Karim Christian Kamal v. County of Los Angeles et al

Filing 6

ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE by Magistrate Judge Douglas F. McCormick. Response to Order to Show Cause due by 5/16/2017. See Order for further information. (twdb)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 WESTERN DIVISION ) No. CV 17-01986-RGK (DFM) KARIM CHRISTIAN KAMAL, ) ) Plaintiff, ) ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE ) v. ) ) COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES et ) al., ) ) ) Defendants. ) ) ) 18 19 20 On March 13, 2017, Karim Christian Kamal (“Plaintiff”) filed pro se a 21 complaint alleging violations of federal and state law, and he paid the $400 22 filing fee. Dkt. 1 (“Complaint”). Plaintiff alleges that he was “grievously 23 injured” during a motorcycle crash on the Big Tujunga Canyon Road in the 24 Angeles National Forest and that he subsequently sued Los Angeles County 25 (“the County”) in state court based on the road’s allegedly dangerous 26 condition. Id. at 4. During the course of that lawsuit, Plaintiff alleges, “[t]he 27 County and its agents/attorneys/representatives and co-conspirators 28 obstructed discovery, concealed material evidence, doctored documents, 1 tampered with evidence, willfully misled . . . [P]laintiff and, based on these 2 fraudulent acts, procured a summary judg[]ment against” him. Id. Plaintiff 3 further alleges that the state-court judges involved in his case issued 4 unconstitutional rulings against him in order to “punish[]” him for “raising 5 issues about the malfeasance and nonfeasance of the County” and that the 6 appellate justices “failed to disclose . . . disqualifying facts” about alleged 7 conflicts of interest. Id. at 5-8. 8 Plaintiff sues (1) the County1; (2) the Los Angeles County Department of 9 Public Works (“DPW”); (3) the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors; (4) 10 Gail Farber, the Director of DPW; (5) Craig Cline, a DPW engineer; (6) Arnel 11 Dulay, a DPW employee; (7) Joseph A. Farrow, Commissioner for California 12 Highway Patrol (“CHP”); (8) “Commander(s) of the CHP Division for 13 Altadena/Angeles National Forest Area since 2009”; (9) Dustin Sherman, a 14 CHP officer; (10) Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Donna Fields 15 Goldstein; (11) Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Samantah P. 16 Jessner; (12) the law firm Hurrell Cantrall LLP; (13) Warren Williams, an 17 attorney representing Los Angeles County; (14) California Court of Appeal 18 Justice Patricia Ann Bigelow; and (15) California Court of Appeal Justice 19 Lawrence Rubin. Id. at 1-4. 20 Plaintiff alleges five causes of action: that (1) Judges Jessner and 21 Goldstein and Justices Rubin and Bigelow violated his rights under the Due 22 Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment; (2) all 23 Defendants conspired to violate his civil rights; (3) the individual Defendants 24 violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”); 25 (4) all Defendants “procured a judg[]ment against [Plaintiff] by fraud, 26 27 28 Plaintiff does not list the County in the section of the Complaint for listing Defendants, but he does list it in the Complaint’s caption. See Complaint at 1. 1 2 1 including concealment of material facts”; and (5) all Defendants conspired to 2 commit fraud against Plaintiff. Complaint at 30-33. He seeks $16 million in 3 compensatory damages; unspecified punitive damages; and orders declaring 4 that various state-court orders violated his constitutional rights and are 5 unenforceable. Id. at 33-36. 6 Because Plaintiff paid the full filing fee and is not a prisoner, the 7 Complaint is not subject to preservice screening under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) 8 or 1915A. See Brown v. California, No. 11-0707, 2011 WL 5827958, at *1 9 (C.D. Cal. May 18, 2011), accepted by 2011 WL 5828717 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 18, 10 2011). The Court may, however, sua sponte dismiss a frivolous, patently 11 insubstantial complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal 12 Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 13 n.6 (1989) (courts lack subject matter jurisdiction to consider “patently 14 insubstantial” complaints); see also Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227 15 n.6 (9th Cir. 1984) (“A paid complaint that is ‘obviously frivolous’ does not 16 confer federal subject matter jurisdiction and may be dismissed sua sponte 17 before service of process.” (citations omitted)). A frivolous complaint “lacks an 18 arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 325. 19 Plaintiff’s claims against the four Defendant judicial officers—Judges 20 Jessner and Goldstein and Justices Rubin and Bigelow—are subject to 21 dismissal because they are frivolous. Judicial officers are absolutely immune 22 from liability for acts performed in their judicial capacity. Mireles v. Waco, 23 502 U.S. 9, 9, 11 (1991) (per curiam). Judicial immunity bars suit even if a 24 judge is accused of acting in bad faith, maliciously, corruptly, erroneously, or 25 in excess of jurisdiction. Id. at 11-13. Judicial immunity is overcome only 26 when the judge’s actions are not taken in his or her judicial capacity or when 27 the actions, though judicial in nature, are taken in the “complete absence of all 28 jurisdiction.” Id. at 11-12. And although a judge is not absolutely immune 3 1 from a suit for prospective injunctive relief, see id. at *10 n.1; Pulliam v. Allen, 2 466 U.S. 522, 541-43 (1984); § 1983 itself prohibits a grant of injunctive relief 3 against any judicial officer acting in his or her judicial capacity “unless a 4 declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable.” § 1983; 5 see also Wolfe v. Strankman, 392 F.3d 358, 366 (9th Cir. 2004). 6 Here, it is clear that Plaintiff is challenging only acts that the four 7 Defendant judicial officers performed in their judicial capacity. Plaintiff alleges 8 that Judge Goldstein violated Plaintiff’s constitutional rights by forwarding her 9 tentative summary-judgment ruling to Judge Jessner; ruling on the defendants’ 10 motion for costs; and modifying that ruling after it was on appeal. Complaint 11 at 26. He alleges that Judge Jessner violated his constitutional rights by failing 12 to consider Plaintiff’s opposition to the defendants’ motion for summary 13 judgment and instead “rul[ing] on Judge Gold[]stein’s tentative ruling”; 14 allowing a different plaintiff to proceed on similar claims in state court after 15 granting summary judgment against Plaintiff; failing to inform Plaintiff that 16 Judge Goldstein had forwarded the tentative ruling to her; refusing to hear 17 Plaintiff’s motion to set aside the summary-judgment ruling, and failing to 18 disclose that her husband was a “former Los Angeles County Deputy District 19 Attorney.” Id. at 27. 20 Plaintiff alleges that Justice Rubin, who was on the panel of justices who 21 heard Plaintiff’s appeal, violated Plaintiff’s constitutional rights by “fail[ing] to 22 disclose that he was a former employer of . . . [P]laintiff’s sister and that he 23 terminated the employment of the sister in anger over a financial dispute.” Id. 24 at 28-29. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Judge Bigelow, who authored the 25 opinion that upheld the trial court’s summary-judgment ruling, failed to 26 disclose that she was in a long-term relationship with “a retired Los Angeles 27 City Fire Department firefighter” who was then the “Commissioner for Safety 28 of La Canada Flintridge” and thus had some association with law 4 1 enforcement. Id. at 7-8, 29. All of those actions were taken in the Defendant 2 judges’ and justices’ judicial capacity. Plaintiff, moreover, does not seek any 3 prospective injunctive relief. As such, those four Defendants are absolutely 4 immune from suit. 5 IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that on or before May 16, 2017, 6 Plaintiff show cause in writing why his claims against Judges Jessner and 7 Goldstein and Justices Rubin and Bigelow should not be dismissed because 8 they are barred by absolute judicial immunity. Plaintiff may, in the alternative, 9 voluntarily dismiss those Defendants from the Complaint by submitting such a 10 request in writing. Plaintiff is warned that his failure to timely respond to the 11 Order may result in those Defendants being dismissed for the reasons 12 discussed above. 13 Plaintiff is also advised that there are three federal “pro se” clinics in this 14 district. The clinics offer on-site information and guidance to individuals who 15 are representing themselves (proceeding pro se) in federal civil actions. The 16 clinics are administered by nonprofit law firms, not the Court. The clinic 17 located closest to Plaintiff’s address of record is in the United States 18 Courthouse at 312 N. Spring Street, Room G-19, Main Street Floor, Los 19 Angeles, CA 90012. Clinic hours are Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 20 9:30 a.m. to noon and from 2 to 4 p.m. Useful information is also available on 21 the Court’s website, http://court.cacd.uscourts.gov/cacd/ProSe.nsf/. 22 23 Dated: April 18, 2017 ______________________________ DOUGLAS F. McCORMICK United States Magistrate Judge 24 25 26 27 28 5

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