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Avraham Levi v. the State of New York

December 22, 2010

AVRAHAM LEVI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE STATE OF NEW YORK, SUPREME COURT COUNTY OF KINGS, OFFICE OF COURT ADMINISTRATION, FORMALLY AN ACTING SUPREME COURT JUDGE, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY, AND SIGAL "SHAVIT" LEVI, INDIVIDUALLY, JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY, AND ALL OTHERS SUMMARILY SITUATED, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John Gleeson, United States District Judge:

JUDGE MICHAEL A. AMBROSIO,

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This action arises out of a divorce proceeding that was tried in the Supreme Court of Kings County between 2001 and 2005 and resulted in a decree of divorce issued by Justice Michael Ambrosio in favor of Sigal Shavit Levi ("Sigal Levi"). Plaintiff Avraham Levi ("Levi") brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of New York, the Supreme Court of Kings County (the "Supreme Court"), the Office of Court Administration (the "OCA"), Ambrosio (collectively, the "State defendants"), and Sigal Levi for various violations of the federal Constitution, and the defendants have moved to dismiss. For the reasons set forth below, the defendants' motions are granted.

BACKGROUND*fn1

A. Trial Before Judge Garson

On October 21, 2001, Levi instituted divorce proceedings against his now-former wife, defendant Sigal Levi. At that time the parties had been married for 16 years and were the parents of five children then ranging between four and thirteen years of age: Hadar, Tamir, Tehila, Mattan, and Reie. Levi v. Levi, 2005 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 3479, at *1 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2005) (hereinafter "Levi I"). Levi also owned a home in Brooklyn which served as the marital residence.*fn2 Id. at *15.

As a result of a nine-day trial before Justice Gerald Garson, with Levi's consent, Sigal Levi was granted a divorce on the ground of constructive abandonment. Levi I at 3.*fn3 It is unclear whether any final judgment as to custody or division of marital property was entered. During the course of the trial, Sigal Levi petitioned the criminal court for an order of protection requiring Levi to stay away from and not communicate with her, which was granted.*fn4 People v. Levi, 55 A.D.3d 625, 625 (N.Y App. Div. 2008).

B. The Bribery Case

Post-trial briefing in Levi's divorce action was halted when Justice Garson was implicated in a bribery scandal. Garson was subsequently convicted of receiving bribes from litigants in return for favorable verdicts in their disputes -- including matrimonial disputes. Once Garson's activities were brought to light, investigators discovered that Levi was one of the individuals who had bribed Garson. Levi entered into a cooperation agreement with the Kings County District Attorney's Office regarding the bribery scandal, Levi I at 2-3, and on June 21, 2004, he pled guilty to conspiracy charges arising from a $10,000 bribe he paid to Garson. See Levi v. Levi, 46 A.D.3d 520, 521 (N.Y. App. Div. 2007) ("Levi II"). Levi was sentenced to a three-month term of incarceration and 150 hours of community service. (See Sanders Aff., Exh. A.) The divorce case that was still pending before Garson was declared a mistrial. Levi II at 521.

C. Retrial Before Justice Ambrosio

After an extended delay, the divorce case between Levi and Sigal Levi resumed in a trial before Justice Ambrosio. The new trial lasted 11 days, and dealt only with custody, child support, maintenance, and equitable distribution of the marital assets and debts. Levi I at 2. During the course of the trial, Ambrosio conducted a separate inquest as to the parties' marital status and granted Sigal Levi a judgment of divorce based on constructive abandonment. Id. at 3.

By order dated November 28, 2005, Justice Ambrosio awarded the entire marital residence to Sigal Levi. His decision was based in part on Levi's "egregious" behavior in bribing Justice Garson, a basis that the Appellate Division held to be proper. Id. at 23-24; see Levi II at 521-22. He divided the remainder of the marital assets and debts equally between the two parties, Levi I at 26-27, but declined to grant maintenance to either party, id. at 27. He gave full custody of Reie and Mattan to Levi, and of Tehila, Tamir, and Hadar to Sigal Levi. Id. at 12-13.

D. The Current Action

The current action consists of a series of alleged violations of ...


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