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Steven v. Mnuchin

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

January 29, 2018

CRAIG STEVEN, Trustee of the Resulting Trust, Plaintiff,
STEVEN TERNER MNUCHIN, as Secretary of the Treasury U.S. Governor of the IMF, Defendant.

          Craig Steven Walquist, [1] pro se plaintiff.

          Steven Terner Mnuchin, United States Secretary of the Treasury, defendant.



         Craig Steven Walquist brought a petition for garnishment of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's salary in the amount of $13, 401 to satisfy Walquist's debt to the IRS, because he claims to have disclaimed all obligations to pay federal taxes. (See Garnishment Pet., Nov. 27, 2017, Docket No. 1.) Magistrate Judge David T. Schultz issued a report and recommendation (“R&R”) recommending that Walquist's petition be denied and the action dismissed as frivolous. (R&R, Dec. 8, 2017, Docket No. 6.)

         Now before the Court is the R&R, as well as several filings by Walquist alleging “Refusal For Cause.” (See Docket Nos. 4, 5, 7.) The Court has reviewed these filings and finds that only one of them relates to the R&R. In that filing, Walquist alleges that the Magistrate Judge's “uninvited legal opinion is in error” and returned a copy of the R&R with the words “Refusal For Cause” written across it. (Objs./Refusal for Cause at 2 & Ex. 1, Dec. 12, 2017, Docket No. 7.) Because the Magistrate Judge exercised proper authority under federal law and because his findings were not clearly erroneous, the Court will adopt the R&R in full.



         Under the Federal Magistrate Judges Act, a magistrate judge has the authority to propose findings and recommendations in the form of an R&R on dispositive issues. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B)-(C); accord D. Minn. LR 72.2(b). The R&R must then be reviewed by the district judge, who may accept, reject, or modify the recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); accord D. Minn. LR 72.2(b).

         A party may file “specific written objections” to the R&R. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2); accord D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(1). A party's objections “should specify the portions of the magistrate judge's [R&R] to which objections are made and provide a basis for those objections.” Mayer v. Walvatne, No. 07-1958, 2008 WL 4527774, at *2 (D. Minn. Sept. 28, 2008). For dispositive issues, the Court reviews de novo a “properly objected to” portion of an R&R. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); accord D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(3). “Objections which are not specific but merely repeat arguments presented to and considered by a magistrate judge are not entitled to de novo review, but rather are reviewed for clear error.” Montgomery v. Compass Airlines, LLC, 98 F.Supp.3d 1012, 1017 (D. Minn. 2015).


         Walquist did not formally object to the R&R; however, his most recent filing suggests that he objects to the Magistrate Judge's authority to issue an R&R in this case. (See Objs./Refusal for Cause at 1-2 (calling the Magistrate Judge's opinion “unsolicited” and “uninvited”).) Although Walquist paid a filing fee to file a case in this district, he suggests that he meant for the Court be “utilized as evidence repository for [] documents . . . while the Garnishment is being executed in” the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. (Id. at 2.)

         The Court will construe this filing as an objection. Walquist submitted several prior “Refusals for Cause, ” (see Docket Nos. 4-5), but they do not appear to address the Magistrate Judge's authority specifically. As such, the Court will review this objection de novo. Because the remainder of Walquist's filing does not specify the portions of the R&R to which he is objecting and does not give a specific basis for his objections, the Court will review the content of the R&R for clear error.

         The Magistrate Judge issued the R&R recommending that Walquist's case be dismissed in accordance with his authority under federal law. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B)-(C). Walquist need not “invite” or “solicit” the Magistrate Judge's opinion, because the authority to issue an R&R is bestowed by federal law. Thus Walquist's objection fails.

         The Magistrate Judge recommends dismissal of Walquist's case as frivolous. (R&R at 2.) The Magistrate Judge noted that the Court has the power to dismiss an action sua sponte if it is frivolous. (Id. (citing Mallard v. U.S. Dist. Court for S. Dist. Iowa, 490 U.S. 296, 307-08 (1989); Porter v. Fox, 99 F.3d 271, 273 (8th Cir. 1996); Fitzgerald v. First E. Seventh St. Tenants Corp., 221 F.3d 362, 364 (2d Cir. 2000)).) The Magistrate Judge also found that Walquist's petition is frivolous because he “has presented no colorable claim that the audit of his tax return conducted by the IRS is unlawful, or that the conclusions of the audit were erroneous, ” and “has not alleged with any degree of plausibility why [any] compensation should be garnished from the salary of a cabinet official.” (Id.) This finding is not clearly erroneous, as Walquist's action lacks “an arguable basis either ...

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