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Donald David De Rosier v. Christopher Longaker

June 13, 2012

DONALD DAVID DE ROSIER,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHRISTOPHER LONGAKER, MARYANNE G. GILLIARD, GRETA FALL, MICHAEL SWEET, ARTHUR G. SCOTLAND, STEVE WHITE, VANCE W. RAYE, AND THE SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA FOR THE COUNTY OF SACRAMENTO, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss ("MTD") (ECF No. 7). The Motion is fully briefed. For the reasons that follow, the Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Donald D. deRosier, brings suit against Christopher Longaker, a Commissioner in the Small Claims Division of the Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento, Judges Maryanne G. Gilliard, Greta Fall, and Michael Sweet of the Appellate Division of the Superior Court, and retired Justice Arthur G. Scotland, formerly of the Third District Court of Appeal, in their personal and official capacity for injunctive relief. (Complaint ("Compl."), ECF No. 1 at 1-2.) He adds Presiding Judge Steve White of the Superior Court and Presiding Justice Vance W. Raye of the Third District Court of Appeal in their personal, official and administrative capacities for injunctive relief. (Id.) Finally, he brings suit against the Superior Court for such relief as may be proper. (Id. at 2.) All his claims fall under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. (See, e.g., id. at 1.) deRosier's claims arise out of his lawsuit against his sister in the Small Claims Division of the Superior Court of Sacramento, in which he received an award that he found unacceptably low. (Id. at 3.)*fn1 deRosier then had the case set aside and brought a new action with another judge in the same court. (Id. at 3-4.)

In this second action, Defendant Longaker found for deRosier's sister. (Id. at 4-5.) Believing that Longaker had made mistakes of law, deRosier motioned for the judgment to be set aside. (Id. at 5-6.) This motion was summarily denied. (Id. at 6.)

deRosier then filed a petition for an extraordinary writ with the Appellate Division of the Superior Court, challenging Longaker's decision. (Id. at 7.) The court thereafter summarily denied the petition. (Id.) deRosier filed a similar petition with the Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District with the same result. (Id. at 7-8.) Finally, deRosier filed a petition for review with the Supreme Court of California, in which he argued that both courts had erred by misinterpreting material from the California Judges Benchbook. (Id. at 8-9.) This petition was also summarily denied. (Id. at 9.) deRosier claims that he then sent a copy of a letter of complaint to Defendant White, who supervised the judges who had been involved in deRosier's earlier litigation. (Id.) deRosier did not receive a response from Judge White. (Id. at 10.)

On June 15, 2011, deRosier filed his Complaint in this Court. In essence, deRosier claims that his due process and equal protection rights have been violated because Defendants:

(a) failed to adequately consider his case and made mistakes in their consideration of the facts and law; and (b) established by judicial fiat that small claims plaintiffs have no right of review. (Id. at 10-14) (citing McClatchy v. Superior Court, 119 Cal. 413, 418 (holding that denying right to present evidence deprived petitioner of right to be heard in his defense).)

Specifically, deRosier contends that his equal protection rights were violated because "similarly situated litigants are not treated similarly." (Compl. at 11) (citing Houghtaling v. Superior Court, 17 Cal. App. 4th 1128 (stating that appellate courts may entertain petitions for extraordinary review if law is to be made settling significant issues of small claims procedure).) deRosier seeks a new trial, and he also wants safeguards implemented so that the issues he allegedly encountered "are less likely to occur in the future." (Compl. at 12.) He requests attorney fees and costs incurred in pursuing his claims. (Id.) He also seeks an order directing that Defendant Longaker be ordered to set aside his judgment and order a new trial. (Id.)

Alternatively, deRosier requests that either the Appellate Division of the Superior Court or the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, be ordered to issue an extraordinary writ setting aside the judgment. (Id. at 13.)

In the event that he does not receive a new trial, he alternatively seeks $7,000 in compensation from the County of Sacramento "for the loss of the small claims suit due to the violations of the U.S. Constitution." (Id.)

Additionally, deRosier requests that presiding judges of the Superior Court and Third Appellate District be ordered in their administrative capacities to issue new instructions on the use of the Benchbook. (Id.) He also seeks an instruction that recording devices shall be provided and used in small claims cases. (Id.) Finally, he seeks assurances that judges will be properly trained in the future. (Id. at 13-14.)

Defendants move to dismiss, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 12(b)(1) and (6) on the grounds that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, and that deRosier's claims are barred by the Eleventh Amendment and the judicial immunity doctrine. (MTD, ECF No. 7, at 2.) Additionally, Defendants argue ...


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