United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
Brian Edward Mahoney, pro se.
ANDREA K. JOHNSTONE, Magistrate Judge.
Before the court is the complaint (doc. no. 1), filed by plaintiff Brian Edward Mahoney, naming the State of New Hampshire, the justices of the New Hampshire Supreme Court ("NHSC"), and the NHSC Court Clerk as defendants. Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, seeks damages and injunctive relief on claims asserting that NHSC decisions violated his federal constitutional rights and involved negligent and fraudulent conduct. The complaint is before this magistrate judge for preliminary review under LR 4.3(d)(2) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
Preliminary Review Standard
The court may dismiss claims asserted in a complaint filed by a plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis at any time, if the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, a defendant is immune from the relief sought, the complaint fails to state a claim, or the action is frivolous or malicious. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). 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.'" See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted). The court treats as true all well-pleaded factual allegations, and construes reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor. See Ocasio-Hernández v. Fortuño-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011).
Mahoney filed an action against the New Hampshire Department of Safety in the New Hampshire Superior Court, Rockingham County, to challenge his inclusion on the state sex offender registry. See Mahoney v. N.H. Dep't of Safety, No. 218-2010-EQ-00121 (N.H. Super. Ct., Rockingham Cnty.). Mahoney alleges that he sought to appeal adverse orders in that case, and that the NHSC improperly dismissed Mahoney's appeal. Attached to Mahoney's complaint are copies of NHSC orders at issue in this action. See, e.g., Doc. No. 1, at 11-13.
Mahoney asserts that the dismissal of his appeal breached duties that defendants owed to plaintiff under state and federal law, and violated his right to access the courts, his Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection, and his rights under the Privileges and Immunities Clause, U.S. Const. Art. IV, § 2. Mahoney further asserts that defendants dismissed his appeal to retaliate against him for exercising his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to petition the government for redress of grievances and to access the courts. Finally, Mahoney asserts that the dismissal rendered defendants liable to him under state law, for negligently failing to review his filings, and for fraud. Mahoney seeks damages and equitable relief, including an order remanding his state court case back to the Rockingham County Superior Court.
I. Mahoney's Status
Rule 17(c)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides, as follows:
A minor or an incompetent person who does not have a duly appointed representative may sue by a next friend or by a guardian ad litem. The court must appoint a guardian ad litem - or issue another appropriate order - to protect a minor or incompetent person who is unrepresented in an action.
Mahoney has acknowledged that he was adjudicated incompetent to stand trial in the District of New Hampshire in a criminal case in 2013. The First Circuit affirmed that ruling. See United States v. Mahoney, 717 F.3d 257, 266 (1st Cir. 2013). Additionally, on May 21, 2015, the judge presiding in a civil commitment proceeding in the District of Massachusetts recommended that counsel be appointed for Mahoney in his appeal in that matter because that judge had reservations about Mahoney's ability to represent himself in that proceeding. See United States v. Mahoney, No. CIV. 13-11530-PBS, 2015 WL 2448308, at *4 (D. Mass. May 21, 2015). The findings in those prior proceedings provide grounds for this court to consider whether to appoint a guardian ad litem or issue another order to protect Mahoney in this case, at this time.
In Mahoney v. Hearst Corp., No. 13-cv-12994-LTS, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19253, *4 (D. Mass. Feb. 17, 2015), the District of Massachusetts considered a similar question in a civil case involving the same plaintiff, in which the court had granted defendants' motion to dismiss Mahoney's pro se complaint. In ruling on Mahoney's motion to reconsider that court's prior order ...