United States District Court, D. Minnesota
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
ELIZABETH COWAN WRIGHT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Joel Munt's
(“Munt”) Civil Rights Complaint Pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and First Amendment Right to
Petition (Dkt. No. 1 (“Complaint”)). Munt is a
prisoner at Minnesota Correctional Facility
(“MCF”) - Oak Park Heights. (Id. at 2.)
Munt did not pay the filing fee for this matter but instead
applied for in forma pauperis (âIFPâ) status. (Dkt.
No. 2.) By order dated January 31, 2019, the Court ordered
Munt to pay an initial partial filing fee of at least $15.09.
(Dkt. No. 3.) Munt paid the initial partial filing fee (Dkt.
No. 4) and the matter is again before the Court on Munt's
IFP application. By separate order, the Court will grant
Munt's application for IFP status, but for the following
reasons, the Court here recommends that defendants MN Courts
and U.S. Courts be dismissed (without prejudice) from this
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review any
“complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks
redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of
a governmental entity.” Munt's Complaint names
governmental entities including the “MN Courts”
and the “United States Courts.” (See,
e.g., Dkt. No. 1 at 1, 14.) In its § 1915A review,
the Court must dismiss “any portion of the complaint,
if the complaint-(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). Under § 1915A,
the Court should also dismiss claims which lack subject
matter jurisdiction. Iverson v. Dept. of
Corrections, 07-cv-4710 DSD/RLE, 2008 WL 205281, at *2
(D. Minn. Jan. 7, 2008), R&R adopted (D. Minn.
Jan. 24, 2008).
thrust of Munt's claims against the U.S. Courts and the
Minnesota Courts is that they apply legal doctrines that
impermissibly constrain habeas corpus claims challenging
certain types of prison discipline. (Dkt. No. 1 at 37,
45-47.) He asserts, for instance, that the intersection of
certain legal rules has “the effect of completely
suspending the privilege of habeas corpus and right to
petition for the vast majority of [Minnesota] prison
discipline cases . . . .” (Id. at 45.) In
particular, he points to courts' applications of the
doctrine of mootness and the favorable-termination
requirement of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477
(1994), and later cases. (Id. at 45, 47.)
reviewed the Complaint, the Court first recommends dismissal
of the claims against the Minnesota Courts. In effect, these
are simply claims against the State of Minnesota. State
“courts as entities are not vulnerable to § 1983
suits, because they are protected by state immunity under the
eleventh amendment.” Harris v. Mo. Ct. of Appeals,
Western Dist., 787 F.2d 427, 429 (8th Cir. 1986). Under
the U.S. Constitution's Eleventh Amendment, “[t]he
Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to
extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted
against one of the United States by Citizens of another State
. . . .” Notwithstanding the use here of “another
State, ” Eleventh Amendment precedents also establish
that “‘an unconsenting State is immune from suits
brought in federal courts by her own citizens as
well as by citizens of another state.'”
Fryberger v. Univ. of Ark., 889 F.3d 471, 473 (8th
Cir. 2018) (quoting Port Auth. Trans-Hudson Corp. v.
Feeney, 495 U.S. 299, 304 (1990)). Minnesota-and its
courts-are thus immune from suit by Munt in federal
the Eleventh Amendment makes a state immune from suit, claims
against that state should be dismissed. See, e.g.,
Cassell v. County of Ramsey, No. 10-cv-4981 JRT/TNL,
2011 WL 7561261, at *6 (D. Minn. Nov. 2, 2011), R&R
adopted 2012 WL 928242 (D. Minn. Mar. 19, 2012),
aff'd 490 Fed.Appx. 842 (8th Cir. 2012). The
Court thus recommends the dismissal without prejudice of
Munt's claim against the Minnesota Courts.
the Court also recommends dismissal of the U.S. Courts for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Under Rule 12(h)(3) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “[i]f the court
determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the
action.” (Emphasis added.) Having reviewed the
Complaint, the Court finds that it lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over any claims that Munt seeks to assert
against the U.S. Courts.
F.D.I.C. v. Meyer, the U.S. Supreme Court stated
that “[a]bsent a waiver, sovereign immunity shields the
federal government and its agencies from suit.” 510
U.S. 471, 475 (1994) (citing cases). For purposes of this
rule, the U.S. courts are a federal agency. See,
e.g., Broughton v. U.S. Bankr. Ct., No.
17-cv-0113 (RE), 2017 WL 9482515, at *2 (E.D. N.C. June 15,
2017) (citing cases), R&R adopted, 2017 WL
2955762 (E.D. N.C. July 11, 2017); Gillard v. U.S. Dist.
Ct., No. 16-cv-10750 (DJC), 2016 WL 1698266, at *2 (D.
Mass. Apr. 27, 2016). The Eighth Circuit has held that when
“the United States has not waived sovereign immunity 
there is no subject matter jurisdiction.” Hart v.
United States, 630 F.3d 1085, 1089 (8th Cir. 2011).
Absent subject matter jurisdiction, the district court may
order dismissal sua sponte. Id.
filings say nothing about a potential waiver permitting his
claims. The Court observes that under 5 U.S.C. § 702,
Congress has waived sovereign immunity for certain
federal-court actions seeking only injunctive relief:
A person suffering legal wrong because of agency action, or
adversely affected or aggrieved by agency action within the
meaning of a relevant statute, is entitled to judicial review
thereof. An action in a court of the United States seeking
relief other than money damages and stating a claim that an
agency or an officer or employee thereof acted or failed to
act in an official capacity or under color of legal authority
shall not be dismissed nor relief therein be denied on the
ground that it is against the United States or that the
United States is an indispensable party.
5 U.S.C. § 702. This part of § 702 constitutes a
waiver of the United States's sovereign immunity and
permits certain federal court claims against the federal
government and its agencies. See, e.g., Elliott
v. Wilson, No. 15-cv-1908 (JNE/KMM), 2017 WL 1185213, at
*6 (D. Minn. Jan. 17, 2017) (citing cases), R&R
adopted, 2017 WL 1180422 (D. Minn. Mar. 29, 2017);
Woody v. U.S. Bureau of Prisons, No. 16-cv-0862
(DWF/BRT), 2016 WL 7757523, at *2 (D. Minn. Nov. 22, 2016)
(citing cases), R&R adopted, 2017 WL 150505 (D.
Minn. Jan. 13, 2017).
Munt had raised § 702, however, it would not permit his
claims against the U.S. Courts. Under the
“agency” definition that applies to § 702,
the U.S. courts are specifically not an agency. 5 U.S.C.
§ 701(b)(1)(B); cf. United States v. Lemon, No.
99-cr-0079 (PAM/JGL), 2001 WL 1628651, at *1 n.1 (D. Minn.
Sept. 11, 2001) (citing statute). Section 702 thus does not
constitute a sovereign immunity waiver permitting suit
against the U.S. Courts.
the federal government's sovereign immunity strips a
court of jurisdiction, claims against the government must be
dismissed. See, e.g., Kerber v. Carver Cty. Farm
Serv. Agency, No. 18-cv-09097 (MJD/BRT), 2018 WL
6529494, at *2 (D. Minn. Dec. 12, 2018) (citing Roth v.
United States, 476 Fed.Appx. 95, 95 (8th Cir. 2012)).
The Eighth Circuit has made clear that dismissal for lack of
subject jurisdiction should be without prejudice. See
Hart, 630 F.3d at 1091 (affirming dismissal, but
modifying to be without prejudice). Accordingly, the Court
recommends the dismissal without prejudice of Munt's
claims against the U.S. Courts.