United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division
ORDER REMANDING CASE
M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the Court for review of subject matter
August 18, 2018, Tracy Arnold was issued a “State of
Mississippi - Uniform Traffic Ticket” for driving with
an expired license. Doc. #2. On August 27, 2018, the Coahoma
County, Mississippi, Justice Court set a September 19, 2018,
court date for the ticket. Doc. #6-4.
September 17, 2018, Arnold filed a notice of removal in the
United States District Court for the Northern District of
Mississippi alleging 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 28 U.S.C.
§ 1441(a) as the bases for removal. Doc. #1 at 2. The
caption of the notice of removal lists Marshall Fisher, Herb
Frierson, Jim Hood, and Marvin Vaughn as
“Plaintiffs” and Arnold as “Respondent.”
Id. at 1.
removal, Arnold filed on October 3, 2018,
“Defendant's Original Answer and Counter
Claim” in which she asserts defenses to the ticket and
counterclaims against Fisher, Frierson, Hood, and Vaughn.
Doc. #5 at 1-3 (answer), 3-16 (counterclaims). On December 6,
2018, Arnold filed a document titled,
“Counter-Plaintiff's Request for Entry of
Default.” Doc. #8.
December 7, 2018, United States Magistrate Judge Roy Percy
ordered Arnold to show cause why her case should not be
dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Doc. #7 at
2. Arnold timely responded to the show cause order, arguing
this case presents a federal question and implicates
diversity jurisdiction. Doc. #9 at 1, 3.
U.S.C. § 1331, the federal question statute, provides
that the federal district courts have jurisdiction over
“all civil actions arising under the Constitution,
laws, or treaties of the United States.” By its terms,
§ 1331 does not grant jurisdiction over criminal cases.
Thus, a defendant in a criminal prosecution may not rely on
§ 1331 as a basis for removal. See, e.g.,
Florida v. Cave, No. 19-61830, 2019 WL 3302571, at
*1 (S.D. Fla. July 23, 2019); California v. Harris,
No. 19-cv-1677, 2019 WL 2493621, at *2 (N.D. Cal. May 6,
2019). Similarly, 28 U.S.C. § 1332, the diversity
jurisdiction statute, provides for jurisdiction over
“civil actions.” Thus, “it is clear that
diversity of citizenship is not a proper basis for removal of
a criminal proceeding.” Wright v. London Grove
Twp., 567 F.Supp. 768, 770 (E.D. Pa. 1983).
Arnold's arguments to the contrary,  the traffic
citation prosecution at issue here is undoubtedly a criminal
proceeding. See Miss. Code Ann. § 63-1-5(4)
(operating a motor vehicle without a license constitutes a
misdemeanor); Miss. Code Ann. § 63-9-21(3)(c)
(“The ticket shall include information that will
constitute a complaint charging the offense for which the
ticket was issued, and when duly sworn to and filed with a
court of competent jurisdiction, prosecution may proceed
thereunder.”). Accordingly, remand is warranted because
neither § 1331 nor § 1332 provides a basis for
jurisdiction over this removed case.
Court notes, however, that 28 U.S.C. § 1443(1) provides
for removal of a criminal action when the criminal proceeding
is “[a]gainst any person who is denied or cannot
enforce in the courts of such State a right under any law
providing for the equal civil rights of citizens of the
United States, or of all persons within the jurisdiction
thereof.” Arnold's notice of removal alleges that
the enforcement of the ticket is contrary to her civil
rights. See Doc. #1 at 7-8. Liberally construing
Arnold's pro se notice as seeking removal under this
provision,  the Court still finds remand warranted.
must appear, in accordance with the provisions of §
1443(1), that the removal petitioner is denied or cannot
enforce the specified federal rights in the courts of the
State.” Johnson v. Mississippi, 421 U.S. 213,
219 (1975) (quotation marks and alterations omitted). While
Arnold's notice of removal argues that “[n]o
procedure for challenging the misdemeanor traffic tickets are
set out in Mississippi Code or Mississippi Administrative
Code, ” Doc. #1 at 9, this is simply untrue.
Mississippi's Uniform Traffic Ticket Law expressly
requires a defendant be provided an opportunity to be heard.
See Miss. Code Ann. § 63-9-21(3)(c) (requiring
notice of “the name of the court in which the cause is
to be heard, and the date and time the person is to appear to
answer the charge”). Furthermore, there can be no
dispute that Arnold was provided a court date in the state
court action. Because there is no indication that Arnold
lacks the ability to enforce her rights, no jurisdiction
exists under § 1443. Accordingly, the Court must remand
this case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.