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Baker v. Jones

United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division

January 3, 2019

VICTOR BAKER, Petitioner,
v.
ALBERT C. JONES, INDIAN PROBATE JUDGE FOR THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, Respondent.

          ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          Timothy J. Cavan United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Victor Baker filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (Doc. 4) and a proposed Complaint alleging constitutional violations occurred during Lorraine Marie Miller's probate proceedings. (Docs. 1 and 1-1 at 3-7.) The motion to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted, but the Complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         I. Motion To Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Mr. Baker indicates that he attempted to pay the filing fee via a U.S. Postal Money Order, but the Court did not receive payment. (Doc. 3.) Although Mr. Baker has tried to locate the missing money order, to date he has not been successful. (Doc. 6.) Mr. Baker subsequently submitted a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 4.) It appears Mr. Baker has made a sufficient showing as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Because Mr. Baker lacks sufficient funds to prosecute this action, the motion to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted.

         II. Analysis

         As explained below, Mr. Baker's complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim.

         A. Probate Proceedings/Relief Requested

         Apparently, Lorraine Miller's will bequeathed firearms to George Miller and Arden Baker. (Doc. 1 at 6.) Mr. Baker believes both of these individuals to be “prohibited persons” under federal law. He alleges Miller is incompetent, and that Arden Baker is a felon who was dishonorably discharged from the military. Id.; see also (Doc. 1-1 at 5-7.) Baker claims Indian Probate Judge Albert C. Jones has violated 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(d), (g), and (n); Probate Codes §§ 4.202-4.308; and 43 CFR Subtitle A. Id; see also (Doc. 1-1 at 5.) According to Mr. Baker, because the will is illegal, Probate Judge Albert C. Jones has acted unlawfully in enforcing the will. Id.; see also (Doc. 1-1 at 3.)

         Mr. Baker explains he has suffered mental stress as a result of these actions. It was apparently known that he contested Ms. Miller's will, and he now believes George Miller and/or Arden Baker may attempt to retaliate against him. Mr. Baker's alleges his fears are increased due to the reportedly unlawful award of firearms to these individuals. Id. at 7. Mr. Baker's states his eating and sleeping habits have been affected due to his fear. Id.

         Mr. Baker asks this Court to: (1) prevent George Miller and Arden Baker from obtaining weapons via the unlawful will; (2) declare Lorraine Miller's will to be illegal; (3) inform and discipline Judge Jones for his unlawful acts; (4) provide compensation to him for denial of funds from Lorraine Miller's will and additional lost income in the amount of $200, 000, and (5) award punitive damages to him in the amount of $200, 000 for the mental stress flowing from the purported federal violations. Id.

         B. Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)

         A complaint filed by any person proceeding in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) is subject to a mandatory and sua sponte review and dismissal by the Court to the extent the claims are frivolous, malicious, fail to state claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000)(stating 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) “applies to all in forma pauperis complaints”).

         Baker names Indian Probate Judge Jones, acting in his official capacity, as the sole Defendant in this matter. See, (Doc. 1 at 4.) In certain circumstances, federal law provides for the Secretary of the Interior to conduct the probate process of the estate of an Indian person who disposes by will of allotments held under trust. Under that process, the Secretary is required to approve the validity of a will. 25 U.S.C. § 373.

         The details of the probate procedures are set forth in federal regulations promulgated under authority of several federal statues, including 25 U.S.C. § 373. The basic steps of the process (as described from the ...


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