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Ruach El v. Chang

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

January 10, 2018

Qadim Ruach El, a/k/a Vincent Anthony McCann; Ameenah Adilah El, a/k/a Kimberly Monique Smith; S. A. El, Minor Child; M. J. El, Minor Child, Plaintiffs,
Susan Chang; Susan Alford, Charleston County Department of Social Services; Ajoni Holmes, a/k/a Ajoni Homes Foster; Samaiyah White; Austin Rissana; Julie Armstrong; Felicia Green; Joycelyn Cate; Daniel E. Martin, Jr.; Wolfgang Kelly; Regina Parvin; Carole Campbell Swiecicki, Dee Norton Lowcountry Children Advocacy Center; Charleston County Sheriff Department; Jeanie Gooding; Homer NLN; James J. Kerr, Jr., A.M.C.S., Inc. Dorchester Village Apartments; Jordan Neeley; Al Cannon Detention Center; The State of South Carolina; Charleston County Family Court; James Alton Cannon, Jr.; Henry McMaster, Defendants.


          Bristow Marchant United States Magistrate Judge

This is a civil action filed by the Plaintiffs, Qadim Ruach El, a/k/a Vincent Anthony McCann; Ameenah Adilah El, a/k/a Kimberly Monique Smith; S. A. El, Minor Child; and M. J. El, Minor Child, and is before the Court for pre-service review. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); In re Prison Litigation Reform Act. 105 F.3d 1131, 1134 (6th Cir. 1997)[pleadings by non-prisoners should also be screened]. Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of the pro se complaint herein pursuant to the procedural provisions of § 1915, and in light of the following precedents: Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989); Haines v. Kerner. 404 U.S. 519 (1972); Nasim v. Warden. Maryland House of Corr.. 64 F.3d 951 (4th Cir. 1995) (en banc); and Todd v. Baskerville. 712 F.2d 70 (4th Cir. 1983).


         Section 1915 permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal court without paying the administrative costs of proceeding with the lawsuit. However, to protect against possible abuses of this privilege, the statute allows a district court to dismiss the case upon a finding that the action "is frivolous or malicious, " "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, " or "seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). A finding of frivolousness can be made where the complaint "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Denton v. Hernandez. 504 U.S. at 31. Hence, under § 1915(e)(2)(B), a claim based on a meritless legal theory may be dismissed sua sponte. See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. at 327. Further, while this Court is also required to liberally construe pro se documents, holding them to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys, Erickson v. Pardus. 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2OO7)(quoting Estelle v. Gamble. 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)), the requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the Court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal court. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990). Such is the case here.

         In their rambling original Complaint, Plaintiffs appeared to assert claims against law enforcement personnel, social service workers, judges, the court, as well as private individuals concerning a March 2017 incident. They claimed that a Charleston County Sheriffs Deputy, who was attempting to serve a warrant on another individual, illegally approached their apartment and, seeing two minor children home alone and observing drug paraphernalia (a bong) on the floor, illegally coaxed the children to open the door at which time an allegedly loaded rifle was also found. Qadim El asserted claims concerning his arrest for two counts of child endangerment, and Plaintiffs Qadim El and Ameenah Adilah El appeared to assert numerous claims on behalf of the minor children who were taken into protective custody after the incident. ECF No. 1 at 17-18. After review of Plaintiffs' initial filings, in an order dated August 29, 2017 (ECF. No. 7), Plaintiffs Quadim Ruach El and Ameenah Adilah El were directed to obtain counsel for the minor Plaintiffs, and to submit service documents (summonses and Forms USM-285) and answers to pro se party Rule 26.01 interrogatories. Additionally, these Plaintiffs were directed to complete, sign, and return a "Complaint for Violation of Civil Rights" complaint form, as the original Complaint was in violation of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.2 (Privacy Protection for Filings Made With the Court) because it contained the names of Plaintiffs' minor children, the standard complaint form had been altered to omit the required certification pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, the Complaint consisted of phrases that were so factually deficient and underdeveloped that they stated no cognizable claim, and the original Complaint failed to state the facts of their claims against each of the Defendants and what relief was requested. Brockington v. South Carolina Dep't of Soc. Servs.. No. 17-1028, 2017 WL 1531633 (4th Cir. 2Ol7)[Noting that pro se Plaintiff should be provided an opportunity to amend his complaint to cure defects prior to a dismissal]. At Plaintiffs' request, the time to do so was extended. ECF No. 13.

         Plaintiffs' time to comply with Court's orders has now expired, and Qadim Rauch El and Ameenah Adilah have failed to obtain counsel for their children. Additionally, although Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint (ECF No. 16) on October 20, 2017, which substitutes the initials of their minor children's names in the complaint caption, the Amended Complaint still impermissibly has numerous references to the full names of their children. Further, the Amended Complaint continues to be a rambling document, filled with gibberish, and fails to specifically state the facts of Plaintiffs' claims against each of the named Defendants.

         As such, any claims asserted on behalf of the minor Plaintiffs (Plaintiffs S.A. El and M.J. El) should be dismissed, because their parents have failed to obtain counsel to represent their children. In the proper form order, the parents were informed that they may not litigate the claims of their minor children in federal court, were directed to apprise this Court within thirty days as to whether they had been able to obtain counsel, and were further advised that a failure to do so might result in dismissal of claims asserted on behalf of the minor children, without prejudice. In response, Plaintiffs Qadim Ruach El and Ameenah Adilah El failed to obtain counsel for the minor children, and filed a gibberish-filled response in which they assert that they have the right to represent their children in this Court and that "NO console [sic] is needed." ECF No. 16-1. However, in general, non-attorney parents may not litigate the claims of their minor children in federal court. See Myers v. Loudoun Cntv. Public Schs.. 418 F.3d 395.401 (4th Cir. 2005) [holding that "non-attornev parents generally may not litigate the claims of their minor children in federal court"]; Cheung v. Youth Orchestra Found, of Buffalo. Inc.. 906 F.2d 59, 61 (2nd Cir. 1990) [holding that "a non-attorney parent must be represented by counsel in bringing an action on behalf of his or her child"]; Meeker v. Kercher. 782 F.2d 153, 154 (10th Cir. 1986) [holding that a father, acting pro se, could not represent his daughters]. While the court in Myers noted that parents might be permitted to litigate their children's claims in the context of a supplemental security income appeal because of the unique policy considerations involved in such cases, see Myers, 418 F.3d at 401, no such unique considerations are involved in this case.

         An individual's right to represent himself or herself pro se in federal court is protected by statute; see 28 U.S.C. § 1654; but the right to litigate one's claims without an attorney "does not create a coordinate right to litigate for others." Myers, 418 F.3d at 400. Plaintiffs have presented nothing to show that they are attorneys admitted to practice in this Court, and they have otherwise failed to obtain counsel to represent their minor children despite being specifically advised of the requirement that they do so. Therefore, any claims that have been presented on behalf of the minor children should be dismissed without prejudice. See, e.g., Gallo v. United States, 331 F.Supp.2d 446, 447 (E.D.Va. 2004); Brown v. Ortho Diagnostic Systems. Inc.. 868 F.Supp. 168, 170-71 (E.D. Va. 1994).

         With respect to the two (2) remaining adult Plaintiffs, Quadim Ruach El and Ameenah Adilah El assert that they bring this case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against state or local officials. In response to the question of what federal constitutional or statutory rights they claim are being violated by state or local officials, Plaintiffs state that the Defendants are being "charged" with the crime of "vigilance watchfulness;" ECF No. 16 at 10; and later state that the Defendants are being charged with the crimes of vigilance; disorderly conduct; coercion; violation of unalienable rights of birth (UN Declaration of rights of a child 1924), Violation of UN Rights of indigenous peoples; perjury; violation of constitutional rights; false arrest/being accused of a crime without and injured party; cruel and unusual punishment; human trafficking; kidnap; genocide; and treason. ECF No. 16 at 17. In the "Relief section of the Complaint form, Plaintiffs write:

We legally demand that our children be returned to us effective immediately and all harassment, false legal proceedings, and all other acts of genocide cease and desist.

ECF No. 16 at 18. They also demand that "all proceeding against our Tribe cease", "all Charges [be] Dropped", and that "our seed be returned to our tribe". ECF No. 16 at 13-14.

         Plaintiffs' claims are subject to summary dismissal because the Amended Complaint is characterized by what some courts have described as "buzzwords" or "legalistic gibberish." See, e.g., Rochester v. McKie. No. 8:11-797, 2011 WL 2671228, at *1 (D.S.C. July 8, 2011) (citing Yocum v. Summers. No. 91-3648, 1991 WL 171389, at *1 (N.D.I11. Aug. 30, 1991)). Although Plaintiffs mention constitutional violations, their allegations are so generally incomprehensible and filled with what could only be considered by a reasonable person as unconnected, conclusory, and unsupported comments, or "gibberish, " that it is unclear what is to be made of them. See Hagans v. Lavine, 415 U.S. 528, 536-537 (1974) [Noting that federal courts lack the power to entertain claims that are "so attenuated and unsubstantial as to be absolutely devoid of merit"]; see also Livingston v. Adirondack Beverage Co.. 141 F.3d 434 (2nd Cir. 1998); Adams v. Rice. 40 F.3d 72(4th Cir. 1994) [Affirming dismissal of plaintiff s suit as frivolous where allegations were conclusory and nonsensical on their face]. Thus, Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint is in violation of the directive in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) that pleadings shall contain "a short and plain statement" of the basis for the court's jurisdiction and of the basis for a plaintiffs claims against each defendant. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2OO7)[requiring, in order to avoid dismissal, '"a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'"].

         As best can be determined from a careful review of the pro se Amended Complaint, and by liberally construing that document, specific claims asserted against specific Defendants are that Defendant Rissana allegedly stated that Plaintiffs were in violation of S.C. Code Ann. § 63-7-20 (the "Definitions" section under the South Carolina Children's Code); Defendants the State of South Carolina, the Charleston County Clerk Court, and the Charleston County Sheriffs Department are allegedly unconstitutional private corporations such that Plaintiffs were not provided with due process (ECF No. 16 at 14-15); Defendants Samaiyah White and Felicia Green allegedly violated Plaintiffs' rights by not using correct spellings of their names and their correct national status; all Defendants are being charged with the "crimes" listed above (ECF No. 17); and that the Defendants "conspired" against the Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs also appear to allege that the Treaty of Peace and Friendship (which presumably refers to the Moroccan-American Treaty of Peace and Friendship) is a basis for jurisdiction in this case, but courts have soundly rejected such claims. See Headen-El v. Keller. No. l;llCV59O, 2011 WL 3568282, at *2 (M.D. N.C. Aug. 15, 2011) ["The fact that a group claiming to be 'Moorish Americans' has written documents that might support" the idea that the court lacks jurisdiction to prosecute and imprison them "does not establish a valid claim."]. Furthermore, the "Moroccan-American Treaty of Peace and Friendship, ratified by President Andrew Jackson on January 28, 1837...[, a]s its title indicates, is [a treaty] of'Peace and Friendship' between the sovereign states of Morocco and the United States....It does not contain language suggesting that the United States, or any state or territory therein, does not have jurisdiction over a person violating the law within its jurisdiction." Pitt-Bey v. District of Columbia, 942 A.2d 1132, 1136 (D.C. 2008); see, e.g.. Wilkerson v. Gozdan. No. 2:14cv731-MHT, 2014 WL 5112085, at *3 (M.D. Ala. Oct. 10, 2014) [explaining that "court[s] lack [] subject matter jurisdiction to enforce '[t]he Zodiac Constitution' or the 'Treaties of Peace and Friendship' "]: Jones-El v. South Carolina, No. 5.T3-cv-01851-JMC, 2014 WL 958302, at *8 (D.S.C. Mar. 11, 2014) [rejecting habeas claims under the Zodiac Constitution and Treaty of Peace and Friendship as "completely frivolous, whether raised under § 2254, § 2241, or by way of civil complaint"]; El Ameen Bey v. Stumpf. 825 F.Supp.2d 537, 558 (D.N.J. 2OO7)[holding Treaty of Peace and Friendship has no impact on jurisdiction of courts].

         Additionally, Plaintiffs appear to assert various United Nation or international declarations such as the "UN Declaration of rights of a child (1924)" and the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" as bases for jurisdiction. However, it is unclear how the Defendant(s) have violated such provisions. Further, the declarations of the United Nations are generally statements of policy rather than binding treaties. See, Siderman de Blake v. Republic of Argentina, 965 F.2d 699, 719 (9th Cir. 1992); see also Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain. 542 U.S. 692, 734 (2004) [noting that "the [Universal Declaration of Human Rights] does not of its own force impose obligations ...

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