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Kapsis v. Brandveen

July 20, 2009

JAMES L. KAPSIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HON. ANTONIO BRANDVEEN, HON. ARTHUR DIAMOND, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seybert, District Judge

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

James Kapsis ("Plaintiff"), a frequent filer in this Court, filed a pro se, fee-paid Complaint on March 31, 2009, against the Honorable Antonio Brandveen ("Judge Brandveen") and the Honorable Arthur Diamond ("Justice Diamond"), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") and 42 U.S.C. § 1985 ("Section 1985"). For the reasons set-forth below, the Court dismisses the Complaint and warns Plaintiff against filing future actions pertaining to the Nassau County Independence Party.

BACKGROUND

While Plaintiff's Complaint is difficult to comprehend, it appears that Plaintiff claims he has been "disenfranchised" in his "elected duties as Chairman of the Nassau County Independence Party," during the course of various state court proceedings. (Compl. ¶¶ 23, 29, 30.) Plaintiff's allegations stem from various decisions made by Judge Brandveen and Justice Diamond, namely decisions regarding (1) Plaintiff's ability to inspect election proxies (Compl. ¶ 30), (2) his state court motions for "recusal and for counsel" (Compl. ¶ 39), (3) the imposition of sanctions (Compl. ¶ 37), the issuance of other miscellaneous judicial decisions (Compl. ¶ 47), and a decision not to "hold a hearing on the merits" in a particular action. (Compl. ¶ 55.) Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment and relief in his lower state court proceedings. (Compl. ¶ 68-69.)

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

In reviewing Plaintiff's Complaint, the Court is mindful that because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, his submissions should be held "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9, 101 S.Ct. 173, 66 L.Ed. 2d 163. 176 (1980). Furthermore, the pleadings must be read liberally and interpreted as raising the strongest arguments they suggest. McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F.3d 197, 200 (2d Cir. 2004).

Notwithstanding the liberal pleading standards, all complaints must contain at least "some minimum level of factual support for their claims . . . ." Alfaro Motors, Inc. v. Ward, 814 F.2d 883, 887 (2d Cir. 1987). Regardless of whether a Plaintiff has paid the filing fee, a district court has the inherent power to dismiss a case, sua sponte, if it determines that the action is frivolous or the court lacks jurisdiction over the matter. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3); Fitzgerald v. First East Seventh Street Tenants Corp., 221 F.3d 362, 363-364 (2d Cir. 2000). "A complaint will be dismissed as 'frivolous' when 'it is clear that the defendants are immune from suit.'" Montero v. Travis, 171 F.3d 757, 760 (2d Cir. 1999) (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325, 327, 109 S.Ct. 1827, 104 L.Ed. 2d 338 (1989); see also George v. Park, No. 07-CV-3546, 2007 WL 2769401 at *2 (E.D.N.Y., September 21, 2007) (dismissing fee-paid § 1983 claim as frivolous based on judicial immunity).

II. Judicial Immunity

Under the doctrine of absolute judicial immunity, judges are subject to suit only for (1) "non-judicial actions, i.e., actions not taken in the judge's judicial capacity," or (2) "actions, though judicial in nature, taken in the complete absence of all jurisdiction." Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11-12, 112 S.Ct. 286, 116 L.Ed. 2d 9 (1991); see Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356, 98 S.Ct. 1099, 55 L.Ed. 2d 331 (1978); Young v. Selsky, 41 F.3d 47, 50 (2d Cir. 1994). This absolute "judicial immunity is not overcome by allegations of bad faith or malice," nor can a judge "be deprived of immunity because the action he took was in error . . . or was in excess of his authority." Mireles, 502 U.S. at 11 (quoting Stump, 435 U.S. at 356).

Here, Plaintiff's allegations pertain to judicial acts performed in Defendants' judicial capacities.*fn1 Plaintiff contests decisions made on motions "for recusal and for counsel" (Compl. ¶ 39), the imposition of sanctions (Compl. ¶ 37), the issuance of judicial decisions (Compl. ¶ 47), and the decision not to "hold a hearing on the merits." (Compl. ¶ 55.) Even if the Court gives the Complaint a most liberal reading and accepts the truth of all allegations asserted, Plaintiffs' claims against Judges Antonio Brandveen and Arthur Diamond are barred by judicial immunity. George v. Park, No. 07-CV-3546, 2007 WL 2769401 at *2 (E.D.N.Y., September 21, 2007) (dismissing fee-paid § 1983 claim against judges as frivolous based on immunity grounds).

In addition, the Federal Courts Improvement Act (FCIA), Pub. L. No. 104-317, 110 Stat. 3847 (1996), § 309(c) bars injunctive relief in any § 1983 action "against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity . . . unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable." Id. § 309(c), 110 Stat. at 3853 (amending 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Huminski v. Corsones, 396 F.3d 53, 54 (2d Cir. 2004); Bliven v. Hunt, 418 F. Supp. 2d 135, 139 (E.D.N.Y. 2005).

As the alleged wrongdoing of Judge Brandveen and Justice Diamond are acts that were performed within their judicial capacities during Plaintiff's state court proceedings, any claims for ...


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