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Owens v. Smalls

United States District Court, D. Delaware

June 19, 2019

USHANGO OWENS, Plaintiff,
v.
CHIEF JUSTICE SMALLS, et al., Defendants.

         Related to Justice of the Peace Court of the State of Delaware in and for Sussex County Crim.A. No. 1901010174

          Ushango Owens, New Castle, Delaware, Pro Se Plaintiff.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Stark, U.S. District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Ushango Owens ("Plaintiff) improperly filed this action as a combined notice of removal of a criminal matter under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332, and 1441(a) and a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (D.I. 2) He appears pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 5) Although the case has not yet been screened, Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss. (D.I. 7) It is unopposed. The Court proceeds to review and screen the matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b).

         II. BACKGROUND

         The initial pleading states that a criminal matter was commenced against Plaintiff on January 17, 2019. (D.I. 2 at 1) It also alleges a violation of Plaintiff s First Amendment rights. (Id. at 2) The Court takes judicial notice that on January 17, 2019, Plaintiff caused a disturbance in a courtroom at the New Casde County Courthouse (i.e., the Leonard Williams Justice Center) when he became "agitated and refused to comply" with an order by the Chief Judge who had set cash bail. (See D.I. 9 at 32) Plaintiff refused to cooperate during an attempt to handcuff him, and two Court of Common Pleas bailiffs were injured during a subsequent attempt to handcuff him. (Id. at 31-32) Plaintiff was arrested and arraigned the same day in the Justice of the Peace Court of the State of Delaware in and for Sussex County, bail was set, and he was released. (Id. at 34, 36, 38; see also State of Delaware v. Owens, Crim.A. No. 1901010174 (Del. J.P. Court))

         When Plaintiff appeared in the Justice of the Peace Court, he was informed of his right to be tried in the Court of Common Pleas, which he elected to do. (Id.) Plaintiff was also was advised of the charges against him (two counts of assault third degree and one count of disorderly conduct). (Id. at 37) The criminal case was transferred to the Court of Common Pleas for the State of Delaware in and for New Casde County on January 28, 2019, and arraignment set for March 8, 2019. (Id. at 26; see also State of Delaware v. Owens, CrimA. Nos. MN19103506, MN19103507, MN19103508 (Del. Ct. Comm. Pleas)) Based upon documents Plaintiff submitted with his combined notice of removal and Complaint, he seeks to remove State of Delaware v. Owens, Crim.A. No. 1901010174 (DeL J.P. Court) - not State of Delaware v. Owens, Crim.A. Nos. MN19103506, MN19103507, MN19103508 (Del. Ct Comm. Pleas). (See D.I. 2-1 at 1)

         In the Complaint Plaintiff alleges that the "Magistrate was never a member in good standing of the State Bar of Delaware, and consequently, he was never qualified to be appointed to the office of United States Magistrate Judge in the First instance." (D.I. 2 at 2) The pleading does not identify this magistrate. Plaintiff also alleges that "his claim to the office of New Castle County Chief Justice Judge now assumes facts not in evidence." (Id.) Presumably this allegation refers to Defendant Chief Justice Smalls ("Judge Smalls") who is die Chief Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. See https://courts.delaware.gov/commonpleas/judges.aspx (last visited June 13, 2019). Plaintiff alleges that he has been unable to obtain Judge Smalls' certificate of oath indorsed upon his license to practice law in the State of Delaware as mandated by the Delaware Business and Professions Code. (Id.) CCP Court Bailiffs are named as defendants in the caption of the initial pleading.

         Defendants are sued in their individual and official capacities, and Plaintiff seeks one million dollars in damages. (Id. at 2)

         III. REMOVAL

         A. Legal Standards

         In order for a case to be removable to the district court, the Court must have original jurisdiction by either a federal question or diversity of citizenship. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332, 1441. "Only state-court actions that originally could have been filed in federal court may be removed to federal court by the defendant." Kline v. Security Guards, Inc., 386 F.3d 246, 252 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987)). If the case could not have been filed originally in federal court, then removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1441 is improper and remand is appropriate. Id. (citations omitted).

         B. ...


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