A father, Gyorgy Matrai, sued his California family court judge in the U.S. District Court for the ND California for ordering a bond of $5 million before Mr. Matrai could see his son. Mr. Matrai argues that the bond violates his, and his son’s, substantive due process rights under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. He asks, as relief, that his family court judge, Joni Hiramoto, be enjoined from imposing any such bond requirement on him in the state family court proceedings. Judge Hiramoto files to dismiss, and the court ordered Mr. Matrai to show cause why the Court should not dismiss the action under the Younger doctrine.
Younger abstention is appropriate in civil cases “when the state proceedings: (1) are ongoing, (2) are quasi-criminal enforcement actions or involve a state’s interest in enforcing the orders and judgments of its courts, (3) implicate an important state interest, and (4) allow litigants to raise federal challenges.” If those “threshold elements” are met, courts then consider “whether the federal action would have the practical effect of enjoining the state proceedings and whether an exception to Younger applies.”
The Court reviewed each requirement of the Younger doctrine and concluded that dismissal was appropriate. Mr. Matrai further argued that his son would suffer irreparable harm by not seeing his father. This exception to Younger applies when the irreparable loss is both “great and immediate.” The court, however, found it inapplicable here. Additionally, Count I was subject to dismissal because it is barred under the Anti-Injunction Act (28 USC 2283), and Count II was subject to dismissal because of Mr. Matrai’s failure to state a claim for relief under 42 USC 1983.
Finally, Mr. Matrai requests additional relief in the form of access to his son using the Hague Abduction Convention (Article 21). He argues that since he was residing in the UK at the time the California divorce/custody proceeding commenced, he should be entitled to rights of access to his son under UK law. The court, however, concluded that any rights of access due to Mr. Matrai would be dictated by the domestic law of the child’s habitual residence, which was California.