United States District Court, District of Columbia
ROBERT A. MCNEIL, et al., Plaintiffs,
G. MICHAEL HARVEY, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO
ALTER JUDGMENT; DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTIONS TO STRIKE;
DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR ORDER DIRECTING PLAINTIFFS
TO COMPLY WITH FED. R. CIV. P. RULE 5(B)(1)
RUDOLPH CONTRERAS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
in this case brought suit against the federal judges who
dismissed multiple prior cases in which Plaintiffs had
alleged the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) was
engaged in a tax falsification program. The Court dismissed
Plaintiffs' claims for lack of Article III standing, and
Plaintiffs have now filed a motion pursuant to Rule 59(e) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure seeking to alter or
amend the Court's judgment. Plaintiffs also renew a
motion to strike all filings by Defendants, based on
allegedly improper conduct by the attorney representing them.
Defendants separately move for an order directing Plaintiffs
to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 5(b)(1). Because Plaintiffs
seek to reargue points this Court has already decided, most
of which were immaterial in the decision to dismiss the case
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the Court denies the
motion to alter the judgment. The Court accordingly denies as
moot all remaining pending motions.
Court has previously described the facts of this case,
see McNeil v. Harvey, No. 17-1720, 2018 WL 4623571,
at *1 (D.D.C. Sept. 26, 2018), and confines its recital here
to the most relevant facts. Plaintiffs previously filed suits
against the IRS and Department of Justice
(“DOJ”), alleging a conspiracy to falsify tax
records to wrongfully fine and incarcerate them. See
generally Compl., ECF No. 1. Each of Plaintiffs' ten
lawsuits were dismissed as barred by the Anti-Injunction Act.
McNeil, 2018 WL 4623571, at *2.
then sued Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey and District
Court judges Dale A. Drozd, Christopher Cooper, and Amy
Berman Jackson (“Defendants”),  the judges who
dismissed Plaintiffs' cases. Id. DOJ appeared
and purported to represent Defendants in the matter.
Defs.' Notice of Appearance at 1, ECF No. 19.
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing, inter
alia, that Plaintiffs lacked standing and that the Court
accordingly lacked subject matter jurisdiction over their
claim. McNeil, 2018 WL 4623571, at *3.
Plaintiffs then filed a motion to strike Defendants'
motion to dismiss from the record. Pls.' Mot. Strike
Filing at 1, ECF No. 37. Plaintiffs claimed that because they
had sued each judge in his or her personal capacity,
Defendants were not entitled to legal representation by DOJ.
Id. at 4-5. In response to Defendants' motion to
dismiss, Plaintiffs argued that Defendants were not entitled
to judicial immunity and that this Court could redress the
wrongful dismissal of their earlier cases by granting
declaratory relief, which would “give Plaintiffs
standing to re-file [their] cases, and thus eventually, [t]o
finally secure access to adequate, meaningful and effective
judicial relief.” Pls.' Opp'n Mot. Dismiss at
5, ECF No. 27.
September 26, 2018, the Court issued an opinion resolving
these issues and dismissing Plaintiffs' case.
McNeil, 2018 WL 4623571, at *8. The Court found that
“the declaratory judgment Plaintiffs seek would not
void or recognize as void Defendants' orders” and
therefore would not redress Plaintiffs' claimed injury.
Id. at 5. Because it accordingly found that
Plaintiffs lacked standing to bring their claims, the Court
dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Id. And although neither party addressed whether
judicial immunity is available in a declaratory relief
action, the Court separately raised the issue in a footnote,
noting that Plaintiffs' claims were likely barred
independently of standing because “judges acting in
their judicial capacity, as here, are likely to be absolutely
immune from actions for equitable relief under
Bivens.” Id. at 3 n.2.
October 24, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a motion to alter the
September 26, 2018 judgment. First, Plaintiffs argue that the
Court failed to “accept, as true, Plaintiffs'
Complaint allegations.” Pls.' Mot. Alter J. at 5,
ECF No. 45. Second, they argue that the Defendants'
previous rulings on Plaintiffs' cases are not binding
because they went beyond issues raised by Plaintiffs, and
therefore that this Court can redress those judgments.
Id. at 6. Third, Plaintiffs allege that the Court
erred when it suggested that Defendants had judicial
immunity. Id. at 10-13. Fourth, Plaintiffs claim
that Defendants unlawfully obtained DOJ representation after
this Court fabricated a reason for DOJ to get involved in the
case. Id. at 16-17. Fifth, Plaintiffs assert that
their claims have not been adjudicated and that they have no
meaningful appellate relief. Id. at 11, 14, 17. And
sixth, Plaintiffs ask the Court to take judicial notice of
orders and opinions filed in Ellis v. Jackson, No.
16-2313 (D.D.C.) and Stanley v. Lynch, No. 16-2313
(D.D.C.) on June 19, 2018 and June 20, 2018. Id. at
2. Plaintiffs argue that these filings provide evidence of
“material relevance” for the Court to consider in
deciding on their motion. Id. at 3.
November 16, 2018, Defendants filed a motion to direct
Plaintiffs to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
5(b)(1). Defs.' Mot. Direct, ECF No. 48. Plaintiffs filed
a motion to strike Defendants' motion. Pls.' Mot.
Strike Mot. Order, ECF No. 49. Defendants filed an opposition
to Plaintiffs' motion to strike, Defs.' Opp'n
Mot. Strike, ECF No. 50, following which Plaintiffs filed a
motion to strike all DOJ filings in this case, Pls.' Mot.
Strike All DOJ Filings, ECF No. 52. Plaintiffs also filed a
motion for a hearing regarding their previous motion to alter
motion under Rule 59(e) is “disfavored and relief from
judgment is granted only when the moving party establishes
extraordinary circumstances.” Niedermeier v. Office
of Baucus, 153 F.Supp.2d 23, 28 (D.D.C. 2001) (citing
Anyanwutaku v. Moore, 151 F.3d 1053, 1057 (D.C. Cir.
1998)); see also Ciralsky v. CIA, 355 F.3d 661, 671
(D.C. Cir. 2004). Granting a Rule 59(e) motion “is
discretionary and [the motion] need not be granted unless the
district court finds that there is an intervening change of
controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the
need to correct a clear error or prevent manifest
injustice.” Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d
1205, 1208 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (internal quotation marks and
citation omitted); Solomon v. Univ. of S. Cal., 255
F.R.D. 303, 304 (D.D.C. 2009).
Rule 59(e) context, “clear error” is “a
very exacting standard, ” Bond v. U.S. Dep't of
Justice, 286 F.R.D. 16, 22 (D.D.C. 2012) (quoting
Lightfoot v. District of Columbia, 355 F.Supp.2d
414, 422 (D.D.C. 2005)), tantamount to a requirement that the
judgment be “dead wrong, ” Lardner v.
FBI, 875 F.Supp.2d 49, 53 (D.D.C. 2012) (quoting
Parts & Elec. Motors, Inc. v. Sterling Elec.,
Inc., 866 F.2d 228, 233 (7th Cir. 1988)).
“Manifest injustice” on the other hand, requires
a demonstration not only of “clear and certain
prejudice to the moving party, but also a result that is
fundamentally unfair in light of governing law.”
Slate v. Am. Broad. Cos., 12 F.Supp.3d 30, 35-36
(D.D.C. 2013). Newly available evidence is “evidence
that is newly discovered or previously unavailable despite
the exercise of due diligence.” Niedermeier,
153 F.Supp.2d at 29. Newly available evidence excludes
“relevant facts . . . known by the party prior to the
entry of judgment [where] the party failed to present those
facts.” Id. (collecting cases); see also
S.E.C. v. Bilzerian, 729 F.Supp.2d 9, 15 (D.D.C. 2010)
(denying movant Rule 59 relief because “[t]he evidence
[the movant] alludes to is not newly available; it is simply
newly received [by the court]”).
59(e) affords no opportunity for the parties to
“relitigate old matters, or to raise arguments or
present evidence that could have been raised prior to the
entry of judgment.” Niedermeier, 153 F.Supp.2d
at 28 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted);
see also New York v. United States,880 F.Supp. 37,
38 (D.D.C. 1995) (“A Rule 59(e) motion to reconsider is
not simply an opportunity to reargue facts and theories upon
which a court has already ruled.”). The party seeking
reconsideration bears the ...