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Sallis v. Jones

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

March 8, 2018

Derrick Sallis, Plaintiff,
Marcia Jones; S.C. Dept. of Social Services; OBO State of Iowa, Defendants.


          Jacquelyn D. Austin United States Magistrate Judge

         Derrick Sallis (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se, brings this civil action purportedly seeking damages for alleged violations of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff is a non-prisoner, and he files this action in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The Complaint is subject to summary dismissal.


         Plaintiff appears to reside in Boiling Springs, South Carolina, and he brings suit against three defendants: Marcia Jones, who resides in Apopila, Florida; the South Carolina Department of Social Services; and the “OBO State of Iowa, ” which appears to be the Child Support Recovery Unit for the Iowa County of Waterloo. [Doc. 1 at 1-3.] The allegations in the Complaint are difficult to decipher. Plaintiff alleges this Court has federal question jurisdiction based on Rule 5.1 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. [Id. at 3.] For his statement of the claim, Plaintiff alleges only the following:

Date of Hearing November 3 2016 SCDSS Lawyer Mark X Herro Case 2016 DR 421924

[Id. at 5.] For his relief, Plaintiff seeks the “return all monies taken from [Plaintiff] while living in the state of South Carolina[, ] return Drivers License and refund cost of Restrictive License.” [Id. at 5.] Attached to the Complaint are 204 pages of additional documentation. [See Docs. 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, 1-4, 1-5.] Most of these documents are copies of various state and federal statutes and cases, as well as documents from Plaintiff's state court proceedings.

         Plaintiff's first attachment to his Complaint is entitled “Notice of Constitutional Challenge to South Carolina Code” (hereinafter “Notice”). [Doc. 1-1.] This Notice purports to challenge the constitutionality of Title 63 of the South Carolina State Code, which is the “South Carolina Children's Code” (hereinafter “Title 63"), pursuant to FRCP Rule 5.1(a). [Id. at 1.] The Notice is nonsensical and, like the Complaint, difficult to decipher. However, the crux of Plaintiff's contention appears to be that Title 63 is unconstitutional because it was never ratified by Congress and never signed by the President of the United States. [Id.] Specifically, Plaintiff asserts that the State of South Carolina “gets [its] authority through contract with the Federal government under Title 42 of the United States Code and . . . [Title 63] was not ratified by Congress, So how did the State promulgate South Carolina Code 63 into law?” [Id.]

         Plaintiff's fourth attachment provides the following additional information, seemingly in support of his Complaint. Plaintiff's civil rights have been violated by the Spartanburg County Family Court. [Doc. 1-4 at 1.] On September 15, 2017, Plaintiff filed “evidence” with the Spartanburg County Family Court pursuant to Rule 402 of the South Carolina Rules of Evidence. [Id.] On September 18, 2017, Plaintiff appeared in the Family Court for a rule to show cause hearing; however, his “evidence” was not on the record. [Id.] Accordingly, Plaintiff was forced to submit to a court order taking money out of his payroll check. [Id.] A few days later, on September 21, 2017, Plaintiff received a package at his home, which contained the “evidence” for his hearing that the clerk's office had failed to enter in his case. [Id.] Plaintiff then returned to the Spartanburg County Family Court Clerk's Office on September 22, 2017, to ask why his evidence had not been filed in his case prior to the rule to show cause hearing. [Id.] Plaintiff contends the Clerk's Office is censoring everything that he attempts to enter into his case and is blocking him from defending himself. [Id.] According to Plaintiff, these actions by the Clerk's Office violated his civil rights. [Id.] As a result, Plaintiff contends he is entitled to a dismissal of the child support order, reinstatement of his driver's licence, the return of all money taken from him since the year 2000, including child support and other fees, among other things. [Id.]

         Liberally construing Plaintiff's Complaint and the attached exhibits, it appears that Plaintiff seeks to challenge a child support order of the Spartanburg County Family Court by asserting a constitutional challenge to the South Carolina child support statute and a civil rights claim for violation of due process.


         Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)(B), and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e) D.S.C., the undersigned is authorized to review the Complaint for relief and submit findings and recommendations to the District Court. Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the in forma pauperis statute. This statute authorizes the District Court to dismiss a case if it is satisfied that the action “fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, ” is “frivolous or malicious, ” or “seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         As a pro se litigant, Plaintiff's pleadings are accorded liberal construction and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam). However, even under this less stringent standard, the pro se Complaint is subject to summary dismissal. The mandated liberal construction afforded to pro se pleadings means that if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which Plaintiff could prevail, it should do so, but a district court may not rewrite a petition to include claims that were never presented, Barnett v. Hargett, 174 F.3d 1128, 1133 (10th Cir. 1999), or construct Plaintiff's legal arguments for him, Small v. Endicott, 998 F.2d 411, 417-18 (7th Cir. 1993), or “conjure up questions never squarely presented” to the court, Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985). 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 cognizable in a federal district court. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387 (4th Cir. 1990).


         As explained above, the precise nature of Plaintiff's legal claims are not entirely clear from the allegations in the Complaint and supporting documents. At its core, the Complaint appears to challenge a South Carolina family court order requiring Plaintiff to pay child support. Liberally construed, the Complaint appears to assert both a claim challenging the constitutionality of Title 63 of the South Carolina Code and a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for an ...

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