(PS) Bator et al v. Siskiyou County et al, No. 2:2016cv02073 - Document 32 (E.D. Cal. 2017)

Court Description: FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS signed by Magistrate Judge Craig M. Kellison on 02/17/2017 RECOMMENDING that the Judicial Defendants' Unopposed 8 Motion to Dismiss be granted; the County Defendants' Unopposed 12 Motion to Dismiss be granted; and the action be Dismissed in its entirety with prejudice. Referred to Judge Garland E. Burrell, Jr. Objections are due within 14 days after being served with these findings and recommendations. (Jackson, T)

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(PS) Bator et al v. Siskiyou County et al Doc. 32 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 ANTHONY J. BATOR, et al., 12 Plaintiffs, 13 14 No. 2:16-CV-2073-GEB-CMK vs. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS SISKIYOU COUNTY, et al., 15 Defendants. 16 / 17 Plaintiffs, who are proceeding pro se, bring this civil action. Pending before the 18 court are the following unopposed motions: (1) Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 8) filed by defendants 19 Hon. Laura Masunaga, Hon. Joann Bicego, and Virginia Rhea (“judicial defendants”); and 20 (2) Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 12) filed by defendants Siskiyou County, Siskiyou County Health 21 and Human Services, Judy Carter, Suzanne Hogue, and Alix Byrd (“county defendants”). 22 /// 23 /// 24 /// 25 /// 26 /// 1 Dockets.Justia.com This action proceeds on the original complaint filed on August 30, 2016.1 The 1 2 judicial defendants argue that the complaint must be dismissed as to them because they are 3 entitled to judicial and quasi-judicial immunity. The judicial defendants also argue that the entire 4 complaint is barred by the Rooker-Feldman abstention doctrine. The county defendants argue 5 that the complaint should be dismissed because it contains no federal claims and remand to state 6 court would be futile. 7 Judges are absolutely immune from damage actions for judicial acts taken within 8 the jurisdiction of their courts. See Schucker v. Rockwood, 846 F.2d 1202, 1204 (9th Cir. 1988) 9 (per curiam). This immunity is lost only when the judge acts in the clear absence of all 10 jurisdiction or performs an act that is not judicial in nature. See id. Judges retain their immunity 11 even when they are accused of acting maliciously or corruptly, see Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 12 11 (1991) (per curiam); Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356-57 (1978), and when they are 13 accused of acting in error, see Meek v. County of Riverside, 183 F.3d 962, 965 (9th Cir. 1999). 14 This immunity extends to the actions of court personnel when they act as “an integral part of the 15 judicial process.” See Mullis v. U.S. Bankruptcy Court, 828 F.2d 1385, 1390 (9th Cir. 1987). 16 The judicial defendants are a state Superior Court judge, a Commissioner, and a 17 court investigator. Plaintiffs’ allegations against these defendants all relate to defendants’ 18 official conduct. Therefore, the judicial defendants are immune. 19 Under the Rooker-Feldman abstention doctrine, federal courts lack jurisdiction to 20 hear matters already decided in state court. See Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 21 (1923); District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983). The doctrine 22 applies in cases “brought by state court losers complaining of injuries caused by state court 23 judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and inviting district court 24 review and rejection of those judgments.” Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Industries Corp., 25 26 1 Because plaintiffs paid the filing fee, the complaint was not subject to screening by the court prior to service. 2 1 544 U.S. 280 (2005). An exception, inapplicable here, would be where Congress expressly 2 grants federal courts jurisdiction to review state court judgments (such as habeas corpus, for 3 example). 4 Here, a review of the complaint reflects that all of plaintiffs’ claims arise from 5 their dissatisfaction with the results of state court child custody proceedings. This court should 6 abstain. 7 Finally, the court agrees with the county defendants that it lacks subject matter 8 jurisdiction to entertain this suit. Plaintiffs allege subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 9 U.S.C. § 1343, which confers original jurisdiction in the district court for any civil action for 10 damages resulting from violation of civil rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution or 11 protected by federal law. Plaintiffs however, allege no facts which would suggest any such 12 violations. Rather, the few factual allegations contained in the complaint all relate to state court 13 proceedings. Moreover, each of the more than 650 “counts” set forth in the complaint cites a 14 provision of state law. The complaint contains to reference to any legal theory of damages 15 cognizable under federal law. Though plaintiffs cite 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985 in the caption 16 of the complaint, none of the “counts” references these federal statutes and the complaint is 17 devoid of facts consistent with violations of those statutes. 18 /// 19 /// 20 /// 21 /// 22 /// 23 /// 24 /// 25 /// 26 /// 3 1 Based on the foregoing, the undersigned recommends that: 2 1. The judicial defendants’ unopposed motion to dismiss (Doc. 8) be granted; 3 2. The county defendants’ unopposed motion to dismiss (Doc. 12) be 5 3. This action be dismissed in its entirety with prejudice. 6 These findings and recommendations are submitted to the United States District 7 Judge assigned to the case, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(l). Within 14 days 8 after being served with these findings and recommendations, any party may file written 9 objections with the court. Responses to objections shall be filed within 14 days after service of 4 granted; and 10 objections. Failure to file objections within the specified time may waive the right to appeal. 11 See Martinez v. Ylst, 951 F.2d 1153 (9th Cir. 1991). 12 13 14 15 16 DATED: February 17, 2017 ______________________________________ CRAIG M. KELLISON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 4

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