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LANGDON v. COUNTY OF COLUMBIA

June 14, 2004.

FRANK D. LANGDON, GRANT D. LANGDON, Plaintiffs,
v.
COUNTY OF COLUMBIA; PAUL PROPER, Former Sheriff of Columbia County; DAVID PROPER, Deputy Sheriff for Columbia County; CHARLES WILSON, Deputy Sheriff for Columbia County; INVESTIGATOR VICK, Investigator for Columbia County Sheriff's Department; INVESTIGATOR COZZALINO, Investigator for Columbia County Sheriff's Department; JASON SHAW, as Employee of Rappaport, Meyers, Whitebeck, Shaw & Rodenhausen, LLP; CARL G. WHITBECK, JR., Columbia County Attorney, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HOWARD MUNSON, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM — DECISION AND ORDER

BACKGROUND

  On August 9, 1999, the Clerk's Office for the Northern District of New York received correspondence from pro se plaintiff, Grant D. Langdon ("Langdon"), which included a notice of motion and an affidavit in support of his request for sanctions for full recovery of damages, presumably made pursuant to Rule 11(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, against defendants. Previously, on July 14, 1999, the court granted defendants' motion to dismiss the case pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure holding that Langdon and his son's case was barred by the doctrine of res judicata. See Langdon v. Proper, 1999 WL 263554 (N.D.N.Y. July 14, 1999). Judgment was entered for defendants the same day. Dkt. No. 41. Plaintiff never appealed the court's order of dismissal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, thus rendering this court's judgment final and the case closed.

  On June 1, 2004, the court received a Mandate from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which denied Langdon's mandamus petition to compel the district court to decide Langdon's motion for sanctions. The Second Circuit noted that Langdon had "failed to submit evidence that the motion for sanctions, which is neither reflected on the district court's docket sheet nor present in the record, was actually filed in the district court . . . If [Langdon] wishes to contest the accuracy of the district court's records, application should be made to that court." Dkt. No. 42.

  On June 4, 2004, the court received correspondence from Langdon in which he contested the accuracy of the district court's records. Langdon cited his motion papers dated August 4, 1999, and noted that in reply to his motion for sanctions, counsel for defendants had submitted an affidavit in opposition. After review of Langdon's submissions, the court determines that Langdon submitted a motion for sanctions that should have been filed and surmises that, due to clerical error, plaintiff's motion for sanctions was never file stamped and thereafter remained in the correspondence section of the case file.*fn1 The court will now address Langdon's motion for sanctions.

  DISCUSSION

  I. Plaintiff's Pro Se Status

  Because plaintiff proceeds pro se in this matter, the court must hold his submissions to "less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520, 92 S.Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972); accord Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994) ("[W]e read [the pro se party's] supporting papers liberally, and will interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest."). This liberal standard, however, does not excuse a pro se litigant from complying with relevant rules of procedural and substantive law. See Traguth v. Zuck, 710 F.2d 90, 95 (2d Cir. 1983).

  II. Alleged Sanctionable Conduct

  In his August 9, 1999, affidavit, Langdon alleges that "[l]awyers for the defendant and the named defendants Obstructed Justice by destruction Of evidence, the willful withholding of evidence and filing a frivolous motion To conceal the illegal actions of the County of Columbia and the defendants." In his June 4, 2004, affidavit, Langdon alleges that James Resila, Esq., counsel for defendants, submitted affidavits he knew to be false. Langdon further alleges that Resila withheld exculpatory evidence from the Grand Jury and District Attorney. Langdon requests that the court award "sanctions covering the full damages caused by the defendants" in the amount of $50 million and bar Carter, Conboy, Case, Blackmore, Napierski & Maloney, P.C. from appearing before the Federal Courts and practicing law within the State of New York. Langdon Aff. August 9, 1999; Langdon Aff. June 9, 2004.

  III. Rule 11 Procedural Requirements

  As noted above, Langdon failed to specify under or upon which statute he was bringing his motion for sanctions against defendants. Based upon the allegations contained in Langdon's affidavits, as summarized above, the court infers that Langdon brought his motion pursuant to Rule 11(b) and Rule 11(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 11(b)(3) states

 
By representing to the court . . . a pleading, written motion, or other paper, an attorney or unrepresented party is certifying that to the best of the person's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances, — (3) the allegations and other factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, are likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery.
Rule 11(c) states "[i]f after notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond, the court determines that [Rule 11](b) has been violated, ...

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