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Tsitrin v. U.S. Department of Justice

United States District Court, Second Circuit

October 25, 2013

LEV TSITRIN, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Defendant.

Plaintiff brings this action pro se.

The Court dismisses the Complaint for the reasons set forth below.

OPINION AND ORDER

LORNA G. SCHOFIELD, District Judge.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Court has the authority to dismiss a frivolous complaint sua sponte, even when the plaintiff has paid the filing fee. Fitzgerald v. First East Seventh Street Tenants Corp., 221 F.3d 362, 363-64 (2d Cir. 2000) (per curiam) (citing Pillay v. INS, 45 F.3d 14, 16-17 (2d Cir. 1995) (per curiam) (holding that Court of Appeals has inherent authority to dismiss frivolous appeals)). A claim is "frivolous when either: (1) the factual contentions are clearly baseless, such as when allegations are the product of delusion or fantasy; or (2) the claim is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory." Livingston v. Adirondack Beverage Co., 141 F.3d 434, 437 (2d Cir. 1998) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). District courts "remain obligated to construe a pro se complaint liberally." Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009). Thus, courts should read pro se complaints with "special solicitude" and interpret them to raise the "strongest arguments that they suggest." Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471, 474-75 (2d Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

BACKGROUND

This action arises out of Plaintiff's prior cases in the federal courts. In 2005, he and his company Overview Books, LLC ("Overview") sued the United States over the Cataloguing in Publication program ("CIP") managed by the Library of Congress (the "Library"). Overview Books, LLC v. United States, 72 Fed.Cl. 37 (Ct. Cl. 2006). The Library had refused to include in CIP a book published by Overview and authored by Plaintiff because the book's publication did not meet the CIP's requirements. Id. Plaintiff alleged that those requirements violated his First and Fifth Amendment rights, but the Court of Federal Claims dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. Id. at 41-42, 46. That decision was affirmed on appeal. Overview Books, LLC v. United States, 232 Fed.App'x 989 (Fed. Cir. 2007), reh'g denied, No. 06-5138 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 22, 2007), cert. denied, 552 U.S. 1259 (2008).

Plaintiff sued again, this time in the Eastern District of New York, seeking redress for the Library's refusal to include his work in the CIP. Overview Books, LLC v. United States, 755 F.Supp.2d 409 (E.D.N.Y. 2010). District Judge Vitaliano dismissed those claims on issue and claim preclusion grounds. Id. at 420-21. That decision, too, was affirmed. Overview Books, LLC v. United States, 438 Fed.App'x 31 (2d Cir. 2011).

Plaintiff then filed a complaint in New York state court against the judges who adjudicated his 2010 suit, alleging that Judge Vitaliano "fraudulently" dismissed his claims and that the appellate court judges compounded the harm by affirming the district court decision. Tsitrin v. Jacobs, No. 111771/2011 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Oct. 17, 2011). After removal to this Court, substitution of the United States as the defendant and construction of Plaintiff's claims as arising under the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), the Court dismissed the action on the ground of sovereign immunity. Tsitrin v. Jacobs, No. 12 Civ. 1411, 2012 WL 1267982, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 10, 2012).

In 2011, Plaintiff sued Federal Claims Judge Charles Lettow, who had dismissed Plaintiff's 2005 case. After removal from the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the action on the grounds of judicial immunity and for failure to exhaust any FTCA claims. Tsitrin v. Lettow, 888 F.Supp.2d 88, 93 (D.D.C. 2012), aff'd, No. 12-5317, 2013 WL 1733756 (D.C. Cir. Apr. 2, 2013).

In this case, Plaintiff recounts his litigation history and alleges that all of the judges in his prior cases "us[ed] fraudulent procedure when substituting parties' actual argument with their own fantasies...." He asserts that the judges could not have been "protected from prosecution by federal and judicial immunity accorded to judicial actions" because the judges'"substitution of parties' argument with judges' own fantasies... turned judges into parties to the case" and they therefore could not have acted in their judicial capacities. Plaintiff also argues that the judges' acts:

contradicted court's own definition of judicial process as expressed in the form of publicly-displayed artifacts commissioned to explain to the public the legitimate judicial process, which consists of impartial evaluation of parties' argument, not of substitution of such argument with judges' own fantasies prior to evaluation....

Plaintiff also asserts that the judges' acts "contradicted the definition of proper judging agreed-on conjointly by all branches of U.S. government - executive, legislative and judiciary - rather than by judiciary alone...."

Plaintiff alleges that in his prior cases, lawyers for the defendant United States Department of Justice argued that "judges are entitled to acting [sic] corruptly or maliciously' and the judges held that "substitution of argument prior to making a decision is a classic exercise of the judicial function'...." Therefore, he argues, "Defendant's depictions of due process of the law as an impartial weighing of parties' argument constitutes blatant deception..., " and such "deception... caused Plaintiff to suffer acute psychological and emotional traumas for over eight years, repeated ...


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