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Skipper v. Louisiana

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

April 3, 2019


         SECTION P




         Robert Skipper, a prisoner in the custody of Louisiana's Department of Corrections proceeding pro se, filed the instant “Motion for Relief from a Final Judgment Under F.R.C.P. Rule 60” on approximately January 3, 2019.[1" name="FN1" id= "FN1">1] [doc. # 1]. Skipper seeks to reinstate a proceeding previously before the Supreme Court of Louisiana. For reasons that follow, the motion should be dismissed.[2]


         Skipper moves to “re-open” a proceeding in which a court entered final judgment on December 5, 2017. [doc. # 1, p. 1]. Skipper does not, however, explicitly identify the proceeding he seeks to reinstate. That said, the only case, federal or state, in which he was involved and in which a court entered final judgment against him on December 5, 2017, is a Supreme Court of Louisiana post-conviction relief proceeding. On December 5, 2017, the Supreme Court of Louisiana denied Skipper's application for supervisory and/or remedial writs, opining:

The application was not timely filed in the district court, and relator fails to carry his burden to show that an exception applies. La.C.Cr.P. art. 930.8; State ex rel. Glover v. State, 93-2330 (La. 9/5/95), 1189');">660 So.2d 1189. The application is also repetitive. La.C.Cr.P. art. 930.4. We attach hereto and make a part hereof the district court's written reasons denying relief.
Relator has now fully litigated several applications for post-conviction relief in state court. Similar to federal habeas relief, see 28 U.S.C. § 2244, Louisiana post-conviction procedure envisions the filing of a successive application only under the narrow circumstances provided in La.C.Cr.P. art. 930.4 and within the limitations period as set out in La.C.Cr.P. art. 930.8. Notably, the legislature in 2013 La. Acts 251 amended that article to make the procedural bars against successive filings mandatory. Relator's claims have now been fully litigated in accord with La.C.Cr.P. art. 930.6, and this denial is final. Hereafter, unless he can show that one of the narrow exceptions authorizing the filing of a successive application applies, relator has exhausted his right to state collateral review.

State ex rel. Skipper v. State, 2016-1666 (La. 12/5/17), 1 So.3d 25');">231 So.3d 25, 26.[3]

         Skipper suggests that he was convicted of murder in 1973 and sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor. [doc. # 1-2, pp. 2, 5]. He alleges that he initiated the Supreme Court of Louisiana proceeding described above to redress “equal protection and due process violations” in connection with his indictment. [doc. # 1, p. 1]. He claims that the indictment “failed to provide the necessary substance required for a prosecutor to provide jurisdiction to a grand jury” because it failed to state “with particularity each and every element of the crime charged . . . .” [doc. # 1-2, pp. 2-3]. According to Skipper, “the indictment ‘only' states[, ] ‘murdered J.T. Crockett' . . . .” Id. at 4. Skipper also claims, impliedly, that the State did not meet its burden of proving that he committed the charged crime. Id. at 5.

         Skipper “prays that after due and proper consideration of the merits herein, [he] be granted relief and that his case be re-opened to challenge the facts herein contested.” Id.

         Law and Analysis

         The Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, federal courts lack jurisdiction to entertain collateral attacks on a state court judgment, “even if it is alleged that the state court's actions were unconstitutional.” Hultberg v. Louisiana, 163 F.3d 1356');">163 F.3d 1356 (5th Cir. 1998); see Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923); D.C. Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 486 (1983). “Reduced to its essence, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine holds that inferior federal courts do not have the power to modify or reverse state court judgments except when authorized by Congress.” Burciaga v. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Tr. Co., 871 F.3d 380, 384 (5th Cir. 2017) (internal quotation marks and quoted sources omitted). “[A] federal district court, as a court of original jurisdiction, lacks appellate jurisdiction to review, modify, or nullify a final order of a state court.” Kimball v. The Fla. Bar, 632 F.2d 1283, 1284 (5th Cir. 1980). The United States Supreme Court is the only federal court permitted to review state court decisions. 28 U.S.C. § 1257(a).

         The Rooker-Feldman doctrine applies when four factors are satisfied: “‘(1) a state-court loser; (2) alleging harm caused by a state-court judgment; (3) that was rendered before the district court proceedings began; and (4) the federal suit requests review and reversal of the state-court judgment.'” Burciaga, 871 F.3d at 384 (quoting Houston v. Venneta Queen, 606 Fed. App'x. 725, 730 (5th Cir. 2015)). “The doctrine applies only to ‘final judgment[s] rendered by a state's court of last resort.” Id. (quoting Illinois Cent. R. Co. v. Guy, 1');">682 F.3d 381, 390 (5th Cir. 2012)). “In addition to the precise claims presented to the state court, Rooker-Feldman prohibits federal court review of claims that are ‘inextricably intertwined' with a state court decision.” Id. (quoting Feldman, 460 U.S. at 486-87). “[C]laims presented to a federal district court are inextricably intertwined with a state court's ...

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