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El-Bey v. Clott

United States District Court, E.D. New York

January 19, 2017

ABRAHAM CLOTT, Defendants.


          COGAN, District Judge.

         Plaintiff brings this pro se action against Abraham Clott, a New York City Criminal Court Judge in Manhattan, [1] and invokes the Court's federal question and diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1332. Along with the complaint, plaintiff has filed an order to show cause seeking a temporary restraining order. Plaintiff has paid the requisite filing fee to initiate the action. For the reasons stated below, plaintiff's complaint is dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and his request for a temporary restraining order is denied as moot.


         The following facts are drawn from plaintiff's pleading and the exhibits attached thereto, the allegations of which are assumed to be true for purposes of this memorandum and order. Plaintiff's son, Santino Boderick (“Santino”), was convicted following a jury trial before defendant Judge Abraham Clott. Santino is due to be sentenced on January 18, 2017.[2] Although unclear, plaintiff appears to allege that defendant Clott did not have the authority to preside over his son's trial. On his son's behalf as “Lawful Moor Consul, ” he seeks to have this Court enjoin the state court proceedings, order the immediate release of his son, and award monetary damages.


         A complaint must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Matson v. Bd. of Educ., 631 F.3d 57, 63 (2d Cir. 2011) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). Although all allegations contained in the complaint are assumed to be true, this tenet is “inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Iqbal 556 U.S. at 678. In reviewing a pro se complaint, the court must be mindful that a plaintiff's pleadings should be held “to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976)); see also Harris v. Mills, 572 F.3d 66, 72 (2d Cir. 2009) (noting that even after Twombly, the court “remain[s] obligated to construe a pro se complaint liberally”).

         Even if a plaintiff has paid the court's filing fee, a district court may dismiss the case, sua sponte, if it determines that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction or the action is frivolous. Fitzgerald v. First E. Seventh St. Tenants Corp., 221 F.3d 362, 363-64 (2d Cir. 2000); see also Hawkins-El III v. AIG Federal Savings Bank, 334 F. App'x 394, 395 (2d Cir. 2009) (affirming district court's sua sponte dismissal of a frivolous complaint though the fee was paid).


         In order to bring suit in a federal court, a plaintiff must establish that he has standing to pursue his claims under Article III of the United States Constitution. E.M. v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Educ., 758 F.3d 442, 449 (2d Cir. 2014). “To establish that a case or controversy exists so as to confer standing under Article III, a plaintiff must satisfy three elements: (a) the plaintiff must suffer an injury in fact, (b) that injury must be fairly traceable to the challenged action, and (c) the injury must be likely to be redressed by a favorable decision of the federal court.” Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc. v. U.S. Food & Drug Admin., 710 F.3d 71, 79 (2d Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Hollingsworth v. Perry, 133 S.Ct. 2652, 2661 (2013) (“[F]or a federal court to have authority under the Constitution to settle a dispute, the party before it must seek a remedy for a personal and tangible harm.”).

         To have standing to assert a constitutional claim, a plaintiff must show that he was personally deprived of rights or privileges guaranteed by the Constitution. See, e.g., Collins v. W. Hartford Police Dep't, 324 F. App'x 137, 139 (2d Cir. 2009). Here, to the extent that any constitutional deprivation allegedly occurred, the injury would have been to plaintiff's son, not to the plaintiff himself. Accordingly, plaintiff fails to allege any facts to show that he personally suffered a constitutional injury and that he has standing to bring this suit.[3] See, e.g., Collins, 324 F. App'x at 139 (finding that plaintiff has no standing to challenge constitutional deprivations alleged to have been experienced by his mother and had not adequately alleged that he personally had suffered a constitutional injury); Guichardo v. Hanson, No. 15 CV 0585, 2015 WL 6866308, at *3 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 6, 2015) (grandmother, grandfather, and mother lacked standing where the complaint related to the harm allegedly suffered by their adult son).

         The Court further notes that to the extent plaintiff is attempting to represent his son in this action as if an attorney (given his references to his role as his son's “Lawful Moor Consul”), he may not do so. See Machadio v. Apfel, 276 F.3d 103, 106 (2d Cir. 2002) (a pro se litigant, who is not a licensed attorney, may not represent another's interest in federal court); Tindall v. Poultney High Sch. Dist., 414 F.3d 281, 284 (2d Cir. 2005) (“a parent not admitted to the bar cannot bring an action pro se . . . on behalf of his or her child.”).

         Further still, this action is baseless given well-settled precedent that judges have absolute immunity for their judicial acts performed in their judicial capacities. Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11 (1991); Dupree v. Bivona, No. 07-4599-cv, 2009 WL 82717, at *1-2 (2d Cir. Jan. 14, 2009); Colson v. N.Y. Police Dep't, No. 13 CV 5394, 2015 WL 64688, at *6 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 5, 2015). 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 (internal quotation marks omitted); Horton v. City of New York, No. 14 CV 4279, 2014 WL 3644711, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. July 22, 2014); Gamez v. U.S. Dist. Ct. E. & S. Dists. of - Tyranny, N.Y., No. 11-CV-4068, 2011 WL 3949807, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 6, 2011).

         Moreover, the Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1996, § 309(c), Pub. L. No. 104-317, 110 Stat. 3847, 3853 (1996) (amending 42 U.S.C. § 1983) bars all claims for injunctive relief against a judicial officer for a judicial action or omission “unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable.” Rodriguez v. Trager, No. 10 CV 0781, 2010 WL 889545, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 8, 2010). Here, plaintiff takes issue with how his son's criminal trial has proceeded. Even if plaintiff had standing to bring his son's claims against Judge Clott and Judge Clott was not protected by ...

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