The opinion of the court was delivered by: NORTHROP
Elroy X. Lewis, an inmate at the Maximum Security Facility of the Lorton Correctional Complex, instituted this suit, Civil Action No. 85-2438, to contest the settlement and consent decree entered into by the parties and approved by the Court in John Doe v. District of Columbia, Civil Action No. 79-1726 (D.D.C. 1979). That suit was a class action brought by the prisoners in the Maximum Security Facility at Lorton, including Lewis, against the District of Columbia municipal and reformatory officials who administered Lorton.
In this current action, Lewis has sued United States District Judge June L. Green, the judge who presided over Doe and approved the settlement; Covington and Burling, the law firm which represented the prisoner class in that litigation (hereinafter "Covington"); Peter J. Nickles, an attorney who handled the case at Covington; the Office of the Corporation Counsel of Washington, D.C., the arm of the District government which entered into the decree with the class representatives in Doe ; Marion S. Barry, the Washington, D.C. Mayor; James Palmer, the Director of the Department of Corrections of the District; and William M. Plaut, the Acting Administrator of the Maximum Security Facility. Mr. Lewis alleges in his complaint that the defendants conspired to deprive him and did deprive him of his constitutional and civil rights by concluding that litigation by the settlement and consent decree. Essentially, he asserts the infringements of rights to a jury trial and damages in the Doe litigation, in violation of the Seventh and Fifth Amendments.
He sues under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985, seeking injunctive relief from defendant Judge Green and damages from the other defendants.
Presently before the Court are three motions to dismiss -- the first from defendants Palmer, Plaut, Barry, and Corporation Counsel; the second from defendants Covington and Nickles; and the third from Judge Green. For reasons of efficiency and clarity, all three motions will be considered in this single memorandum. Before delving into the legal analysis, however, a brief encapsulation of the background of this suit is in order.
Inmates in the Lorton Maximum Security Facility brought a class action against the District of Columbia and several of its officials and employees, challenging the conditions of the confinement. John Doe v. District of Columbia, Civil Action No. 79-1726 (D.D.C. 1979). The complaint charged the defendants with the infliction of cruel and inhuman treatment and the negligent failure to provide adequate protection against inmate assault. Judge June L. Green presided over the trial, in which the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiffs. The jury found that the defendants had violated the Eighth Amendment, their common law duty of care, and their statutory duty of care. The plaintiffs were awarded injunctive relief and monetary damages. The defendants appealed.
On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed the judgment of the district court and remanded the case for a new trial. The court of appeals cited four grounds for reversal: 1) the district court's issuance of a protective order sharply curtailing the ability of the defendants' counsel to discuss with their clients information obtained during discovery; 2) the trial court's failure to instruct the jury that the defendants could not be held liable on a theory of respondeat superior ; 3) its use of a misleading instruction concerning the danger posed to weaker inmates by their proximity to a group of violence-prone prisoners; and 4) its authorization of damages for the intrinsic value of the prisoners' eighth amendment rights. Doe v. District of Columbia, 225 U.S. App. D.C. 225, 697 F.2d 1115, 1117-18 (D.C. Cir. 1983).
Following the remand, the parties agreed to a settlement and consent decree, which was subsequently approved by Judge Green in a Memorandum and Order dated March 23, 1984. On October 15, 1984, a group of class members, including Mr. Lewis, filed a motion pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 60(b) (1) (3) to vacate and set aside the settlement and consent decree. The court denied the motion on December 12, 1984. No appeal was taken from this order. Seven months later, the plaintiff filed the present action.
The three motions to dismiss pending before the Court encompass all of the defendants. Upon consideration of the record, the Court determines that a hearing is not necessary for disposition of the motions. Local Rule 1-9(g).
Motions to dismiss pro se civil rights actions are not favored by the courts. The Supreme Court has held that a prisoner's pro se complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the prisoner can prove no set facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 66 L. Ed. 2d 163, 101 S. Ct. 173 (1980). Nevertheless, dismissal may be appropriate for those claims simply without arguable merit both in law and fact. See Taylor v. Gibson, 529 F.2d 709 (5th Cir. 1976). All but one of the claims contained in the complaint are wholly without merit, and, for the reasons set forth below, must be dismissed.
A. 42 U.S.C. Section 1985(2)
The plaintiff's first claim is founded upon 42 U.S.C. § 1985(2), the Federal Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice Act. Specifically, the plaintiff relies on clause two of that section: