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Stephen L. D'angelo v. New Hampshire Supreme Court

December 20, 2012

STEPHEN L. D'ANGELO, PLAINTIFF
v.
NEW HAMPSHIRE SUPREME COURT, AND BRIAN GERMAIN, ESQ., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Steven J. McAuliffe United States District Judge

Opinion No. 2012 DNH 204

ORDER

The plaintiff, Stephen D'Angelo, appears pro se (although he is an attorney). He brings this action seeking compensatory, declaratory, and injunctive relief, asserting that the state courts violated his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights during the course of child support proceedings to which he was a party. The Magistrate Judge has reviewed the complaint in due course and has filed a formal Report and Recommendation, in which she recommends dismissal of all D'Angelo's claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, after applying the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Defendants also move to dismiss all of plaintiff's claims. Plaintiff objects.

The Report and Recommendation is adopted in part, defendants' motions to dismiss are granted, and all of plaintiff's claims are dismissed.

Background

D'Angelo has been involved in an ongoing dispute over his child support obligations since approximately 2006. The New Hampshire Circuit Court, 10th Circuit, Family Division (the "Derry Family Court") conducted a number of hearings and issued several orders in an effort to resolve D'Angelo's financial obligations to his son. In those various orders, the court observed that, D'Angelo "has a well-documented history of thwarting the discovery process and of selectively excluding relevant financial information to the detriment of the Petitioner," Complaint, Exhibit H (document no. 1-8), Order dated May 15, 2012 ("DFC Order") at 1 (quoting a prior order). It also noted that it had "already found Mr. D'Angelo in Contempt of Court on multiple occasions." Id. at 3. The court went on to observe that D'Angelo (a practicing attorney):

would represent that his gross income ranges from $29,500 to a high of $93,387.00 while being able to travel extensively, own two Porsche automobiles, purchase a 40ft yacht for $190,000.00, own several automobiles to include a Lexus, and maintain a lifestyle that would indicate by his travel, entertainment, and expenditures that he has disposable monies in excess of those stated on his Financial Affidavit.

Id. at 2. Given those ongoing concerns, in September of 2011, the court appointed Attorney Brian Germaine as a Commissioner, to investigate and report to the court with regard to D'Angelo's gross income from 2006 forward.

In May of 2012, the court conducted yet another hearing, to address several pending motions. At that hearing, Commissioner Germaine presented his findings. The court determined them to be well-supported and credible, and adopted them as to D'Angelo's gross income from 2006 forward. DFC Order at 10. It also found, "by clear and convincing evidence that [D'Angelo] had the ability to make [past support payments] to the Petitioner and chose to pay his own bills despite being cautioned by this Court." DFC Order at 4. It then held D'Angelo in contempt for having failed to pay past-due child support obligations, entered judgment in favor of D'Angelo's former wife in the amount of more than $110,000.00, and modified D'Angelo's monthly child support obligations going forward. DFC Order at 10-12. D'Angelo filed a Notice of Discretionary Appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, but the court declined to hear his appeal. This litigation followed.

In his complaint, D'Angelo advances nine separate claims against the New Hampshire Supreme Court ("NHSC") and Attorney Germaine. They can be summarized as follows:

1. The Derry Family Court (over which the NHSC has supervisory authority) violated plaintiff's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights when it refused to hold an evidentiary hearing prior to entering an order modifying his child support obligations;

2. The NHSC violated plaintiff's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights when it declined to grant his notice of appeal; and

3. The court-appointed commissioner, Brian Germaine, violated plaintiff's federally protected constitutional rights, and committed a variety of state common law torts, when he made allegedly false statements about plaintiff to the family court.

D'Angelo seeks the following relief: (a) an injunction to prevent "the Derry District Court from implementing, enforcing or otherwise taking any action" on its order of May 15, 2012, Complaint at para. 112; (b) monetary damages against the NHSC to "fairly and adequately compensate Plaintiff" for the court's "reckless and wanton" refusal to review the decisions of its family courts, Complaint at paras. 119 and 122; and (c) monetary damages against Attorney Germaine for ...


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