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Matthews v. Mikolaities

United States District Court, First Circuit

October 24, 2013

Alexander Otis Matthews
v.
Kerri Mikolaities et al.[1]

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

LANDYA McCAFFERTY, Magistrate Judge.

Pro se plaintiff, Alexander Otis Matthews, has filed a complaint and three addenda thereto (doc. nos. 1, 7, 8, and 13-2), two motions for a preliminary injunction (doc. nos. 3 and 13), and a motion (doc. no. 9) requesting a hearing by telephone or video conference. The complaint, which is construed for all purposes in this case to include the addenda and exhibits thereto, is before the court for preliminary review to determine, among other things, whether Matthews has stated any claim upon which relief might be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); LR 4.3(d)(1)(B).

Background

Matthews, a Virginia resident incarcerated in New Hampshire, alleges that employees in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Hampshire ("Bankruptcy Court defendants") violated his federal constitutional rights when they failed to docket a Chapter 11 petition Matthews signed on behalf of Farmville Group, LLC ("Farmville"), a limited liability company he owns, and also failed to respond promptly to his inquiries about the Farmville petition. Matthews further alleges that court reporters and clerk's office staff in federal courts in Maryland and the District of Columbia violated his federal constitutional rights when they failed to provide him with transcripts of judicial proceedings that occurred in federal prosecutions of Matthews in December 2000 and December 2010. Finally, Matthews alleges that Attorney Susan Herman, Deputy Bar Counsel for the District of Columbia Bar, violated his federal constitutional rights by failing to require former prosecutor Michael Pauze, the target of an attorney disciplinary complaint Matthews had filed, to respond to all of Matthews's claims of prosecutorial misconduct.

In his first motion for a preliminary injunction (doc. no. 3), Matthews seeks an injunction only on the claims against the Bankruptcy Court defendants. In his (second) motion for a preliminary injunction (doc. no. 13), Matthews seeks an order compelling Attorney Herman to order Attorney Pauze to answer all of Matthews's attorney disciplinary claims. Matthews further requests a hearing by video or telephone conference on his (first) preliminary injunction motion. See Mot. for Hr'g (doc. no. 9).

The district judge referred Matthews's preliminary injunction motions to the magistrate judge for proposed findings and a recommendation as to their disposition. Those findings and recommendations are set forth below, following the preliminary review of Matthews's complaint.

Discussion

I. Preliminary Review of Complaint

A. Standard

The magistrate judge in this court conducts a preliminary review of complaints filed pro se and in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); LR 4.3(d)(1)(B). The magistrate judge may direct service of the complaint, or, as appropriate, recommend to the district judge that one or more claims be dismissed if the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, a defendant is immune from the relief sought, the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the allegation of poverty is untrue, or the action is frivolous or malicious. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); LR 4.3(d)(1)(B).

In determining whether a pro se complaint states a claim, the court must construe the complaint liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus , 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam). To survive preliminary review, the complaint must contain "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted).

B. Bankruptcy Court Defendants

1. Background and Claims

Matthews asserts that he is the sole owner and manager of Farmville, a limited liability company. Farmville owned his wife and children's Virginia home. That house was sold at a sheriff's sale on July 2, 2013. Matthews attempted to stop the sale by filing a chapter 11 petition for Farmville in the bankruptcy court in New Hampshire in June 2013. That effort failed because the Bankruptcy Court Clerk's office did not docket the petition as a new case. Matthew mailed three inquiries to the Bankruptcy Court - on June 23, July 11, and July 13, 2013, about the Farmville petition. The Clerk's office did not immediately respond to the inquiries. On July 18 and 29, 2013, the court sent letters to Matthews stating that the petition was not filed because it was not signed by a lawyer and because no filing fee accompanied the petition. The July 29, 2013, letter further explained that the four-week week delay in the Clerk's office's response to Matthews's June 23 ...


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