United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
TRANSFER VENUE PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1404(A)
RUDOLPH CONTRERAS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Plaintiff, Timothy Rote, has brought a complaint against
Defendants Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability of
the Judicial Conference of the United States, United States
Department of Justice, Oregon Judicial Department, Oregon
State Bar, Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund,
Colorado Judicial Department, the Hon. Robert Kugler,
Arbitrator William B. Crow, the Hon. Paul Papak, the Hon.
Elizabeth Weishaupl, the Hon. Robert Herndon, the Hon. James
Egan, Billy Williams, Carol Bernick, the Hon. Susie L. Norby,
and John Does (1-5). The Complaint, which seeks damages as
well as declaratory and injunctive relief, alleges:
violations of Mr. Rote's First, Fifth, and Fourteenth
Amendment rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983; a
conspiracy to violate his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. §
1985; and, violations of his rights conferred by Article I,
§§ 8, 10, and 20 of the Oregon Constitution.
Federal Defendants, Committee on Judicial Conduct and
Disability of the Judicial Conference of the United States
(“Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability”),
United States Department of Justice, the Honorable Robert B.
Kugler, the Honorable Paul J. Papak, and Billy J. Williams,
have moved, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), to transfer
this case to the District of Oregon. Mr. Rote opposes this
motion on the grounds that private and public interest
factors weigh against transferring this case. For the reasons
discussed below, because both the public and private
interests favor transfer to the District of Oregon, the Court
grants the Defendants' motion to transfer the case.
Rote is a resident of Oregon. Compl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 1.
Defendants Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability and
Department of Justice are United States entities.
Id. ¶¶ 5-6. Defendants Oregon Judicial
Department and Oregon State Bar are Oregon state government
entities. Id. ¶¶ 7-8. Defendant Oregon
State Bar Professional Liability Fund is an entity
functioning under the Oregon State Bar. Id. ¶
9. Defendant William B. Crow, at the relevant time period of
the allegation, was an arbitrator in Oregon and Chair of the
Disciplinary Board of the Oregon State Bar Association.
Id. ¶ 12. Defendant the Hon. Paul J. Papak is a
federal magistrate judge of the U.S. District Court for the
District of Oregon. Id. ¶ 13. Defendant the
Hon. Robert Herndon is the Chief Judge of the Clackamas
County Circuit Court of Oregon. Id. ¶ 15.
Defendant the Hon. James C. Egan is the Chief Judge of the
Oregon Court of Appeals. Id. ¶ 16. Defendant
Billy J. Williams is the United States Attorney for the
District of Oregon. Id. ¶ 17. Defendant the
Hon. Susie. L. Norby is a judge on the Clackamas County
Circuit Court of Oregon. Id. ¶ 18. Defendant
Carol Bernick is the Chief Executive Officer of the Oregon
State Bar Professional Liability Fund. Id. ¶
19. Defendant Colorado Judicial Department is a Colorado
state government entity. Id. ¶ 10. Defendant
the Hon. Elizabeth A. Weishaupl is a district court judge for
the 18th Judicial District of Colorado located in Arapahoe
County, Colorado. Id. ¶ 14. Defendant the Hon.
Robert B. Kugler is a U.S. District Court Judge for the
District of New Jersey. Id. ¶ 11.
Rote alleges twenty-eight “acts” committed by
various defendants in this action that form the basis for his
claims. See Id. These “acts” relate to
judicial proceedings before the Hon. Robert E. Jones in the
U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon in 2001
regarding a business dispute, id. ¶¶
20-24; a complaint that Mr. Rote's former employee filed
with the Oregon Department of Justice and the Lane County
District Attorney in 2003, id. ¶¶ 26-35;
judicial proceedings before the Hon. Robert Kugler in a U.S.
District Court in New Jersey in 2004, also relating to Mr.
Rote's former employee, id. ¶¶ 36-39;
criminal contempt of court hearings in New Jersey stemming
from the 2014 New Jersey litigation, id.
¶¶ 40-44; arbitration proceedings in Oregon
beginning in 2006 involving the same employee who initiated
the New Jersey litigation, id. ¶¶ 46-54;
ethics complaints filed with the Oregon State Bar
Association, id. ¶¶ 55- 56; judicial
proceedings before Federal Magistrate Judge Paul J. Papak in
the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon in 2012
regarding a motion to vacate the award resulting from the
2006 arbitration, id. ¶¶ 57-60; judicial
proceedings before Judge Papak in 2017 regarding a motion to
set aside the arbitration judgment, id. ¶¶
61-62; judicial proceedings before the Hon. Elizabeth
Weishaupl in Colorado from 2009 through 2014 regarding a
business dispute between Mr. Rote's company and another
entity, id. ¶¶ 63-66; judicial proceedings
before the Hon. Marco Hernandez in the U.S. District Court in
Oregon regarding a dispute between Mr. Rote and a former
employee, id. ¶¶ 67-73, 86-87, 91-92,
94-99; judicial proceedings before the Hon. Robert Herndon in
Clackamas County, Oregon in 2016 regarding a defamation
claim, id. ¶¶ 74- 79, 83; an appeal to the
Oregon Court of Appeals resulting from the 2016 Clackamas
County proceedings, id. ¶¶ 79-80, 84-85;
an ethics complaint filed with the Oregon State Bar regarding
an alleged violation of certain provisions of the Oregon
Rules of Professional Conduct, id. ¶ 82;
judicial proceedings in Clackamas County, Oregon in 2018
regarding Mr. Rote's claims of defamation and intentional
infliction of emotional distress, id. ¶¶
88, 93; judicial proceedings before the Hon. Susie L. Norby
in Oregon regarding a “Motion to Set Aside the Judgment
for legal fees in the Clackamas anti-SLAPP Motion, ”
id. ¶ 90; and, unspecified litigation before
the Hon. Marco Hernandez in the U.S. District Court in
Oregon, id. ¶ 100.
of the Complaint alleges that Defendants violated Mr.
Rote's First Amendment rights and seeks relief under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Id. ¶¶ 101-111. Count
II of the Complaint alleges that Defendants violated Mr.
Rote's due process rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth
Amendments and seeks relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Id. ¶¶ 112-124. Count III of the
Complaint, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1985, alleges
Defendants conspired to violate Mr. Rote's civil rights.
Id. ¶¶ 125-139. Count IV seeks declaratory
and equitable relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2201.
Id. ¶¶ 140-144. Mr. Rote requests an award
in excess of $10 million in economic damages and $50 million
in noneconomic damages, in addition to equitable relief,
punitive damages, attorneys' fees, and litigation
expenses. Id. at 29-30.
Defendants have moved, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a),
to transfer this case to the District of Oregon. Federal
Defs.' Mot. to Transfer, ECF No. 13. The question before
the Court, therefore, is whether the circumstances of this
case warrant transfer. Because both the public and private
interests favor transfer to the District of Oregon, the Court
finds that transfer is appropriate and grants the
the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of
justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to
any other district or division where it might have been
brought....” 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). Section 1404(a)
vests “discretion in the district court to adjudicate
motions to transfer according to an individualized,
case-by-case consideration of convenience and
fairness.” Stewart Org., Inc. v. Ricoh Corp.,
487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988) (internal citations omitted). The
burden is on the moving party to establish that transfer
under § 1404(a) is proper. Montgomery v. STG
Int'l, Inc., 532 F.Supp.2d 29, 32 (D.D.C. 2008).
the defendant must make two showings to justify transfer.
First, the defendant must establish that the plaintiff
originally could have brought the action in the proposed
transferee district. Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S.
612, 616 (1964). Second, the defendant must demonstrate that
considerations of convenience and the interest of justice
weigh in favor of transfer to that district. Trout
Unlimited v. Dep't of Agric., 944 F.Supp. 13, 16
(D.D.C. 1996). In evaluating a motion to transfer, a court
may weigh several private- and public-interest factors.
Sheffer v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., 873 F.Supp.2d 371,
375 (D.D.C. 2012) (citing Trout Unlimited, 944
F.Supp. at 16). The private-interest considerations include:
(1) the plaintiff's choice of forum; (2) the
defendant's preferred forum; (3) the location where the
claim arose; (4) the convenience of the parties; (5) the
convenience of the witnesses; and (6) ease of access to
sources of proof. Sheffer, 873 F.Supp.2d at 375;
Montgomery, 532 F.Supp.2d 29, 32 (D.D.C. 2008).
“Public-interest considerations include: (1) the
transferee's familiarity with the governing law; (2) the
relative congestion of the courts of the transferor and
potential transferee; and (3) the local interest in deciding
local controversies at home.” Onyeneho v. Allstate
Ins. Co., 466 F.Supp.2d 1, 3 (D.D.C. 2006); see also
Airport Working Group of Orange County, Inc. v. U.S.
Dep't of Def., 226 F.Supp.2d 227, 229 (D.D.C. 2002).
“If the balance of private and public interests favors
a transfer of venue, then a court may order a
transfer.” Sheffer, 873 F.Supp.2d at 375
(citing Montgomery, 532 F.Supp.2d at 32).
The Court Grants the Motion to Transfer Venue to the District
this case may have been brought in the District of Oregon,
and that district is the more convenient forum considering
both the public and private interests at stake, ...