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Anderson v. Holder

March 5, 2010

GRANT ANDERSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ERIC HOLDER ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard W. Roberts United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Pro se plaintiff Grant Anderson, a District of Columbia parolee, brought this action against federal and District of Columbia government defendants*fn1 alleging that the parole condition requiring his registration as a sex offender under the District's Sex Offender Registration Act of 1999 ("SORA"), D.C. Code §§ 22-4001-4017, violates the Eighth Amendment, the ex post facto and equal protection clauses of the Constitution, and the District's Human Rights Act, Compl ¶¶ 1, 16, and that his alleged participation in compelled "polygraph examinations and psycho-therapy sessions" under the "Sexual Registration program" violates the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination. Id. ¶¶ 11-12. He seeks an injunction and a declaratory judgment that these violations stem from defendants' practices, policies or customs. Id. at 5.

The District of Columbia defendants move to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim [Dkt. No. 7]. The federal defendants move to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) [Dkt. No. 16]. Based on the parties' submissions, the motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was convicted on September 7, 1988, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for assault with intent to commit rape while armed, two counts of burglary while armed, and one count of resisting a police officer with a dangerous weapon. Anderson v. D.C. Public Defender Serv., 881 F. Supp. 663, 663 (D.D.C. 1995). He was sentenced on September 13, 1988, to life imprisonment, Fed. Def.'s Mot., Ex. B, and was released on January 23, 2009, to parole supervision for life.*fn2 Id., Ex. C. As a condition of his release to parole, plaintiff agreed--as evidenced by his initials, hand-written statement of his understanding and signature--to comply with the law "to report and register as a sex offender." Id. (Certificate of Parole at 2 ¶ 16).

Plaintiff then filed this action alleging that he "has been forced to participate in the passage of a prospective law . . . or face the prospect of having [his] parole revoked, thus depriving [him] of his liberty interest or freedom." Compl. ¶ 10. He also alleges that his "answers and responses to polygraph tests may be used to negate [his] claims of innocence while seeking federal habeas corpus proceedings," id. ¶ 12, and that he is being subjected to "a greater punishment . . . than ordered and promulgated by D.C. Superior Court in [his criminal case]." Id. ¶ 16.

II. DISCUSSION

1. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

The District of Columbia defendants' Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss argues that "plaintiff lacks standing because the District of Columbia does not control his parole conditions and is therefore not a proper defendant." Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Defendant District of Columbia's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint at 6. The argument conflates two materially different concepts. There is no question that plaintiff is subjected to the locally enacted SORA; thus, he has legal standing to challenge the statute's enforcement against him. See Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 751 (1984) ("A plaintiff must allege personal injury fairly traceable to the defendant's allegedly unlawful conduct and likely to be redressed by the requested relief.") (citation omitted); Baker v. Carr, 396 U.S. 186, 204 (1962) (in determining standing, "the gist of the question" is whether plaintiff has "alleged such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions"). Moreover, the SORA is "a codified law of the District [that] qualifies as a practice, policy, or custom of the District of Columbia" for which the District " 'can be sued directly under [42 U.S.C.] § 1983 for monetary, declaratory, or injunctive relief. . . .' "*fn3

Washington v. Fenty, 611 F. Supp. 2d 45, 48 (D.D.C. 2009) (quoting Monell v. Dep't of Social Svcs., 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978)). Whether the District is a proper defendant to redress plaintiff's claim, then, does not affect plaintiff's standing to sue but rather is a question for consideration under Rule 12(b)(6). The District's motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) therefore will be denied.

2. Failure to State a Claim

"To survive a motion to dismiss [under Rule 12(b)(6)], a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, acceptable as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.' . . . [A plaintiff must plead] factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). "[A] court 'must treat the complaint's factual allegations as true . . . and must grant plaintiff the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged.' " Holy Land Found. for Relief & Dev. v. Ashcroft, 333 F.3d 156, 165 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (quoting Sparrow v. United Air Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1113 (D.C. Cir. 2000)). A court need not "accept inferences drawn by plaintiffs if such inferences are unsupported by the facts set out in the complaint. Nor must [a] court accept legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations." Kowal v. MCI Communications Corp., 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994). In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, "a court may consider 'only the facts alleged in the complaint, any documents either attached to or incorporated in the complaint and matters of which [a court] may take judicial notice.' " U.S. ex rel. Westrick v. Second Chance Body Armor, Inc., Civil Action No. 04-280 (RWR), 2010 WL 623466, at *2 (D.D.C., Feb. 23, 2010 ) (quoting Trudeau v. FTC, 456 F.3d 178, 183 (D.C. Cir. 2006)).

A. Equal Protection Claim

Because the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause applies only to laws enacted by state governments, the Supreme Court has found the Fifth Amendment's due process clause to encompass equal protection claims against the District of Columbia. Bolling v. Sharpe, 347 U.S. 497, 498-500 (1954). Such a claim "does not require that all persons everywhere be treated alike. Instead, it imposes the rather more modest requirement that government not treat similarly situated individuals differently without a rational basis." Noble v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 194. F.3d 152, 154 (D.C. Cir. 1999). To succeed on an equal protection claim, plaintiff must show that "[he] has been intentionally treated differently from others similarly situated and that there is no rational basis for the difference in treatment." Vill. of Willowbrook v. Olech, 528 U.S. 562, 564 (2000) (citations omitted). "Where the claim is invidious discrimination in contravention of the . . . Fifth Amendment[], . . . the plaintiff must plead and prove that the defendant acted ...


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