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Man’s claims against ex-wife don’t belong in federal court

Where the court dismissed all federal claims brought by an estranged husband, it declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims asserted against his former wife relating to their custody agreement. And, in any event, the court lacked jurisdiction to modify an existing custody order and the Rooker-Feldman doctrine precluded the attempted appeal from a state court judgment.


Plaintiff Junius J. Joyner III and defendant Emily B. Redman were previously married and divorced on March 29, 2011. Plaintiff and defendant share two children together, and have been parties to various child custody proceedings in Prince William County Circuit Court.

In the instant case, plaintiff is suing Redman for (1) tortious interference with parental rights, (2) petition for rule to show cause and (3) petition to modify custody. Redman filed a motion to dismiss, requesting that the court: (1) dismiss this action pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and (6) and (2) enter a pre-filing injunction against plaintiff.


Defendant contends that this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff’s claims because plaintiff does not assert any federal law claims against her and that this court should decline to exercise supplemental or diversity jurisdiction. This court agrees.

Plaintiff’s complaint did assert claims against other defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. However, all of the defendants subject to those claims have since been dismissed from this action. Plaintiff argues that, “in the interest of fairness and the unique underlying issues showing Father cannot receive a fair trial in state court,” the court should retain jurisdiction over his state law claims. Without the § 1983 claim, however, this court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s remaining causes of action.

Additionally, in filing this case, plaintiff explicitly asks the court to modify the existing custody order and order a show cause hearing. These requests concern “what are genuinely … child custody” matters and thus federal courts lack authority to grant the relief plaintiff seeks.

Dismissal is warranted for another reason. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine precludes plaintiff’s request for damages related to injuries arising from a state court decision. For these reasons, the court finds that plaintiff failed to adequately establish that jurisdiction is proper in this court.


Defendant also requests that this court enter a pre-filing injunction against plaintiff, barring him from filing any additional pro se cases against her in this district without prior leave of court. Defendant alleges plaintiff has filed multiple “vexatious, harassing, or duplicative lawsuits” intending to harass defendant. Defendant further alleges that even though she has been awarded sanctions in both this district and in Prince William County Circuit Court, plaintiff (1) continues to file harassing lawsuits and (2) refuses to pay the awarded sanctions.

Before imposing a pre-filing injunction, the court must provide the litigant notice and an opportunity to be heard. Accordingly, this court will hold a hearing to provide plaintiff an opportunity to be heard on the pre-filing injunction request.

Defendant’s motion to dismiss granted.

Joyner v. Prince William County Circuit Court, Case No. 1:22-cv-00725, March 10, 2023. EDVA at Alexandria (Giles). VLW 023-3-122. 9 pp.

VLW 023-3-122