United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ANDREW U.D. STRAW, Plaintiff,
U.S. DISTRICT COURT FOR THE S. DIST. OF INDIANA Defendant.
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
Straw, a suspended attorney and frequent pro se
filer in this district, has filed yet another lawsuit, this
time seeking monetary damages of $5, 000, 000 (five million
dollars) arising out of what he contends were due process
violations in a disciplinary proceeding suspending him from
the practice of law in this Court. Specifically, Straw
alleges this Court deprived him of due process by failing to
give him a hearing before imposing reciprocal discipline.
(Docket #1 at 14). Straw also has moved to proceed in
forma pauperis in this case. For the reasons stated
below, the Court grants in forma pauperis status but
dismisses the action.
In Forma Pauperis Status
federal statute provides a mechanism for an indigent litigant
to proceed “in forma pauperis” - that
is, to maintain an action in federal court even if the
litigant is unable to pay the associated filing fees. 28
U.S.C. § 1915. Based on Straw's current income and
expenses, his motion to proceed in forma pauperis,
dkt. , is GRANTED.
court must dismiss the case if the court determines that the
claim of poverty is untrue or that the action is frivolous,
malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). An
action is “‘frivolous where it lacks an arguable
basis either in law or in fact.'” Denton v.
Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992) (quoting Nietzke
v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989)).
action lacks any arguable basis in law or fact, and is
frivolous as it seeks to relitigate questions decided against
him in multiple other proceedings. Straw's suspension in
this Court was a direct result of the Indiana Supreme
Court's decision to suspend Straw for violating
Indiana's professional conduct rules (specifically, rules
prohibiting frivolous claims and arguments). In the
Matter of Andrew U.D. Straw, 68 N.E.3d 1070, 1072 (Ind.
2017), cert. denied sub nom. Straw v. Indiana Supreme
Court, __ U.S. __, 137 S.Ct. 2309, reh'g
denied. This Court (and other federal courts in the
Seventh Circuit) then imposed reciprocal discipline against
Straw. See In re: Andrew U.D. Straw, No.
1:17-mc-00013, docket # 9 (S.D. Ind. Mar. 16, 2017). Straw
moved this Court for reinstatement, and after that motion was
denied, he appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals affirmed this Court's decision.
In re: Straw, ---Fed. Appx. ----, 2017 WL 6539217,
at *2 (7th Cir. Dec. 21, 2017) (finding “Straw's
argument that the district court must reinstate him is a
loser”) (nonprecedential disposition),
Seventh Circuit rejected the very argument Straw makes in
this case, concluding, among other things, that Straw
received a hearing in state court and was not entitled to
another hearing in this Court before reciprocal discipline
was imposed. Id. Straw has recently made, and lost,
substantially similar arguments in other cases. See,
e.g., Straw v. Seventh Circuit Court of
Appeals, No. 2:18-cv-28, 2018 WL 637972 at *3 (N.D. Ind.
Jan. 31, 2018) (denying pauper status and dismissing
complaint in which Straw sought a declaratory judgment that
reciprocal suspension in district court without a hearing
violated his rights to due process); Straw v. U.S.
District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin,
No. 17-cv-842, 2017 WL 5989204 at *3 (W.D. Wis. Dec. 1, 2017)
(finding no due process violation in federal district court
disciplinary proceeding where state court provided Straw
“an opportunity for a full and fair hearing”).
this action must be dismissed under 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(iii) because in it, Straw seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief. The
District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, as an
arm of the United States, cannot be sued without specific
statutory consent. See United States v. Shaw, 309
U.S. 495, 500-01 (1940). Furthermore, even though Straw makes
no claims against individual judges in this case, the Court
notes that judges are absolutely immune from damages claims
arising out of their judicial actions. See Stump v.
Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356-357 (1978); accord Bolin
v. Story, 255 F.3d 1234, 1239-40 (11th Cir. 2000).
light of the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this case
is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). The
motion requesting service of process, dkt. , is DENIED AS
MOOT. Final judgment in accordance with this decision shall