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DAVIDSON v. GARRY

September 16, 1996

ARTHUR T. DAVIDSON, Plaintiff, against WILLIAM GARRY, New York State Supreme Court Judge, Kings County, Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: BARTELS

 Plaintiff Arthur T. Davidson, M.D., Esq., brings this action pro se pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1343 and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983. Defendant Judge William Garry moves to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and (6) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

 Background

 Davidson claims that Judge Garry, while presiding over a state court case brought by Davidson, referred to Davidson, "who is a black attorney[,] in vicious derogatory terms in regards to his race and color," refused to allow an attorney to represent Davidson and improperly dismissed Davidson's state court action.

 Davidson originally sought both monetary damages and declaratory judgment. Then, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a), Davidson amended his complaint to withdraw the claim for monetary damages and add a claim for injunctive relief. Judge Garry consented to the amendment and the Court endorsed the order on February 28, 1996.

 For the reasons set forth below, Judge Garry's motion is granted and the complaint is dismissed.

 Discussion

 In order to evaluate these motions, the Court will first discuss the motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), including the standard for evaluating such motions, the construction of pro se pleadings and the elements essential to state a civil rights claim under § 1983. Second, the Court will discuss issues raised by the notion of judicial immunity from suit. Third, while evaluating subject matter jurisdiction in response to the Rule 12(b)(1) motion, the Court will discuss the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, which bars collateral attacks in federal court on state court judgments. Finally, the Court will consider abstention under Younger v. Harris, which ensures the proper relation between the federal courts and the state courts.

 I. Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

 A. Standard of Evaluation for Rule 12(b)(6) Motions

 On a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must accept all of Davidson's material allegations as true, Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 163, 113 S. Ct. 1160, 1161, 122 L. Ed. 2d 517 (1993), and must construe all reasonable inferences in his favor. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S. Ct. 1683, 1686, 40 L. Ed. 2d 90 (1974). The Court may only grant the motion if "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S. Ct. 99, 102, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1957); Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73, 104 S. Ct. 2229, 2232, 81 L. Ed. 2d 59 (1984). In addition, the Court must evaluate only the face of the pleadings, and its function "is not to weigh the evidence that might be presented at a trial but merely to determine whether the complaint itself is legally sufficient." Goldman v. Belden, 754 F.2d 1059, 1067 (2d Cir. 1985); See also Dwares v. City of New York, 985 F.2d 94, 99-100 (2d Cir. 1993)); Fariello v. Rodriguez, 148 F.R.D. 670, 674 (E.D.N.Y. 1993), aff'd, 22 F.3d 1090 (2d Cir. 1994).

 B. Construing the Pleadings

 Under the modern rules of pleading, a plaintiff need only provide "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" (Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)), and "all pleadings shall be so construed as to do substantial justice" (Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(f)). Fariello, 148 F.R.D. at 674.

 Although pro se litigants normally receive extra latitude in their pleadings, Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21, 92 S. Ct. 594, 595-96, 30 L. Ed. 2d 652 (1972), attorneys who represent themselves are not held to a lesser standard than attorneys who represent others. Harbulak v. County of Suffolk, 654 F.2d 194, 198 (2d Cir. 1981); Breindel & Ferstendig v. Willis Faber & Dumas, 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10432, No. 95 Civ. 7905, 1996 WL 413727 at *10 ...


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