Deem v. DiMella-Deem, No. 18-2266 (2d Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's sua sponte dismissal of plaintiff's complaint, claiming that various individuals involved in his pending divorce and child custody proceedings, including his wife, their marriage counselor, and a family court judge, violated his constitutional rights and New York state law.
The court held that the district court correctly determined that, at all relevant times, the family court judge was entitled to judicial immunity. Furthermore, even if the judge erred in extending the temporary protection order against plaintiff shortly after recusing herself, any such error fell far short of an act taken in the complete absence of all jurisdiction. The court also held that the domestic relations abstention doctrine articulated in American Airlines, Inc. v. Block, 905 F.2d 12 (2d Cir. 1990), applies in federal‐question cases. The court clarified that, although the domestic relations "exception" to subject matter jurisdiction recognized by the Supreme Court in Ankenbrandt v. Richards, 504 U.S. 689 (1992), did not apply in federal‐question cases, the domestic relations abstention doctrine articulated in American Airlines did. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's federal claims on abstention grounds.