United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
LIOI, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
se plaintiff Lawrence Edward Black filed this action as
a “Complaint Writ of Prohibition” against Canton
Municipal Court Judges Mary Falvey and Richard Kubilus. In
the pleading, plaintiff alleges the Ohio Fifth District Court
of Appeals erred by upholding the orders and judgment of the
Canton Municipal Court pertaining to his criminal conviction.
He asks this Court to order the Canton Municipal Court to
vacate its judgment, and reimburse him for costs he incurred
City of Canton Zoning Department sent plaintiff a letter on
March 1, 2017, advising him that a camper was parked
illegally on the grass of a vacant lot that he owned next to
his house on Maple Avenue NE in Canton, Ohio. (See
Doc. No. 1-2.) Zoning ordinances number 1129.16(a) and (h)
required the camper to be parked on a parking type surface,
such as a driveway or garage, and to display current license
plates. Plaintiff went to the zoning inspector, explained
that the ground was too wet from recent rain to move the
camper, and promised to move it when the ground firmed up.
Canton police checked on the property in May and discovered
the camper was still parked on the vacant lot. Plaintiff told
the zoning inspector he would hire a towing company to move
2, 2017, the zoning inspector filed a criminal complaint
against plaintiff in the Canton Municipal Court for improper
storage of a vehicle. He was served with the summons and
complaint on the same day. Plaintiff moved the camper later
that day and notified the zoning inspector that he had done
so. It appears plaintiff believed this would resolve the
matter and result in the automatic dismissal of the criminal
charges. Plaintiff did not appear for his arraignment on June
8, 2017, and Judge Falvey issued a warrant for his arrest.
Plaintiff was arrested on July 9, 2017, and was held in the
Stark County Jail in lieu of bond. He was arraigned on July
10, 2017 and released on his own recognizance. Trial was set
for July 31, 2017.
Falvey recused herself from the case on July 25, 2017, and
Judge Kubilus was appointed to preside over plaintiff's
case. Plaintiff appeared without counsel for trial, pleaded
no contest, and was found guilty of violating Ohio Rev. Code
§ 1129.16 (M4). (Doc. No. 1-4 (Judgment Entry).) He was
sentenced to pay a $50.00 fine and serve 30 days in jail,
with all but one day suspended on condition of good behavior
for two years. The court credited him with one day of jail
time served toward his sentence, and ordered him to serve 15
hours of community service in lieu of his jail sentence by
September 1, 2017. Plaintiff was also ordered to comply with
all zoning requirements with respect to the camper and to
show proof of compliance to the court. The court scheduled a
compliance hearing for September 1, 2017.
filed a petition for a writ of prohibition with the Ohio
Fifth District Court of Appeals against McKinley Township,
the City of Canton, and Stark County. The Court of Appeals
dismissed the petition.
to the docket of the Canton Municipal Court, plaintiff did
not appear for community service as required by his sentence,
and the court issued a bench warrant for his arrest on
September 6, 2017. It appears the warrant is still
outstanding. Plaintiff also did not pay the fine, and the
court referred that matter to the credit bureau of Stark
County for collection.
has now filed this action asking this Court to overturn the
decision of the Canton Municipal Court, vacate his
conviction, and relieve him of his sentence. He contends the
Municipal Court judge lacked judicial authority to continue
his prosecution, which he claims is a violation of the
constitutional provision against ex post facto laws.
Plaintiff also requests an award of monetary damages to
compensate him damages that he sustained as a result of state
Standard of Review
Court must construe plaintiff's pro se pleading
liberally. Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365
(1982) (per curiam) (citing Haines v. Kerner, 404
U.S. 519, 520 (1972)). Nevertheless, the Court is required to
dismiss an in forma pauperis action under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e) if it fails to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted, or if it lacks an arguable basis in law or
fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989);
Lawler v. Marshall, 898 F.2d 1196 (6th Cir. 1990);
Sistrunk v. City of Strongsville, 99 F.3d 194, 197
(6th Cir. 1996).
lacks an arguable basis in law or fact when it is premised
upon an indisputably meritless legal theory or when the
factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke,
490 U.S. at 327. A cause of action fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted when the complaint lacks
plausibility. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 564 (2007).
Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to grant the relief
plaintiff requests. The Canton Municipal Court is not a
“lower court” to the United States District
Court, as plaintiff suggests. United States district courts
do not have jurisdiction to overturn state court decisions,
even if the request to reverse a state court judgment is
based upon an allegation that the state court's action
was unconstitutional. Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic
Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 292 (2005). Federal
appellate review of state court judgments can only occur in
the United States Supreme Court, by appeal or by writ of
certiorari. Id. Under this principle, generally
referred to as the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, a party
losing his case in state court may not seek appellate review
of the state judgment in a United States district court.