United States District Court, District of Columbia
RANDOLPH D. MOSS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Larry Klayman, proceeding pro se, brings this action
against the District of Columbia Bar and its president,
Esther Lim; the Office of Disciplinary Counsel
(“ODC”), which serves as the chief prosecutor for
attorney disciplinary matters; and four of its members:
Hamilton Fox, Elizabeth Herman, H. Clay Smith, III, and Julia
Porter. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have violated the
common law and the U.S. Constitution by pursuing charges
against him for attorney misconduct arising from his efforts
to appear pro hac vice as counsel for Cliven Bundy,
a criminal defendant, before the U.S. District Court for the
District of Nevada. This is not Plaintiff's first lawsuit
challenging the lawfulness of pending disciplinary
proceedings against him. In Klayman v. Fox, No.
18-cv-1579 (D.D.C. Jul. 3, 2018), Plaintiff accused many of
the same defendants of conspiring to disbar him (or to force
him to resign from the Bar) because of his political
affiliation, conservative advocacy, and gender. After the ODC
brought disciplinary charges against him relating to the
Bundy case on August 21, 2018, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit,
seeking to enjoin the pending disciplinary proceedings
against him and seeking damages in excess of $75, 000. Dkt. 1
at 21 (Compl. Prayer). This time, in addition to suing the
ODC and its staff, he also sues the D.C. Bar and its
matter is now before the Court on Defendants' motion to
dismiss. Dkt. 7. The Court will, for the same reasons set
forth in Klayman v. Fox, No. 18-cv-1579, slip op.
(D.D.C. June 5, 2019) (“Klayman I”),
grant the motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint against
the ODC and its staff based on Younger abstention,
the non sui juris status of the ODC, and absolute
judicial immunity, and will dismiss Plaintiff's claims
against the D.C. Bar and Lim for failure to state a claim.
The Court will also grant Plaintiff's motion for leave to
file a surreply. Dkt. 16.
the relevant background is detailed in Klayman I,
No. 18-cv-1579, slip op. at 1- 13, so the Court will only
briefly summarize the relevant facts here. In short,
Plaintiff, a self-described conservative activist, has been a
member of the D.C. Bar since 1980. Id. at 4. He is
currently the subject of three disciplinary proceedings under
the auspices of the D.C. Court of Appeals. The first, based
on his representation of three Judicial Watch employees
(“Judicial Watch charges”), is awaiting a final
decision from the D.C. Court of Appeals. Id. at 4-5.
The second, based on his representation of Elham Sataki
(“Sataki charges”), is pending before the Board
of Professional Responsibility (“the Board”).
Id. at 7. The third, based on his attempt to gain
admission pro hac vice to appear before the U.S.
District Court for the District of Nevada on behalf of Cliven
Bundy (“Bundy charges”), has been referred to a
Hearing Committee. See Dkt. 7-2 at 55-71 (Ex. 1)
(Specification of Charges); see also D.C. Bar R. XI
§ 5(c)(1) (formal charges are first referred to a
3, 2018, Plaintiff filed his first lawsuit, Klayman
I, No. 18-cv-1579, alleging that Defendants were
“pil[ing] on” baseless misconduct charges against
him because of “[his] political beliefs, public
activism, and gender, ” Dkt. 10 at 2, 10-11 (Amd.
Compl. ¶¶ 1, 47), Klayman I, No.
18-cv-1579 (D.D.C.). At the time, the ODC had yet to charge
him in connection with his pro hac vice application
before the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.
Nevertheless, Plaintiff's amended complaint alleged that
the Judicial Watch charges, the Sataki charges, and the
then-impending Bundy charges were all part of Defendants'
“conspiracy” to bankrupt and to disbar him.
See Id. at 2, 10-11 (Amd. Compl. ¶¶ 1,
47). After the ODC formally instituted the Bundy charges on
August 21, 2018, see Dkt. 7-2 (Ex. 1) (Specification
of Charges), Plaintiff filed this lawsuit, see Dkt.
Plaintiff could have sought leave to file a second amended
complaint in Klayman I, No. 18-cv-1579, based on the
Bundy charges, he instead filed this separate case, alleging:
This instant action is based upon the conduct of Defendants
concerning the Bundy Complaint, wherein the Individual Bar
Counsel Defendants and ODC initiated a proceeding before the
Board of Professional Responsibility-by fraudulently inducing
a member of the Board to sign off-when they were on notice
that there are pending appellate proceedings before the
Supreme Court and even the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Dkt. 1 at 6 (Compl. ¶ 21). The complaint also references
both the Judicial Watch and Sataki charges. See,
e.g., id. at 10 (Compl. ¶ 46)
(“These three complaints are without merit, . . . and
have been initiated against Mr. Klayman by the Individual Bar
Counsel Defendants and ODC for the purpose of removing Mr.
Klayman from the practice of law in order to, in effect,
silence his public interest advocacy and work.”);
id. (Compl. ¶ 48) (“Defendants believe
that they can ‘pile on' by filing a new case or
cases before [the Board], . . . effectively disbarring
complaint in this case copies, verbatim, much of his amended
complaint in Klayman I, No. 18-cv-1579, and he
alleges the same causes of action against the same defendants
with only three differences. First, the complaint in
this case addresses the Bundy matter in far greater detail.
For instance, the complaint alleges that Defendants
“rushed to file the Bundy Complaint” before
Plaintiff's petitions for writs of mandamus before the
Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit had “reached any
type of final resolution.” Id. at 9 (Compl.
¶¶ 37- 39). He also alleges that “Defendants
engaged in further illegalities by causing and furthering the
publication of the filing of the Specification of Charges in
the Bundy Complaint through the website Law360, ”
id. (Compl. ¶ 41), in an attempt “to
unethically communicate with the appellate courts to attempt
to bias and prejudice them while they are deliberating on
[his] pending appeals, ” id. (Compl. ¶
42). Second, Plaintiff adds a fraud claim against
Defendants, alleging that they “induced a member of the
Board to sign off on the [Bundy] Specification of
Charges” by “with[holding] . . . material
information”-namely, that “there were pending
appeals to the Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit”
challenging the denials of his petitions for writs of
mandamus. Id. at 20 (Compl. ¶¶ 102-03).
Third, Plaintiff has added the D.C. Bar and Lim as defendants
in this case. Id. at 2 (Compl. ¶ 1). The relief
Plaintiff seeks, however, remains the same: “actual,
compensatory, and punitive damages . . . in an amount no less
than $75, 000 . . . as well as preliminary and permanent
injunctive relief” enjoining the disciplinary
proceedings against him. Id. at 21 (Compl. Prayer).
November 1, 2018, Defendants moved to dismiss all of
Plaintiff's claims. Dkt. 7. That motion, and
Plaintiff's motion for leave to file a surreply, Dkt. 16,
are now fully briefed.
move to dismiss the complaint on five grounds: (1)
Plaintiff's complaint violates the prudential rule
against claim-splitting, Dkt. 7 at 12-13; (2)
Younger abstention bars Plaintiff's claims for
injunctive relief, id. at 13; (3) absolute immunity
shields the individual ODC members from suit, id. at
13-14; (4) the ODC is not subject to suit, id. at
14; and (5) Plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim
for relief, id. at 15. Because the allegations and
legal claims in this case mirror those in Klayman I,
No. 18-cv-1579, the Court will dismiss the claims against the
ODC and its staff on the same grounds is relied on in
Klayman I: Younger abstention, the fact that the ODC
is non sui juris, and absolute immunity. The Court
will dismiss Plaintiff's claims against the D.C. Bar and
Lim for failure to state a claim.