Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

NEW ALLIANCE PARTY v. FBI

July 28, 1994

NEW ALLIANCE PARTY, DR. LENORA B. FULANI, DR. FRED NEWMAN and DR. RAFAEL MENDEZ, Plaintiffs,
v.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION LOUIS F. FREEH, as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, JAMES M. FOX, as Acting Director in Charge of the FBI New York Division, and JANET RENO, as United States Attorney General, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CONSTANCE BAKER MOTLEY

 Motley, District Judge.

 FACTS

 Plaintiff New Alliance Party ("NAP") is a national political party whose candidates have sought elective office in several local and statewide campaigns since its founding in 1979. The party gained national prominence when Dr. Lenora Fulani, a founding member, launched presidential campaigns in 1984, 1988 and 1992. During her 1988 and 1992 campaigns, Dr. Fulani became the first African-American woman to appear on the ballot in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. She was also the first member of any party qualified by the Federal Election Commission ("FEC"), ranking first in the number of Americans who contributed to her campaign. Comp. P 9; Ex. B to Defendant's Notice of Motion ("FBI Motion")).

 Three years after the 1988 presidential campaign, NAP requested copies of documents from the FBI's investigative file under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. ยง 552(b)(7). At that time, plaintiffs learned of an FBI investigation of NAP's activities initiated "in the very month that the FEC certified Dr. Fulani for primary matching funds for her 1988 race." Comp. P 9; FBI Motion, Ex. B. Since learning of the investigation, NAP has received several internal FBI documents summarizing NAP's activities and its public profile. Ex. A to the Declaration of Arthur R. Block dated March 28, 1994 ("Block Decl. II").

 The gravamen of plaintiffs' complaint is that the FBI characterized NAP as a "political cult" whose members are "armed and dangerous" and undertook to investigate NAP believing it to be a cult. The FBI initiated a preliminary investigation of NAP in 1988, after receiving a communication from its Phoenix field office that a "confidential source . . . alleged that certain members of [] NAP had access to weapons and that some individuals advocated robbing banks and killing police officers." Ex. A to the Declaration of Mark V. Rich dated September 14, 1993 ("Rich Decl."). After conducting a four-month investigation, the FBI concluded that this information could not be corroborated and the investigation was ended. Id.

 On May 16, 1988, the New York Field Office transmitted a report to FBI headquarters summarizing the results of the four-month investigation. The report concluded that "no further information has been developed which characterizes NAP as none other than a political/cult organization using social outreach to recruit support." Comp. P 2. Ex. R to the Declaration of Arthur R. Block dated August 30, 1993 ("Block Decl. I").

 The FBI claims that it has not investigated NAP's activities since the 1988 investigation ended. Rich Decl., Ex. A. However, NAP disputes their claim, alleging that "in July 1991, the FBI's Indianapolis, Indiana field office initiated an investigation of NAP based solely upon protected First Amendment activities of Dr. Fulani and other NAP members." Comp. P 27. The evidence shows that the FBI responded to an inquiry from its Indianapolis Field Office ("FBI Indianapolis") concerning NAP's activities after that office received a newspaper article describing the party's affiliation with M-19, a Columbian political party formerly engaged in terrorist activities. Block Decl II., Ex. B.

 The FBI responded to the inquiry by sending FBI Indianapolis a copy of two newspaper articles on NAP obtained from its files. The FBI also summarized the 1988 investigation as follows:

 
FBI PHOENIX INITIATED A PRELIMINARY INQUIRY ON THE NAP IN JANUARY, 1988, WHEN A SOURCE OF UNKNOWN RELIABILITY ALLEGED THAT THIS GROUP WAS INVOLVED IN ACTIVITIES THAT ADVOCATE THE OVERTHROW OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLE, TO INCLUDE FORCE OR VIOLENCE. MEMBERS OF THE NAP SHOULD BE CONSIDERED ARMED AND DANGEROUS AS THEY ARE KNOWN TO POSSESS WEAPONS. THIS INQUIRY WAS CLOSED ON APRIL 7, 1988, DUE TO THE FACT THAT NO AND/OR INSUFFICIENT INFORMATION WAS DEVELOPED PERTAINING TO THE NAP OR ITS MEMBERS TO SUBSTANTIATE THE SOURCE'S ALLEGATIONS WHICH WOULD HAVE JUSTIFIED CONTINUING THE INVESTIGATION UNDER THE ATTORNEY GENERAL GUIDELINES. Block Decl. II, Ex. B.

 Finally, the FBI requested that FBI Indianapolis "remain in contact with [deleted under FOIA] for any information" that NAP and M-19 might be planning "forceful and/or violent acts in the United States to overthrow the government." Block Decl. II, Ex. B. After receiving this response, FBI Indianapolis "concluded that no investigation was warranted, and none was conducted." Rich Decl., Ex. A.

 Plaintiffs have requested a declaratory judgment declaring that "defendants' description of a group of persons as a 'cult,' or its use of such a description as the predicate or justification for investigative activities, use of force, criminal prosecution, or governmental regulation is a violation of the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States." Comp. P 1. In response, defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that: (1) this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Fed.R.Civ.P.; and (2) plaintiffs have failed to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Fed.R.Civ.P.

 After hearing defendants' motion, by order dated November 17, 1993, the court converted defendants' motion to a motion for summary judgment. Subsequent to that order, the court heard oral argument on the motion and considered additional affidavits and evidence submitted by the parties.

 Based on the pleadings submitted and the evidence presented by both parties, this court finds that defendants are entitled to summary judgment because plaintiffs' allegations are insufficient to find constitutional standing on plaintiffs' part to bring this action. The injuries alleged in the complaint are not specific enough to meet the constitutional standard set by the Supreme Court in Laird v. Tatum and its progeny. Plaintiffs' have failed to trace their alleged injuries directly to the FBI investigation and the "cult" characterization. Moreover, the relief which plaintiffs seek goes far beyond the scope of the injuries allegedly sustained.

 DISCUSSION

 Standards for Summary Judgment

 It is well-established in the Second Circuit that a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is addressed to the face of the pleadings. See, Goldman v. Belden, 754 F.2d 1059, 1065 (2d Cir. 1985). Upon receiving a 12(b)(6) motion, the court, in the exercise of its discretion, may convert the motion to one for summary judgment and afford all parties the opportunity to present supporting ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.