The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAUNDRA ARMSTRONG, District Judge
In accordance with the Court's Order denying Plaintiff's Motion
for Judgment on the Pleadings and granting Defendants'
Cross-Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT final judgment is entered in favor of
Defendants on all of Plaintiff's causes of action. All matters
calendared in this action are VACATED. The Clerk shall close the
file and terminate any pending matters.
[Docket Nos. 264, 276, 285].
This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings [Docket No. 264] and Defendants'
Cross-Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Docket No. 276].
Having read and considered the arguments presented by the parties
in the papers submitted to the Court, and having heard the
argument of Plaintiff and Defendants' counsel at the June 28,
2005 hearing, the Court hereby DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings and GRANTS Defendants' Cross-Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings.
A. Procedural Background.
On March 27, 2000, Plaintiff Burton Wolfe ("Plaintiff"), filed
a Complaint, in propria persona, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging the constitutionality of
California's Vexatious Litigant Statute. He named as defendants:
(1) Justice Gary Strankman, Chief Justice Ronald George, Deborah
Silva, the Judicial Council of California, and State of
California (collectively known as the "State Defendants"); and
(2) Judge Alfred Chiantelli, Judge David Garcia, and Judge Ronald
Quidachay (collectively known as the "Judge Defendants").
On March 29, 2002, this Court dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine after finding that Plaintiff's action appeared to be a
de facto appeal of prior state court decisions. See Rooker v.
Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 415-16 (1923); District of
Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482-86
(1983). The Court also dismissed the State Defendants and the
Judge Defendants from the lawsuit. Plaintiff subsequently
On December 14, 2004, the Ninth Circuit held that this Court
erred by dismissing the suit under Rooker-Feldman. See Wolfe v.
Strankman, 392 F.3d 358, 364 (9th Cir. 2004). Specifically, the
Ninth Circuit found that Plaintiff's references to his
involvement in prior state court actions went to show that
Plaintiff had standing, and were not de facto appeals from the
decisions in those prior actions. Id. However, the Ninth
Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the State of California and the
Judicial Council of California on the grounds that they are not
"persons" subject to suit under § 1983. Id. at 361. The court
further affirmed the dismissal of the Judge Defendants, Justice
Strankman, and Chief Justice George in his judicial capacity.
Id. Finally, the court reversed the dismissal of Chief Justice
George, in his administrative capacity, and Ms. Silva, and
remanded to this Court for further proceedings. Id.
On February 8, 2005, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint,
in propria persona, on behalf of himself and on behalf of all
persons appearing in the courts of California without
representation, for Declaratory and Prospective Injunctive
Relief. In the First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that
California's Vexatious Litigant Statute, California Code of Civil
Procedure §§ 391 et seq., is unconstitutional. On February 23,
2005, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings or,
in the alternative, for Declaratory Judgment. On May 6, 2005,
Defendants filed a Cross-Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. B. Statutory Background.
California's Vexatious Litigant Statute (the "statute") is
codified at California Code of Civil Procedure §§ 391 et seq.
The statute defines a vexatious litigant as a person who:
(1) In the immediately preceding seven-year period
has commenced, prosecuted, or maintained in propria
persona at least five litigations other than in small
claims court that have been (i) finally determined
adversely to the person or (ii) unjustifiably
permitted to remain pending at least two years
without having been brought to trial or hearing.
(2) After a litigation has been finally determined
against the person, repeatedly relitigates or
attempts to relitigate, in propria persona, either
(i) the validity of the determination against the
same defendant or defendants as to whom the
litigation was finally determined or (ii) the cause
of action, claim, controversy, or any of the issues
of fact or law, determined or concluded by the final
determination against the same defendant or
defendants as to whom the litigation was finally
(3) In any litigation while acting in propria
persona, repeatedly files unmeritorious motions,
pleadings, or other papers, conducts unnecessary
discovery, or engages in other tactics that are
frivolous or solely intended to cause unnecessary
(4) Has previously been declared to be a vexatious
litigant by any state or federal court of record in
any action or proceeding based upon the same or
substantially similar facts, transaction, or
Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 391(b)(1)-(4). Pursuant to the statute,
a defendant may move the court to require the pro se plaintiff to
provide security if the defendant can make a showing that the
plaintiff is a vexatious litigant and that there is not a
reasonable probability that the plaintiff will prevail in the
litigation against the moving party. See Cal. Code of Civ.
Proc. § 391.1. Upon making the requisite findings, the court may
then order the plaintiff to provide a security*fn1
compensates for the reasonable costs and attorney fees of
defending the suit. Cal. Code Civ. Proc. §§ 391.1, 391.3. If the
plaintiff fails to post the security, the action may be
dismissed. Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 391.4.
Once a plaintiff has been declared a "vexatious litigant"
within the meaning of the statute, the court may also enter an
order prohibiting that plaintiff from filing new state court
litigation absent leave of the presiding judge where the
litigation is proposed to be filed. Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 391.7.
This order is referred to as a "prefiling" order. Cal. Code Civ. Proc.
§ 391.7. After the prefiling order is issued, the presiding judge
shall permit the filing of further litigation if it appears that
the litigation has merit and has not been filed for the purposes
of harassment or delay. Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. § 391.7(b).
A. Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), any party may move
for judgment on the pleadings at any time after the pleadings are
closed but within such time as not to delay the trial.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). "For the purposes of the motion, the allegations
of the non-moving party must be accepted as true, while the
allegations of the moving party which have been denied are
assumed to be false." Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner
and Co., Inc., 896 F.2d 1542, 1550 (9th Cir. 1990). Judgment on
the pleadings is proper when the moving party clearly establishes
on the face of the pleadings that no material issue of fact
remains to be resolved and that it is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Id. When brought by the defendant, a motion for
judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(c) is a "means to challenge the sufficiency of the complaint
after an answer has been filed." New.Net, Inc. v. Lavasoft,
356 F.Supp.2d 1090, 1115 (C.D. Cal. 2004). A motion for judgment on
the pleadings is therefore similar to a motion to dismiss. Id.
When the district court must go beyond the pleadings to resolve
an issue on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the
proceeding is properly treated as a motion for summary judgment.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c); Bonilla v. Oakland Scavenger Co.,
697 F.2d 1297, 1301 (9th Cir. 1982).
28 U.S.C. § 2201 provides that "[i]n a case of actual
controversy within its jurisdiction . . . any court of the
United States, upon the filing of an appropriate pleading, may declare
the rights and other legal relations of any interested party
seeking such declaration, whether or not further relief is or
could be sought. Any such declaration shall have the force and
effect of a final judgment or decree and shall be reviewable as
such." 28 U.S.C. § 2201.
Declaratory judgment is appropriate where, as here, an
injunction is not available because there are no pending state
court proceedings. Steffel v. Thompson, 415 U.S. 452, 463
(1974) ("When no state prosecution is pending and the only
question is whether declaratory relief is appropriate, the congressional scheme that makes the federal courts the primary
guardians of constitutional rights, and the express congressional
authorization of declaratory relief, afforded because it is a
less harsh and abrasive remedy than the injunction, become the
factors of primary significance.")
A. Plaintiff's and Defendants' Cross-Motions for Judgment on
In his Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, Plaintiff seeks a
declaratory judgment from this Court that California's Vexatious
Litigant Statute, California Code Civil Procedure §§ 391 et
seq., is unconstitutional.*fn2 Plaintiff asserts the
following bases for a finding that the Vexatious Litigant Statute
is unconstitutional: (1) it violates the First Amendment; (2) it
is overbroad; (2) it is vague; (3) it violates the due process
clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments;*fn3 (4) it
violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment;
(5) it violates the double jeopardy clause of the
Fifth Amendment; (6) it violates the excessive fines clause of the
Eighth Amendment; (7) it is an impermissible ex post facto law or
bill of attainder; and (8) it generally conflicts with federal
law and violates 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants, on the other hand,
move for judgment on the pleadings on the basis that ...