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Minford v. Berks County (Inc.)

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

December 9, 2014

BERKS COUNTY (INC.)/COUNTY OF BERKS (INC.), along with its OFFICES, Employees, agencies and instrumentalities; and VARIOUS UNKNOWN OR UN-NAMED AGENTS AND INSTRUMENTALITIES a/k/a JOHN/JANE DOE(S), Respondents.


EDWARD G. SMITH, District Judge.

The prose petitioner commenced this action by filing a petition for declaratory judgment. While the convoluted nature of this petition renders it difficult for the court to discern exactly what the petitioner is seeking to do in this action, he appears to have brought this action to prevent Berks County or its agents from collecting a debt. Based on the deficient jurisdictional allegations in the petition, the court ordered the petitioner to show cause why the court should not dismiss the case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Although the petitioner responded to the court's order, his response is wholly inadequate to show that the court has subject-matter jurisdiction over this action. Therefore, the court will dismiss the action without prejudice because the court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction to consider the claims raised in the petition.


The petitioner filed a petition for declaratory judgment on September 17, 2014.[1] Doc. No. 1. Because it appeared from the allegations in the petition that the court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over this case, the court entered an order on September 29, 2014, requiring the petitioner to show cause why the court should not dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. Doc. No. 3. The petitioner filed a response to the order to show cause on October 22, 2014. Doc. No. 4.[2] He also filed an exhibit in support of his response on October 24, 2014. Doc. No. 5.


In his response to the court's order, the petitioner initially states that "while [he] recognizes the courts [sic] confusion it can not [sic] be assumed that through the petitioners [sic] lack of corporate rule and regulation schooling (color of law), or petitioners [sic] inability to properly articulate the petition, that jurisdi[c]tion does not exist." Ct. Directed Resp. to Pet. for Declaratory J. ("Resp.") at 2, Doc. No. 4. After this initial statement, the petitioner proceeds to engage in a rambling and disjointed discussion of how he believes that "Article 111 Section 2, " the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, the Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act, the Foreign Agents Registration Act, admiralty law, commerce and antitrust regulations, and the Public Vessels Act apply to this case. Id. at 2-8. The petitioner then concludes his illuminating discussion by requesting that the court take judicial notice of various statues, treaties, and alleged treaties, including 18 U.S.C. § 241 (Conspiracy Against Rights), 18 U.S.C. § 242 (Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law), "THE CONVENTION DE LA HAYE 1949 et. seq., " the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Convention, and "CODES OF CANON LAW - ELEMENTS OF ECCLESATICAL LAW." Id at 8-10. In addition to these arguments, the petitioner attaches a notice from the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS"), which he asserts shows that he is a "foreign eligible entity" for jurisdictional purposes. See id at 2; IRS Not., Doc. No. 5.

None of the petitioner's arguments, much less the IRS notice, establish that this court has jurisdiction over this purported declaratory judgment action. Although the majority of the petitioner's arguments are inaccurate or otherwise contort the law in such a manner as to not merit a response, the court discusses (or at least summarizes) and addresses them here for sake of completeness.

A. Article III, Section 2 of the United States Constitution

Despite the court previously advising the petitioner of his inability to exclusively rely on Article III, Section 2 of the United States Constitution to support his jurisdictional arguments, he starts off his discussion by once again referring generally to Article III. See id. at 2. Although he mentions no applicable law in this section, it appears that he relies upon an IRS notice, dated April 8, 2014, to support his assertion that the court has jurisdiction because he somehow is a foreign citizen or entity. See id. In this regard, the IRS notice indicates that the IRS approved a "Form 8832, Entity Classification Election" meaning that it "approved your election as a foreign eligible entity with a single owner to be disregarded as a separate entity." See IRS Not., Doc. No. 5.

Contrary to the petitioner's assertion, this notice does not establish that he is a foreign citizen (or a foreign state) for diversity (or Article III) purposes for the following reasons: First, the petitioner in this declaratory judgment action is noted as "Richard A. Minford, " and "Richard A. Minford" appears by all signs to be an individual and not an "entity."[3] Second, the IRS notice is directed to "RICHARD ALFRED MINFORD BANKRUPTCY[, ] RICHARD ALFRED MINFORD TIEE" and, thus, is not directed toward him individually.[4] Third, the petitioner has cited no case or statute indicating that the IRS's treatment of the aforementioned bankruptcy entity as a "foreign eligible entity" for tax purposes renders him a foreign citizen or foreign state for citizenship purposes. Finally, even if the IRS notice was somehow applicable to him individually, it does not lead to a conclusion that he is a foreign citizen for diversity purposes because it does not relate to his domicile.[5] More specifically, an individual's "[c]itizenship is synonymous with domicile, and the domicile of an individual is his true, fixed and permanent home and place of habitation. It is the place to which, whenever he is absent, he has the intention of returning.'" See McCann v. Newman Irrevocable Trust, 458 F.3d 281, 286 (3d Cir. 2006) (quoting Vlandis v. Kline, 412 U.S. 441, 454 (1973)); see Krasnov v. Dinan, 465 F.2d 1298, 1300-01 (3d Cir. 1972) ("Where one lives is prima facie evidence of domicile[.]"). Based on the record before the court, the petitioner has not demonstrated that he is anything other than domiciled in, and thus a citizen of, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.[6]

B. The Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act

In asserting that the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act applies, the petitioner cites to various statutes, regulations, and acts, and then proceeds to misinterpret them to support conclusions such as: (1) the International Organizations Immunities Act "relinquished every public office of the United States to the United Nations[;]" (2) 8 U.S.C. § 1481 provides that "every public office is a foreign state, including all political subdivisions[] (i.e. every single court is considered a separate foreign entity[)];" and (3) 28 U.S.C. § 3002(15) "states that the United States is a Federal Corporation and not a Government, including the Judicial Procedural Section." Resp. at 3 (emphasis omitted). He then goes on a rambling recitation during which he asserts that the "[f]ailure to grant petitioners declaratory judgment for sep[a]ration from the private corporate establishment(s) would be tantamount to creating conditions of involuntary servitude and/or SLAVERY n[ei]ther of which this Court should condone much less establish." Id. at 4 (emphasis in original). None of these misguided arguments show that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act applies in this case.

C. The Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act

The petitioner's arguments relating to the application of the Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act do not relate to the Act itself. Instead, he argues that the court "should consider the jurisdiction granted through the man' RIHARD [sic] MINFORD was granted through (but not limited to) the powers reserved to the people through the [T]enth [A]mendment[.]" Id. at 5. Unfortunately, as previously discussed, the petitioner cannot confer subject-matter jurisdiction over an action to this court and the Tenth Amendment does not support ...

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