Kruskal v. Chanler et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER by District Judge William P. Johnson DENYING 8 Second Motion for Reconsideration. (mag)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO
No. 17cv112 WJ/WPL
KATHY CHANLER and
BERNABE P. STRUCK,
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
DENYING SECOND MOTION TO RECONSIDER
THIS MATTER comes before the Court on pro se Plaintiff’s Second Motion to
Reconsider, Doc. 8, filed March 14, 2017.
Plaintiff sued Defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violating his civil right to due
process. See Complaint at 4. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants, both of whom are clerks for the
Eighth Judicial District Court in Taos, New Mexico, did not give Plaintiff notice of the state
district court’s final decision against him, which caused Plaintiff to miss the deadline for filing an
appeal. See Complaint at 1-3.
The Court dismissed this case with prejudice because Defendants Chanler and Struck were
acting as official aides of the state district judge and, therefore, are absolutely immune from
Plaintiff’s damages claims. See Mem. Op. and Order, Doc. 4, filed January 25, 2017.
Plaintiff filed his first Motion to Reconsider contending that the Defendants do not have
immunity because they “committed gross negligence” by taking “independent action, without
permission from the judge. They did not follow the laws. They did not follow their own rules.”
Motion to Reconsider at 2, Doc. 6, filed February 2, 2017. The Court denied Plaintiff’s first
Motion for Reconsideration because he had not shown any manifest errors of law or presented any
newly discovered evidence. See Doc. 7, filed March 6, 2017. Plaintiff did not cite any legal
authority for his proposition that Defendants cannot have immunity because they were grossly
negligent. The Court also noted that Plaintiff’s proposition is contrary to established case law.
See Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356–57 (1978) (articulating broad immunity rule that 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”); Sawyer v. Gorman, 317 Fed.Appx. 725, 728 (10th
Cir. 2008) (“Absolute judicial immunity has thus been extended to non-judicial officers, like
clerks of court, where their duties had an integral relationship with the judicial process”).
Plaintiff subsequently filed his Second Motion to Reconsider which is now before the
Court. Plaintiff argues that granting clerks immunity for their mistakes does not serve the public
good and asks this Court to reverse its decision stating:
“Making the clerks personally
responsible (at least just this once) will pressure the New Mexico upper courts to correct an unfair
law, which should read, ‘In the event of clerk error, the statu[t]e is tolled.’” Second Motion to
Reconsider at 3.
The Court denies Plaintiff’s Second Motion to Reconsider for the same reasons it denied
his first Motion to Reconsider. Plaintiff has not shown any manifest errors of law or presented
any newly discovered evidence to justify reconsideration, and has not cited any legal authority for
his proposition that Defendants should not have immunity. The Court understands Plaintiff’s
frustration over the proceedings in state court, however, this Court cannot grant Plaintiff the relief
he seeks. Plaintiff asks this Court for a ruling contrary to established case law from the Supreme
Court of the United States and the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. United
States Judges swear that they will perform all the duties incumbent upon them under the
Constitution and the laws of the United States.
See 28 U.S.C. § 453, Oaths of justices and
judges; Adamson v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 745 F.2d 541, 546 (9th Cir. 1984)
(“Federal courts cannot countenance deliberate violations of basic constitutional rights. To do so
would violate our judicial oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States.”). The laws of the
United States include the case law of the Supreme Court of the United States and the United States
Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in which this District sits. The Court cannot and will not
issue a ruling that is clearly contrary to case law from the Supreme Court of the United States and
the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Simply stated, the undersigned U.S.
District Judge does not have the authority to grant to Plaintiff the relief he is requesting. That was
the situation when the Court dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint, that was the situation when the Court
denied Plaintiff’s Motion to Reconsider and since the law the Court is required to follow has not
changed, this is the situation regarding Plaintiff’s Second Motion to Reconsider.
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Second Motion to Reconsider, Doc. 8, filed March 14,
2017, is DENIED for the same reasons the Court denied Plaintiff’s First Motion to Reconsider and
for the same reasons the Court dismissed Plaintiff’s Complaint.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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