United States District Court, Central District of Illinois, Springfield Division
December 12, 1994
JIMMIE DALE POOLE, PLAINTIFF,
HONORABLE HAROLD A. BAKER, J. WILLIAM ROBERTS, LAWRENCE BEAUMONT, F. JAMES ROYTEK, AND SUSAN SILVER, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, District Judge:
Should a frivolous claim over which the Court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction be transferred pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1631?
Jimmie Poole was convicted in 1991 of possessing a firearm
after previously having been convicted of a felony. All of the
Defendants here were connected with Poole's conviction in an
official capacity — United States District Court Judge Harold A.
Baker, United States Attorney J. William Roberts, Assistant
United States Attorney Lawrence Beaumont, Defense Counsel F.
James Roytek and United States Probation Officer Susan Silver.
A few years after his conviction, Poole filed a "Claim of
Commercial Lien" against the Defendants in the Sangamon County,
Illinois, Office of the County Recorder. The basis of the lien
was a claim that the Defendants breached a "contract" when they
participated in the case which led to Poole's conviction.
Thereafter, Poole filed a Complaint, Case No. 94-L-407, in
Sangamon County, Illinois, alleging that the Defendants did not
respond to his lien. In the Complaint, Poole demands that he be
released from prison and that the Defendants pay him
$5,000,000.00. Defendants answered the Complaint by removing it
to this Court and filing a Motion for Summary Judgment.
In their Motion,*fn1 Defendants contend that Summary Judgment
should be granted because: there is a lack of personal and
subject matter jurisdiction; there was insufficient process and
service; the Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted; the claim is frivolous; the claim is time barred;
Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies; and the
Defendants have absolute or qualified Immunity.
The summary judgment motions can only be considered if the
Court has subject matter jurisdiction. American Fire & Casualty
Co. v. Finn, 341 U.S. 6, 16-19, 71 S.Ct. 534, 541-42, 95 L.Ed.
702 (1951). Moreover, dismissal is mandated if subject matter
jurisdiction is lacking. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).
This is a claim for money damages and a release from federal
incarceration against federal officials. Thus, it is a claim
against the United States and requires a waiver of sovereign
immunity. United States v. Sherwood, 312 U.S. 584, 586, 61
S.Ct. 767, 769, 85 L.Ed. 1058 (1941). The claim, however, was
filed in state court without a waiver of sovereign immunity
giving the state court jurisdiction. Therefore, this
Court does not have jurisdiction because it cannot acquire
derivative jurisdiction if there was no original jurisdiction.
Lambert Run Coal Co. v. Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co.,
258 U.S. 377, 382, 42 S.Ct. 349, 351, 66 L.Ed. 671 (1922).
Moreover, even if the Complaint had been filed originally in
this Court, jurisdiction would still be lacking. This is because
Plaintiff's claim exceeds this Court's $10,000 limit for
jurisdiction for a contract claim against the United States.
28 U.S.C. § 1346(a)(2). Thus, the United States Court of Federal
Claims would be the proper court to hear the claim.
This Court, however, only has to transfer "if it is in the
interest of justice." 28 U.S.C. § 1631. Transfer is not in the
interest of justice if the Complaint is frivolous and additional
adjudication a waste of judicial resources. Galloway Farms, Inc.
v. United States, 834 F.2d 998, 1000 (Fed.Cir. 1987) ("The
phrase `if in the interest of justice' relates to claims which
are nonfrivolous and as such should be decided on the merits.");
Zinger Construction Co. v. United States, 753 F.2d 1053, 1055
(Fed.Cir. 1985). See also Howitt v. Department of Commerce,
897 F.2d 583, 584 (1st Cir.), cert denied, 498 U.S. 895, 111 S.Ct.
244, 112 L.Ed.2d 203 (1990).
According to the Complaint, Defendants breached a contract they
all entered into when they swore an oath to support and defend
the Constitution when they "conspired with others known and
unknown, to deprive [Poole of his] Constitutionally secured
rights, through the use of illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional
governmental statutes and procedures promulgated between the
years of 1933 to 1976." Plaintiff also maintains that later
amendments to these statutes are unconstitutional.
Plaintiff contends that there are two governments — peace-time
and war-time and that between the years 1933 and 1976 Congress
improperly utilized war-time procedure. Plaintiff takes specific
exception with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and
Rule 56 in particular. Unfortunately for Plaintiff, the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure have been upheld as constitutional. Sibbach v.
Wilson & Co., 312 U.S. 655, 61 S.Ct. 422, 85 L.Ed. 479 (1941).
More generally, the laws promulgated between 1933 and 1976 —
including the Rules Enabling Act of 1934 — are not all
unconstitutional. Thus, there is no basis to Plaintiff's breach
of contract theory. Moreover, even if Plaintiff had a valid claim
and had initiated proper summons and service, the Defendants
still would be entitled to absolute or qualified immunity because
they were acting in their official capacities. See Forrester v.
White, 484 U.S. 219, 108 S.Ct. 538, 98 L.Ed.2d 555 (1988)
(Judges); Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 96 S.Ct. 984, 47
L.Ed.2d 128 (1976) (Prosecutors); Sullivan v. United States,
21 F.3d 198 (7th Cir. 1994) (Defense attorneys); Walrath v. United
States, 35 F.3d 277 (7th Cir. 1994) (Probation Officers). Thus,
transferring the case would be a waste of resources and not in
the interest of justice.
Ergo, this case is dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.