United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Halonen, plaintiff pro se.
T. Kryzer, and Eric V. Brown, Minnesota Attorney General
counsel for defendants.
S. Doty, Judge United States District Court
matter is before the court upon the motions to dismiss by
defendants Robert Hiivala, Wright County Auditor; Joe
Haggerty, Wright County Sheriff; and Mark Dayton, Governor of
the State of Minnesota. Based on a review of the file,
record, and proceedings herein, and for the following
reasons, the motions are granted.
The Disciples Road claims that defendants have trespassed on
its land in Wright County, Minnesota. The land in question
appears to have been forfeited following the non-payment of
taxes. Compl. ¶¶ 10-11. On September 1, 2017,
plaintiff filed this suit under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331
and 2201 seeking a declaration that it owns the property at
issue free of any encumbrance. Defendants promptly moved to
dismiss arguing, among other things, that the court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction over the case because plaintiff
has failed to allege any violations of the Constitution or
federal law. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (“The
district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil
actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of
the United States.”). The court agrees that dismissal
is proper under the circumstances presented.
initial matter, plaintiff is not represented by counsel.
Plaintiff is a religious ministry purportedly represented by
non-lawyer Terry Halonen. But Halonen is without authority to
speak on behalf of another person or entity in this
court. See Jones ex rel. Jones v. Corr. Med.
Servs., Inc., 401 F.3d 950, 952 (8th Cir. 2005)
(“[A] ... non-attorney may not engage in the practice
of law on behalf of others.”); Knoefler v. United
Bank of Bismarck, 20 F.3d 347, 348 (8th Cir. 1994)
(“A nonlawyer ... has no right to represent another
entity ... in a court of the United States.”); see
also 28 U.S.C. § 1654 (“In all courts of the
United States the parties may plead and conduct their own
cases personally or by counsel as, by the rules of such
courts, respectively, are permitted to manage and conduct
causes therein.”). For this reason alone, the court
must dismiss the complaint.
addition, the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. The
complaint predicates jurisdiction on the Declaratory Judgment
Act without raising a federal question or asserting diversity
jurisdiction. “[T]he Declaratory Judgment Act ...
does not provide an independent basis for federal
jurisdiction.” Zutz v. Nelson, 601 F.3d 842,
850 (8th Cir. 2010) (citation and quotation marks omitted);
see also Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 70
n.19 (2009) (“[T]he Declaratory Judgment Act does not
enlarge the jurisdiction of the federal courts; it is
procedural only.”) (citation and quotation marks
omitted); Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Acute Care
Chiropractic Clinic P.A., 88 F.Supp.3d 985, 1015 (D.
Minn. 2015) (“[C]ourts have long understood that the
Declaratory Judgment Act is a procedural, not a
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
motions to dismiss [ECF No. 12, 14] are granted; and
case is dismissed without prejudice.
JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.
 In response to the motions, plaintiff
initially moved to voluntarily withdraw the action so that it
may proceed in state court. ECF No. 21. Plaintiff has now
withdrawn that motion, asserting that the court has