XU v. ARPERT
OPINION. Signed by Judge Robert B. Kugler on 1/15/2014. (drw)
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
(Doc. No. 1)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
DOUGLAS E. ARPERT
Civil No. 14-83 (RBK/AMD)
KUGLER, United States District Judge:
Plaintiff, Huafeng Xu, filed a Civil Complaint on January 6, 2014. In his Complaint, Mr.
Xu seeks monetary relief from the Honorable Douglas E. Arpert, U.S.M.J. (“Magistrate Judge
Arpert”), and further asks this Court to “immediately investigate and prosecute” Magistrate
Judge Arpert and bestow “a maximum punishment and penalty” against him if found “guilty to
all the above charges, “fully protect” his civil rights, and “restore its Integrity and strictly follow
the U.S. Local and Federal Civil and Criminal Procedure Laws!” (Compl. 3.)
For the reasons set forth below, the Court, sua sponte, dismisses, with prejudice, Mr.
Xu’s Complaint against Magistrate Judge Arpert on the grounds of judicial immunity.
This matter stems from two rather arduous civil actions—one terminated and one
currently pending—before the Honorable Peter G. Sheridan, U.S.D.J., and Magistrate Judge
Arpert. In the first-filed action, Huafeng Xu v. Farkhanda Naqvi and Michelle Buskett, No. 127844, Mr. Xu brought suit against two IRS employees alleging that they violated his
constitutional rights by yelling at him and escorting him out of a meeting concerning his 2009
and 2010 income tax liabilities, and by making up Notices of Deficiencies for 2009 and 2010.
Mr. Xu’s Complaint was eventually dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction and his failure to state a
claim, but not before he filed a number of motions challenging the defendants’ filings as
improper because the attorneys included two backslashes in their electronic signature and the
Court’s decisions in connection with his various motions. Although Mr. Xu appealed the Court’s
decision dismissing his case with prejudice, the Court’s decision was affirmed on appeal.
Mr. Xu then filed a second civil action, styled as Huafeng Xu v. Kathryn Keneally and
Melissa L. Dickey, No. 12-4026. In that case, Mr. Xu alleged, inter alia, that Ms. Keneally and
Ms. Dickey, the attorneys who represented the defendants in the previously filed action, wasted
his time by signing various filings with an additional “/”. Mr. Xu sought $2 million in damages
from Ms. Keneally and Ms. Dickey. Again, Mr. Xu inundated the Court with various filings
including a motion to reassign the case, a motion “to stop certain violations”, a motion to
“investigate, stop and prosecute Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Arpert” for obstructing justice, a
motion to have Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle hear certain matters, and finally an application
to have Magistrate Judge Arpert disqualified from the case. That matter is still pending.
On January 6, 2014, Mr. Xu filed the instant civil action against Magistrate Judge Arpert
alleging that he “has been obstructing the Court Justice by violating Local Civil and Criminal
Rules at this Court, and the Federal Civil and Criminal Procedure Rules since December 2012”
with regard to Civil Action Nos. 12-7844 and 13-4026, and has therefore been “violating all the
civil rights of Huafeng Xu”. The Court now turns to the merits of Mr. Xu’s third suit.
The Court has the power to dismiss claims sua sponte under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Bintliff-Ritchie v. Am. Reinsurance Co., 285 F.
App’x 940, 930 (3d Cir. 2008) (citing Bryson v. Brand Insulations, Inc., 621 F.2d 556, 559 (3d
Cir. 1980)). When evaluating a motion to dismiss, “courts accept all factual allegations as true,
construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under
any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief.” Fowler v.
UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). In other words, a complaint is sufficient if
it contains enough factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). It is not for courts to decide at this point whether the moving party will succeed
on the merits, but “whether they should be afforded an opportunity to offer evidence in support
of their claims.” In re Rockefeller Ctr. Prop., Inc., 311 F.3d 198, 215 (3d Cir. 2002). Also, legal
conclusions and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere
conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
Where, as here, a plaintiff seeks monetary relief from a judicial officer, the doctrine of
judicial immunity is implicated. Judicial immunity rests on the principle that “[a] judicial officer
in the performance of his duties has absolute immunity from suit and will not be liable for
judicial acts.” Azubuko v. Royal, 443 F.3d 302, 303 (3d Cir. 2006). Further, “[a] judge will not
be deprived of immunity because the action he took was in error, was done maliciously, or was
in excess of his authority; rather, he will be subject to liability only when he has acted in the
clear absence of all jurisdiction.” Id. (citing Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356–57 (1978)
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted)).
Here, all of the allegations in Mr. Xu’s complaint relate to actions taken by Magistrate
Judge Arpert in his capacity as a Magistrate Judge presiding over Mr. Xu’s civil actions against
Farkhanda Naqvi and Michelle Buskett, (Docket No. 12-7844), and Kathryn Keneally and
Melissa Dickey, (Docket No. 13-4026). Mr. Xu has not set forth any facts that Magistrate Judge
Arpert’s allegedly improper actions were performed outside his official capacity or in the
absence of his jurisdiction. Therefore, judicial immunity applies and will shield Magistrate
Judge Arpert from Mr. Xu’s claim for monetary relief. See McKnight v. Bryant, No. 09-5128,
2009 WL 3681908, at *4 (D.N.J. Nov. 2, 2009) (dismissing plaintiff’s claims against Judge
Famular with prejudice where there was “no suggestion that Judge Famular’s allegedly improper
actions were performed outside of her official capacity or in the absence of jurisdiction” such
that judicial immunity should not apply).
Further, Mr. Xu’s additional demands that the Court investigate and prosecute Magistrate
Judge Arpert for any crimes he may have committed are barred by separation of powers. The
power to launch prosecutions remains within the purview of the Executive Branch, not this
Court. See Carter v. All Dist. Fed. Judges USA, No. 11-2198, 2011 WL 1706093, at *4 (D.N.J.
May 4, 2011).
Accordingly, because Mr. Xu has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted,
his Complaint will be dismissed, with prejudice.
For the reasons stated above, the Court will dismiss, with prejudice, Mr. Xu’s Complaint
against Magistrate Judge Arpert. An appropriate order shall issue today.
/s/ Robert B. Kugler
ROBERT B. KUGLER
United States District Judge
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