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Montgomery Blair Sibley v. U.S. Supreme Court

May 23, 2011

MONTGOMERY BLAIR SIBLEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
U.S. SUPREME COURT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John D. Bates United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Before the Court are several motions from plaintiff, who seeks declaratory relief and damages from the United States Supreme Court, Justices of the Supreme Court ("Justices"), United States District Court Judge Richard J. Leon ("Judge Leon"), United States District Court Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. ("Judge Kennedy"), Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. ("Attorney General Holder"), the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, Chief Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Eric T. Washington ("Chief Judge Washington"), District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals Clerk Mark Langer ("Clerk Langer"), United States Supreme Court Deputy Clerk Cynthia Rapp ("Deputy Clerk Rapp"), the United States Marshals Service, and two unnamed officers from the United States Marshals Service ("Unnamed Deputy Marshals"). Am. Compl. [Docket Entry 48] at 4-6. Defendants have filed several responses, including a [52] motion to dismiss by federal defendants, a [53] motion to dismiss by Judge Leon and Judge Kennedy and a [60] motion to dismiss by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. For the following reasons, the motions to dismiss will be granted.

Background

Pro se plaintiff Sibley was suspended from the practice of law in Florida for a period of three years on March 7, 2008. Id. at 9. Likewise, on March 11, 2008, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals suspended plaintiff's license to practice law for three years and required plaintiff to sign an affidavit that he was not "practicing law" in the District of Columbia. Id. at 23. Plaintiff alleges that the District of Columbia Court of Appeals attorney disbarrment rules and practices violate a number of his constitutional rights. Plaintiff also alleges that the United States Supreme Court "putatively" suspended him from the practice of law in that Court without ruling on a pending petition he had filed in a previous case before that Court, see id. at 9, and refusing to file a motion that he submitted after his suspension, id. at 10. He was disbarred from practice before the United States Supreme Court on May 17, 2010. Id. at 10-11. Plaintiff continued to file petitions and motions before the Supreme Court on several other matters, and he alleges that Justice Thomas's failure to act on a particular motion for an extension of time to file a petition for writ of certiorari wrongfully precluded plaintiff from seeking review before the Supreme Court in that case. Id. at 11-12. Plaintiff also alleges that the "rules and practices of Defendant United States Supreme Court have violated Plaintiff's fundamental, constitutional and statutory rights in attorney disbarrment proceedings before Defendant United States Supreme Court." Id. at 13.

Plaintiff also sues Judge Leon and Judge Kennedy, who have ruled contrary to plaintiff's desires on this or another of plaintiff's numerous prior cases in this district. See id. at 20, 27. And plaintiff sues the Marshals Service for escorting him to the District Court Clerk's office upon his arrival at the United States Courthouse for the District of Columbia. Id. at 21-22.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

"[I]n passing on a motion to dismiss, whether on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter or for failure to state a cause of action, the allegations of the complaint should be construed favorably to the pleader." Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); see Leatherman v. Tarrant Cty. Narcotics and Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 164 (1993); Phillips

v. Bureau of Prisons, 591 F.2d 966, 968 (D.C. Cir. 1979). Therefore, the factual allegations must be presumed true, and plaintiff must be given every favorable inference that may be drawn from the allegations of fact. Scheuer, 416 U.S. at 236; Sparrow v. United Air Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1113 (D.C. Cir. 2000). However, the Court need not accept as true "a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation," nor inferences that are unsupported by the facts set out in the complaint. Trudeau v. Federal Trade Comm'n, 456 F.3d 178, 193 (D.C. Cir. 2006) (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)).

Under Rule 12(b)(1), the party seeking to invoke the jurisdiction of a federal court --plaintiff here -- bears the burden of establishing that the court has jurisdiction. See US Ecology, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Interior, 231 F.3d 20, 24 (D.C. Cir. 2000); see also Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police v. Ashcroft, 185 F. Supp. 2d 9, 13 (D.D.C. 2001) (a court has an "affirmative obligation to ensure that it is acting within the scope of its jurisdictional authority."); Pitney Bowes, Inc. v. United States Postal Serv., 27 F. Supp. 2d 15, 19 (D.D.C. 1998). "'[P]laintiff's factual allegations in the complaint . . . will bear closer scrutiny in resolving a 12(b)(1) motion' than in resolving a 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim." Grand Lodge, 185 F. Supp. 2d at 13-14 (quoting 5A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1350 (2d ed. 1987)). Additionally, a court may consider material other than the allegations of the complaint in determining whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case, as long as it still accepts the factual allegations in the complaint as true. See Jerome Stevens Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. FDA, 402 F.3d 1249, 1253-54 (D.C. Cir. 2005); EEOC v. St. Francis Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 F.3d 621, 624-25 n.3 (D.C. Cir. 1997); Herbert v. Nat'l Acad. of Scis., 974 F.2d 192, 197 (D.C. Cir.1992).

In reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the Court is mindful that all that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require of a complaint is that it contain "'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)); accord Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam). Although "detailed factual allegations" are not necessary to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, to provide the "grounds" of "entitle[ment] to relief," a plaintiff must furnish "more than labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56; see also Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. ___, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570); Atherton v. District of Columbia Office of the Mayor, 567 F.3d 672, 681 (D.C. Cir. 2009). A complaint is plausible on its face "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949. This amounts to a "two-pronged approach" under which a court first identifies the factual allegations entitled to an assumption of truth and then determines "whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Id. at 1950-51.

DISCUSSION

Federal defendants contend that plaintiff fails to state a claim against the Justices, Deputy Clerk Rapp and Clerk Langer because these parties are entitled to absolute judicial immunity. Fed. Def's Mot. to Dismiss [Docket Entry 52] at 4. Judge Leon and Judge Kennedy move to dismiss on the same grounds. Leon & Kennedy Mot. to Dismiss [Docket Entry 53] at 4-6. Federal defendants also contend that this court lacks jurisdiction over plaintiff's claim against the Marshals Service because plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies. Fed. Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss at 11-13. Defendant District of Columbia Court of Appeals ("DCCA") contends that it is non sui juris. DCCA Mot. to Dismiss [14] at 16-17. Plaintiff disagrees with all these contentions.*fn1 This Court will grant defendants' motions to dismiss and dismiss plaintiff's case in its entirety.

I. Judicial Defendants Entitled to Absolute Judicial Immunity "Judges enjoy absolute judicial immunity from suits for money damages for all actions taken in the judge's judicial capacity, unless these actions are taken in the complete absence of all jurisdiction." Sindram v. Suda, 986 F.2d 1459, 1460 (D.C. Cir. 1993). "A judge will not be deprived of immunity because the action he took was in error, was done maliciously, or was in excess of his authority." Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356-57, 662 (1978) (ruling that an Indiana circuit court judge was not deprived of absolute immunity when he approved a mother's ex parte petition to have her 15-year-old daughter sterilized without her knowledge or consent, because the judge approved this petition in his capacity as circuit court judge of general jurisdiction); see also Sibley v. Breyer, 456 F. Supp. 2d 43, 45 (D.D.C. 2006) ("[T]he doctrine of absolute judicial immunity represents an absolute ...


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