The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina, United States District Judge
GRANTING THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS;
DENYING THE PLAINTIFF'S CONTINGENT MOTION TO AMEND HIS COMPLAINT
The pro se*fn1 plaintiff, Ronald T. Edwards, brings this Bivens*fn2
action for damages against three federal judges in their official and
individual capacities. The defendants are United States Court of Appeals
Judges James H. Wilkinson, III, and Diana G. Motz and United States
District Judge Samuel G. Wilson. Mr. Edwards claims that the defendants,
sitting as a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit, violated his constitutional rights by affirming a trial court
judgment against him. This matter is currently before the court on the
defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(1), (4), and (6) and the plaintiff's "contingent" motion for leave
to amend his complaint. For the reasons that follow, the court grants the
defendants' motion to dismiss and denies the plaintiff's contingent
motion for leave to amend his complaint.
On the plaintiff's malpractice claim, the district court granted Mr.
Tobin's motion for summary judgment, holding that Mr. Edwards' suit was
an improper collateral attack on the state appellate court's ruling. Id.
¶ 30, Ex. 6. The plaintiff appealed to the Fourth Circuit. Id.
¶ 31, Ex. 6. Sitting as a panel, the defendants affirmed the district
court's judgment on March 19, 1998.*fn3 Id. On October 5, 1998, the
Supreme Court denied the plaintiff's petition for a writ of certiorari.
Id. ¶ 31; Edwards v. Tobin, 525 U.S. 906 (1998).
The plaintiff pleads that the defendants knew, or should have known,
that the district court and the state appellate court based their rulings
on a falsified record. Compl. ¶ 32. The defendants' ruling on the
plaintiff's appeal allegedly deprived the plaintiff of his constitutional
rights "in order to protect a defendant with known organized crime
connections and to protect Maryland authorities from exposure of their
complicity." Pl.'s Opp'n at 2-3. In the instant complaint, Mr. Edwards
alleges violations of the First, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendments,*fn4 that, according to the plaintiff, constitute a Bivens
action. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 4. The plaintiff states that "at all times
relevant to the matters complained of herein" the defendants were acting
within the scope of their employment and in their official capacities.
Id. ¶ 10. Accordingly, the plaintiff seeks relief including: (1)
compensatory damages for the loss of his malpractice claim against Mr.
Tobin in the amount of 23 million dollars; (2) compensatory damages for
emotional distress; and (3) punitive damages. Id. ¶ 57.
A. Legal Standard for a Motion to Dismiss
For a complaint to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, it need
only provide a short and plain statement of the claim and the grounds on
which it rests. FED. R. CIV. P. 8(a)(2); Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41,
47 (1957). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests not whether the
plaintiff will prevail on the merits, but instead whether the plaintiff
has properly stated a claim. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6); Scheuer, 416 U.S.
at 236. The plaintiff need not plead the elements of a prima-facie case
in the complaint. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506 (2002)
(holding that a plaintiff in an employment-discrimination case need not
establish her prima-facie case in the complaint); Sparrow v. United Air
Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1114 (D.C. Cir. 2000). Thus, the court may
dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim only if it is clear that
no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved
with the allegations. Hishon v. King & Spalding,
467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984); Atchinson v. Dist. of Columbia, 73 F.3d 418, 422
(D.C. Cir. 1996). In deciding such a motion, the court must accept all of
the complaint's well-pled factual allegations as true and draw all
reasonable inferences in the nonmovant's favor. Scheuer, 416 U.S. at
The plaintiff's claims fail because judicial immunity protects the
defendants from suit.*fn5 The principle of judicial immunity is
well-established. Tinsley v. Widener, 150 F. Supp.2d 7, 11 (D.D.C. 2001)
(citing Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978); Pierson v. Ray,
386 U.S. 547 (1967); Bradley v. Fisher, 80 U.S. 335 (1871); Randall v.
Brigham, 74 U.S. 523 (1868)). Absolute immunity is necessary for judges
carrying out their judicial functions because judges must "act upon
[their] convictions, without apprehension of personal consequences to
[themselves]." Bradley, 80 U.S. at 347. Appealing to a higher court for
relief is the only judicial procedure available to a litigant who seeks
to challenge the legality of decisions made by a judge in her judicial
capacity. Dacey v. Clapp, 1993 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15815, at *5 (D.D.C.
Oct. 29, 1993). Judicial immunity does not extend to judges'
administrative, legislative, or executive functions, however. Forrester
v. White, 484 U.S. 219, 227 (1988).
The nature of the act and not the identity of the individual determines
whether absolute judicial immunity is applicable. Thus, so long as the
act involves a judicial function, immunity applies regardless of whether
the plaintiff is suing the judge in her individual or official capacity.
Daul v. Meckus, 897 F. Supp. 606, 611 (D.D.C. 1995), aff'd, 107 F.3d 922
(D.C. Cir. 1996) (per curiam); see also Forbush v. Zaleski, 20 Fed.
Appx. 481, 482 (6th Cir. 2001) (applying judicial immunity to a judge sued
in his individual and official capacities for actions within the scope of
his official duties). The acts of assigning a case, ruling on pretrial
matters, and rendering a decision are all within a judge's judicial
capacity. John v. Barron, 897 F.2d 1387, 1391 (7th Cir. 1990), cert.
den'd, 498 U.S. 821 (1990).
Immunity for judicial functions does not apply when judges act in the
clear absence of jurisdiction. Stump, 435 U.S. at 357. This ...