How federal courts use the "Rooker-Feldman" fraud to eliminate the constitutional rights of pro se litigants

“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.” ~ Mohandas K. Gandhi

So — you think you have fundamental constitutional rights, do you? Dream on, Bullwinkle! Apparently, like most other American sleeping beauties, you have probably never heard of Dred Scott, Homer Plessy, Fred Korematsu or the so-called "Rooker-Feldman" doctrine, which is based on a combination of Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923) and District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983).

In pertinent part, the Feldman majority held that, "United States district courts have no jurisdiction over challenges to state court decisions in particular cases arising out of judicial proceedings even if those challenges allege that the state court's action was unconstitutional. Review of those decisions may be had only in this Court."

Lone dissenter, Justice John Paul Stevens, said: "There are two basic flaws in the Court's analysis....Second, even if the refusal to grant a waiver were an adjudication, the federal statute that confers jurisdiction upon the United States District Court to entertain a constitutional challenge to the rules themselves also authorizes that court to entertain a collateral attack upon the unconstitutional application of those rules. The Court's opinion fails to distinguish between two concepts: appellate review and collateral attack. If a challenge to a state court's decision is brought in United States district court and alleges violations of the United States Constitution, then by definition it does not seek appellate review. It is plainly within the federal question jurisdiction of the federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1331."

Of course Justice Stevens was right. The principle he was talking about — the difference between the appellate process and collateral attacks — is clearly articulated by Justice Joseph P. Bradley in Barrow v. Hunton, 99 U.S. 80 (1878). Speaking for the court, Justice Bradley said:

"The question presented with regard to the jurisdiction of the circuit court is whether the proceeding to procure nullity of the former judgment in such a case as the present is or is not in its nature a separate suit, or whether it is a supplementary proceeding so connected with the original suit as to form an incident to it and substantially a continuation of it. If the proceeding is merely tantamount to the common law practice of moving to set aside a judgment for irregularity, or to a writ of error, or to a bill of review or an appeal, it would belong to the latter category, and the United States court could not properly entertain jurisdiction of the case. Otherwise, the circuit courts of the United States would become invested with power to control the proceedings in the state courts, or would have appellate jurisdiction over them in all cases where the parties are citizens of different states. Such a result would be totally inadmissible."

"On the other hand, if the proceedings are tantamount to a bill in equity to set aside a decree for fraud in the obtaining thereof, then they constitute an original and independent proceeding, and ... the case might be within the cognizance of the federal courts. The distinction between the two classes of cases may be somewhat nice, but it may be affirmed to exist. In the one class, there would be a mere revision of errors and irregularities, or of the legality and correctness of the judgments and decrees of the state courts, and in the other class, the investigation of a new case arising upon new facts, although having relation to the validity of an actual judgment or decree, or of the party's right to claim any benefit by reason thereof."

You may have noticed that Justice Bradley used the word "nice", which in this case means "fine", "nuanced", or "technical". That was the language of the day. The case of Ex Parte Lange, 85 U.S. 163 (1873), Justice Samuel Freeman Miller explains the term more clearly via the following quote: "A judgment may be erroneous and not void, and it may be erroneous because it is void. The distinctions between void and merely voidable judgments are very nice, and they may fall under the one class or the other as they are regarded for different purposes."

In the case of Ex Parte McCardle, 74 U.S. (7 Wallace) 506 (1868), Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase said: "Without jurisdiction the court cannot proceed at all in any cause. Jurisdiction is power to declare the law, and when it ceases to exist, the only function remaining to the court is that of announcing the fact and dismissing the cause (emphasis added). And this is not less clear upon authority than upon principle."

The difference between appeals and collateral attacks is that appeals are designed to correct errors (aka "mistakes", even if deliberate or malicious) in law made by trial court judges. Collateral attacks are designed to remedy situations where a trial judge acts outside his jurisdictional authority. A judicial act which is outside the judge's legal authority is a legal nullity and void from its inception ("ab initio"). In other words, it never existed from the viewpoint of the law, is of no legal effect whatsoever, and may be attacked collaterally in a separate and independent action on grounds that it is void (nonexistent, "ultra vires"), not merely voidable (aka "mistaken", "erroneous", "appealable").

Any person brave enough to venture into court as a pro se litigant needs to have a thorough working knowledge of these concepts. The reason is because pro se litgants need to know which type of court orders must be obeyed (while it goes through the appeals process to final resolution), and which type of court orders are jurisdictionless legal nullities which may be respectfully disobeyed and/or attacked collaterally. "A citizen is under no obligation to obey a jurisdictionless legal-nullity court order." See Ex Parte Fisk, 113 US 713 (1885), Ex Parte Rowland, 104 U.S. 604 (1881), Ex parte Lange, 85 U.S. (18 Wallace) 163 163 (1873), Ex parte Virginia, 100 U. S. 339 (1879), Ex parte Siebold, 100 U. S. 371 (1879), Ex parte Parks, 93 U. S. 18 (1876), Ex Parte Wells, 59 U.S. (18 Howard) 307 (1855), Ex Parte Kearney, 20 U.S. (7 Wheaton) 38 (1822), Ex Parte Bollman and Ex Parte Swartwout, 8 U.S. (4 Cranch) 75 (1807). See also Thrap v People, 192 Colo. 341, 558 P2d 576 (1977): "One cannot be convicted of contempt for respectfully declining to comply with an order which is beyond the court's authority."

Logic dictates that, by extension, the same principle applies to jurisdictionless legal-nullity orders by police officers which exceed their lawful authority. The problem here is that, just like judges, cops are trained to control the situation at all costs, but THEY ARE ARMED WITH GUNS instead of merely black robes and gavels, and can kill you with absolute impunity knowing nothing can happen to them for killing you if you choose to refuse to obey their illegal orders. So a great amount of discretion and common sense good judgment must be exercised by any individual-freedom activist who chooses to engage in civil disobedience or confront police in the streets. It doesn't do your cause any good for you to wind up dead while a constitution-hating cop gets off without consequence. Most often, a rogue cop who kills somebody gets an extended paid vacation followed by a promotion while a multi-agency (this tactic diffuses political accountability simultaneously with triangulating political support) "Critical Incident Response Team" conducts a fox-guarding-the-henhouse show "investigation" for their symbiotic buddies in the establishment media.

The Rooker-Feldman fraud is far worse than Justice Stevens contended in his Feldman dissent. As it is being unconstitutionally applied1 today by federal judges who have arrogantly anointed themselves with an absolute judicial immunity found nowhere in the U.S. Constitution — see Bradley v. Fisher, 80 U.S. (13 Wallace) 335 (April 8, 1872), Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547 (1967) and Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978); see also Tenney v. Brandhove, 341 U.S. 367 (1951) (the dissenters were 100% correct, tyranny has been the result of these four immunity decisions) — it completely negates 42 USC 1983 and 18 USC 241, 242, the federal civil rights statutes, both civil and criminal, along with 28 U.S.C. § 1331, the federal question statute.


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1. An act may be unconstitutional as written, or as applied, or both. See Giaccio v. Pennsylvania, 382 U.S. 399 (1966).

Under construction . . .