United States District Court, S.D. California
November 23, 2005.
CURTIS RICHMOND, Plaintiff,
JUDGES STEPHEN ROTH, STEPHEN HENRIOD, WILLIAM BARRETT; ATTORNEYS ERIK CHRISTIANSEN, STEPHEN NEWMAN; CITIBANK, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: BARRY MOSKOWITZ, District Judge
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND
On November 17, 2005, Plaintiff Curtis Richmond commenced this
action. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's Complaint is
dismissed with leave to amend for failure to state a claim.
Plaintiff styles his complaint as a "Petition in the Nature of
Petition to Vacate Void Judgments and a Collateral Attack Against
the Listed Defendants for Violations Listed Below Under Fed. Rule
60(b) in General and Particularly Rule 60(b)(3)(4)." Plaintiff
names as defendants three Utah state judges, Citibank, and two of
Apparently, Plaintiff is a defendant in a suit brought by
Citibank in the Third District Court, Salt Lake County, State of
Utah. Judge Roth is the judge assigned to the case. On June 30,
2005, Judge Roth issued an Order on Citibank's Motion to Compel
WAC to Appoint Counsel, Motions to Strike Allegations of Answers
of Defendants Dale Stevens and Curtis Richmond and Motion for Emergency Order Enjoining Defendant
Curtis Richmond from Threatening the Court, Citibank's Attorneys
of Record and Witnesses, and Findings Thereon. On March 16, 2005,
Judge Barrett denied a motion filed by Plaintiff to remove Judge
Roth "for Cause of Bias and Prejudice." It also appears that
Judge Henriod denied Plaintiff's "Petition for An Extraordinary
Writ in the Nature of a Writ of Quo Warranto," which requested
that the Court order Citibank's attorney to "state by what
authority he presumes to issue fake, false, and fraudulent
orders, usurping the Court's authority."
In this action, Plaintiff seeks to "void" the decisions of
Judges Roth, Barrett, and Henriod. Plaintiff claims that the
judges lacked jurisdiction to issue these decisions because of
his membership in a purported Indian tribe, Wampanoag Nation
Tribe of Grayhead Wolf Band, and various rulings by the tribe's
supreme court. (Complaint, ¶¶ 3, 4, 9, 11.) Plaintiff alleges
that the judges violated his constitutional rights by acting
without jurisdiction. (Id.)
Plaintiff also claims that Citibank and its attorneys violated
his constitutional rights by prosecuting the action against him
when they lacked standing to do so. (Complaint, ¶ 4.) Plaintiff
further alleges that attorney Erik Christiansen violated his
constitutional rights by filing the Motion for Emergency Order
and that Citibank's attorneys committed felonies by filing
affidavits and thus acting as witnesses in the case. (Complaint,
¶¶ 5, 14.)
The Court sua sponte dismisses Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. The
Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to void any of the
decisions or judgments entered in the state court action. Under
the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, federal courts are barred from
hearing de facto appeals from state-court judgments. Bianchi v.
Rylaarsdam, 334 F.3d 895, 898 (9th Cir. 2003). Simply stated, a
United States District Court lacks the authority to disrupt or
"undo" a decision of a state court, regardless of whether the
state court's decision was correct or whether the state court
fully and fairly adjudicated the claim. Id. at 898-900.
Furthermore, absolute immunity is accorded to judges for
judicial acts taken within the jurisdiction of their courts.
Ashelman v. Pope, 793 F.2d 1072, 1075 (9th Cir. 1986). To
determine if the judge acted with jurisdiction, the focus is on
whether the judge was acting clearly beyond the scope of subject matter jurisdiction. Id. at
1076. Jurisdiction "should be broadly construed to effectuate the
policies supporting immunity." Id. To determine if a given
action is judicial, courts focus on whether (1) the precise act
is a normal judicial function; (2) the events occurred in the
judge's chambers; (3) the controversy centered around a case then
pending before the judge; and (4) the events at issue arose
directly and immediately out of a confrontation with the judge in
his or her official capacity. Id. at 1075.
Here, the judges were acting within the scope of their subject
matter jurisdiction when they issued decisions in a civil action
that was before them. Although Plaintiff argues that he was
immune from suit because of his membership in the Wampanoag
Nation Tribe of Grayhead Wolf Band and rulings by the tribal
court, there is a question as to whether this tribe is federally
recognized. See Motion for Emergency Order (attached to
Complaint), p. 2 ("As has been discussed in multiple briefs
previously filed in this matter, the tribal court that Richmond
refers to is not recognized under any federal or state
laws").*fn1 Accordingly, the judges were not acting clearly
beyond the scope of subject matter jurisdiction by adjudicating
the case before them.
The acts at issue ruling on motions, issuing orders, and
otherwise adjudicating the case are clearly judicial in nature.
Therefore, judicial immunity applies.
Plaintiff also fails to state a claim against the remaining
defendants. Plaintiff claims that Citibank and its attorneys have
violated his constitutional rights. However, their alleged acts,
which consist of suing without standing, filing a retaliatory
motion, and filing improper affidavits, do not rise to the level
of a constitutional violation. Moreover, Plaintiff has not
alleged that these parties acted under color of state law. See
Franklin v. Fox, 312 F.3d 423, 444-45 (9th Cir. 2002)
(explaining that plaintiffs do not enjoy constitutional
protections against private conduct abridging individual rights).
Accordingly, the Court dismisses Plaintiff's complaint for
failure to state a claim. However, the Court will grant Plaintiff
leave to file an amended complaint correcting the deficiencies
identified in this order. If Plaintiff chooses to file an amended
complaint, he must do so on or before January 9, 2006. If
Plaintiff fails to do so, this case will be terminated.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
© 1992-2005 VersusLaw Inc.