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.

Dixon v. Albany County Board of Elections

September 5, 2008

CLIFTON M. DIXON; JUSTUS 4 US, THE POOR PEOPLE'S CAMPAIGN, INC.; SHANNON THOMAS; LOUIS W. BROWN; FRANCES POOLE; AND CLEO B. CARTER, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ALBANY COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS; VIRGINIA MAFFIA TOBLER; ALBANY COUNTY DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE; COUNTY OF ALBANY; JAQUELINE E. JONES; WANDA F. WILLINGHAM; JAMES FREZZELL; STEPHANIE GALKA; MATTHEW GALKA; MATTHEW CLYNE; HON. JOHN C. EGAN, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT FOR THE STATE OF NEW YORK; HON. ROGER D. MCDONOUGH, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT FOR THE STATE OF NEW YORK; AND THE HON. THOMAS J. MCNAMARA, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT FOR THE STATE OF NEW YORK, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary L. Sharpe U.S. District Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Plaintiffs, proceeding pro se, bring this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1973, 1983, 1985 and 1988, arising out of plaintiff Dixon's failed attempt to be elected as Legislator to the Albany County 4th Legislative District. Plaintiffs seek damages, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief. Pending is a motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 18.) under FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6) by the State of New York on behalf of defendant Justices Egan, McDonough and McNamara (collectively the "State Judicial Defendants"). For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted. Additionally, the court orders plaintiffs Thomas and Carter to verify their address, and plaintiff Justus 4 Us, thePoor People's Campaign, Inc. ("Justus 4 Us, Inc."), to retain counsel, or face dismissal from the action.

II. Facts

The plaintiffs' complaint is unfortunately not a model of clarity. However, the court has construed the facts relevant to the current motion as follows.

Plaintiff Dixon wished to become a candidate for Albany County Legislator of the 4th Legislative District. (See Compl. ¶ 42.) As such, he sought the endorsement of the Albany County Democratic Committee (the "Committee"). However, on May 15, 2007, the Committee instead decided that the Party would endorse the incumbent, defendant Tobler, as its candidate for the 4th Legislative District. Id. at ¶¶ 45, 54.

Dixon nevertheless managed to procure the requisite number of petition signatures to be placed on the primary election ballot for the Democratic and Independence parties. Id. at ¶¶ 60-61. Tobler and defendant Jones also collected sufficient petition signatures to appear on the primary ballot for the Democratic Party. Id. at ¶ 62. Subsequently, Dixon expressed objections regarding the signatures on Jones' petition to various Albany County Board of Elections' officials, including defendant Clyne. Id. at ¶¶ 67-69. When his objections were not addressed to his satisfaction, Dixon commenced an Article 78 proceeding on August 2, 2007, against, inter alios, Clyne, Jones and Tobler. Id. at ¶ 72. On August 7, 2007, defendant Justice Egan dismissed the proceeding in its entirety pursuant to Tobler's motion to dismiss. Id. at ¶¶ 76, 83. Dixon did not appeal. Id. at ¶ 87.

On September 18, 2007, the primary election was held. Dixon was not nominated as the candidate of either the Democratic or Independence Parties. Id. at ¶¶ 130-131. Apparently dissatisfied with the manner in which the primary elections had been administered, Dixon filed a second Article 78 proceeding, which was commenced on September 24, 2007, by order to show cause signed by defendant Justice McNamara. Id. at ¶ 120. A hearing was scheduled for September 28, 2007.*fn2 Id. at ¶ 120.

On September 26, 2007, Dixon commenced a third Article 78 proceeding by order to show cause, apparently seeking a preliminary injunction. Id. at ¶ 121. Defendant Justice McDonough signed the order to show cause - though allegedly modified in some indeterminate way from that Dixon had submitted - and scheduled a hearing to be held in consolidation with the September 28, 2007 hearing before Justice McNamara. Id. The hearing date was subsequently rescheduled to October 23, 2007, at which time Justice McNamara conducted a full evidentiary hearing and dismissed Dixon's petition. Id. at ¶¶ 122-25. Again, no appeal was filed. Id. at ¶¶ 138, 141. This action ensued, with the Plaintiffs complaining, inter alia, of perceived inequities and improprieties in the handling of Dixon's Article 78 proceedings. (See Dkt. No. 1.)

Presently, the court addresses: 1) the State Judicial Defendants' motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 18.); 2) the failure of plaintiffs Carter and Thomas to keep the court informed of their current address; and 3) the propriety of plaintiff Justus 4 Us, Inc.'s prosecution of this action as a pro se litigant, in light of its apparent status as a corporation.

III. Discussion

A. The State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss

Rule 12(b)(6) provides that a cause of action shall be dismissed if a complaint fails "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). Thus, "[t]o survive dismissal, the plaintiff must provide the grounds upon which his claim rests through factual allegations sufficient 'to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'" ATSI Commc'ns, Inc. v. Shaar Fund, Ltd., 493 F.3d 87, 98 (2d Cir. 2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007)). "A court's task in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is merely to assess the legal feasibility of the complaint, not to assay the weight of the evidence which might be offered in support thereof." AmBase Corp. v. City Investing Co. Liquidating Trust, 326 F.3d 63, 72 (2d Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Therefore, in reviewing a motion to dismiss, a court "must accept the facts alleged in the complaint as true and construe all reasonable inferences in [the plaintiff's] favor." Fowlkes v. Adamec, 432 F.3d 90, 95 (2d Cir. 2005) (citation omitted).

Turning to the pending motion, the State Judicial Defendants contend that dismissal of the claims against them is appropriate because: 1) sovereign immunity bars plaintiffs' suit against them in their official capacity; 2) they are entitled to absolute judicial immunity; 3) plaintiffs' suit is barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine; and 4) plaintiffs' have failed to seek prospective injunctive relief as against them.*fn3 Finding the issues of sovereign immunity and judicial ...


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.