hoke,
Jr’s Request to Proceed in District Court without
Prepaying the Filing Fee. (ECF No. 2.) Having reviewed
Hoke’s request, the court concludes that he lacks the
financial resources to prepay the fees and costs associated
with this action. Therefore, Hoke’s Request to Proceed
in District Court without Prepaying the Filing Fee will be
because the court is granting Hoke’s Request to Proceed
in District Court without Prepaying the Filing Fee, it must
determine whether the complaint is legally sufficient to
proceed. 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
sought to ensure that no citizen would be denied the
opportunity to commence a civil action in any court of the
United States solely due to poverty. Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992) (quoting Adkins v.
E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 335 U.S. 331, 342
(1948)). However, Congress also recognized that “a
litigant whose filing fees and court costs are assumed by the
public, unlike a paying litigant, lacks an economic incentive
to refrain from filing frivolous, malicious, or repetitive
lawsuits.” Id. (quoting Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989)). To balance these
competing concerns, before the court can allow a plaintiff to
proceed in forma pauperis it must determine that the case
neither (1) is frivolous or malicious, (2) fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted, nor (3) seeks
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Thus, although “a
pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to
less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers, ” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106
(1976)), a pro se complaint must meet these minimal standards
before the court shall grant a plaintiff leave to proceed in
is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either
in law or in fact. Denton, 504 U.S. at 31;
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 325. Although factual
allegations must be weighed in favor of the plaintiff, that
does not mean that the court is required to accept without
question the truth of the plaintiff's allegations.
Denton, 504 U.S. at 32. Thus, a court may dismiss a
claim as frivolous if it is “clearly baseless, ”
“fanciful, ” “fantastic, ”
“delusional, ” “irrational, ”
“wholly incredible, ” or “based on an
indisputably meritless legal theory.” Id. at
32-33. A court may not dismiss a claim as frivolous simply
because “the plaintiff’s allegations are
might not be frivolous or malicious but nonetheless fail to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted and,
therefore, be subject to dismissal. In determining whether a
complaint is sufficient to state a claim under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii), the court applies the same
well-established standards applicable to a motion to dismiss
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
DeWalt v. Carter, 224 F.3d 607, 611 (7th Cir. 2000).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a complaint must
contain a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Although the allegations in a complaint need not be detailed,
a complaint “demands more than an unadorned,
the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation. A pleading
that offers labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation
of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Nor does a
complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertions devoid of
further factual enhancement.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation
marks, citation, and brackets omitted). The complaint must be
sufficiently detailed “to give the defendant fair
notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S.
41, 47 (1957)) (quotation marks and ellipses omitted).
complaint contains well-pleaded non-frivolous factual
allegations, the court should assume the veracity of those
allegations and “then determine whether they plausibly
give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 679. “Determining whether a complaint
states a plausible claim for relief will … be a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to
draw on its judicial experience and common sense.”
the standards set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) in
mind, the court turns to the allegations raised in the
plaintiff’s complaint. Hoke complains of the actions of
the Dane County Child Support Agency. The precise nature of
his allegations is often unclear, but his claim appears to be
focused on the agency’s efforts to serve him with
notice proceedings. Hoke names as defendants “Wisconsin
Dane County Child Support Agency” and four individuals.
Two of the individuals are identified as family court
commissioners. (ECF No. 1 at 2.) One is identified as a
“Child Support WORKER.” (ECF No. 1 at 2.) A
fourth is not identified.
are many problems with Hoke’s complaint, but for
present purposes it is sufficient to address only a few.
“[A] litigant may not obtain review of a state court
judgment merely by recasting it as a civil rights action
under § 1983.” O'Grady v. Marathon Cty.
Child Support Agency, No. 03-C-700-C, 2004 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 1891, at *3 (W.D. Wis. Feb. 3, 2004); see also
Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923);
District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman,
460 U.S. 462, 486 (1983); Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi
Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005);
Ritter v. Ross, 992 F.2d 750, 755 (7th Cir. 1993).
Under what has come to be known as the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine, a federal district court is
barred “from entertaining not only claims actually
reviewed in state court but also other claims, including
constitutional claims, that are ‘inextricably
intertwined’ with the claims heard by the state
court.” O'Grady, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
1891, at *3 (quoting Leaf v. Supreme Court of
Wisconsin, 979 F.2d 589, 598 (7th Cir. 1992)).
clear that Hoke is asking this court to do precisely what is
prohibited under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. For
relief, Hoke asks the court to:
Vacate My Support Order. Demand to Defendents listed that
Dennis D Hoke Jr at said date and time give to them my victem
impact statement . at Dane co court house Mental anguish,
Distress, loss of time with my civil rights taken, Re payment
of all monies payed to Child Support agency() damages by each
Defendents, Grand Total of $300.000 - Three Hundred Thousand
Dollers - Appears to me that all Defendants are willing to
destoy my life for there profits and gains At any cost to me
(ECF No. 1 at 5 (ellipses in original) (reprinted as written
court lacks jurisdiction over Hoke’s claims. See
Frederiksen v. City of Lockport, 384 F.3d 437, 438 (7th
Cir. 2004). Although narrow exceptions exist for certain
extreme cases, see Loubser v. Thacker, 440 F.3d 439,
441-42 (7th Cir. 2006), or when the federal claim is distinct
from the decision of the state court, see Johnson v.
Orr, 551 F.3d 564, 568 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing
Centres, Inc. v. Town of Brookfield, Wis., 148 F.3d
699, 702 (7th Cir. 1998), Hoke’s complaint does not
contain details sufficient to ...