United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss and Plaintiffs' motion for clarification. Dkt. ##
reasons below, the Court GRANTS
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. Dkt. # 16. The Court also
DENIES as moot Plaintiff's motion for
clarification. Dkt. # 10.
allegations in Plaintiffs' complaint stem from a
contested traffic hearing that occurred on April 7, 2017.
Dkt. # 1-1. Plaintiffs claim that during the hearing Judge
Pro Tem Anderson indicated support for the
officer's report of the traffic stop and knowingly made
additional statements about Plaintiff Donald Henderson's
conduct during the event. Plaintiffs claim that Judge
Anderson's statements about Mr. Henderson were of the
type that constitute elder abuse. Id. at 2.
Plaintiffs further claim that this hearing was unprecedented,
illegal and personal as Judge Anderson did not permit
Plaintiffs to put forth a defense to rebut her understanding
of the events. Id. at 3.
bring this action arguing that several of their
constitutional rights were violated. Id. at 2.
Specifically, plaintiffs claim Judge Anderson violated their
rights to an impartial jury, to confront witnesses, to speedy
trial, to have witnesses appear, and to equal protection
under the law. Id.
Motion to Dismiss Under Rule 12(b)(6)
12(b)(6) requires the court to assume the truth of the
complaint's factual allegations and credit all reasonable
inferences arising from those allegations. Sanders v.
Brown, 504 F.3d 903, 910 (9th Cir. 2007). The plaintiff
must point to factual allegations that “state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 568 (2007). If the
plaintiff succeeds, the complaint avoids dismissal if there
is “any set of facts consistent with the allegations in
the complaint” that would entitle the plaintiff to
relief. Id. at 563; Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 679 (2009) (“When there are well-pleaded
factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and
then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an
entitlement to relief.”). The court typically cannot
consider evidence beyond the four corners of the complaint,
although it may rely on a document to which the complaint
refers if the document is central to the party's claims
and its authenticity is not in question. Marder v.
Lopez, 450 F.3d 445, 448 (9th Cir. 2006). The court may
also consider evidence subject to judicial notice. United
States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2003).
Plaintiffs are pro se, the court must construe the
complaint liberally when evaluating it under the
Iqbal standard. See Johnson v. Lucent Techs.,
Inc., 653 F.3d 1000, 1011 (9th Cir. 2011). Although the
court holds the pleadings of pro se plaintiffs to
“less stringent standards than those of licensed
attorneys, ” Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
520 (1972), “those pleadings nonetheless must meet some
minimum threshold in providing a defendant with notice of
what it is that it allegedly did wrong.” Brazil v.
U.S. Dep't of the Navy, 66 F.3d 193, 199
(9th Cir. 1995). Accordingly, the court should “not
supply essential elements of the claim that were not
initially pled.” Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union
Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997).
Nevertheless, “[l]eave to amend should be granted
unless the pleading could not possibly be cured by the
allegation of other facts, and should be granted more
liberally to pro se plaintiffs.”
McQuillion v. Schwarzenegger, 369 F.3d 1091, 1099
(9th Cir. 2004) (quoting Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d
850, 861 (9th Cir. 2003)) (internal quotation marks omitted).
construing Plaintiffs' complaint liberally, the Court
finds it proper to grant Defendant's motion. All of the
alleged conduct complained about here occurred while Judge
Anderson presided in open court. Dkt. # 1-1 at 1.
“Judges are immune from suit arising out of their
judicial acts, without regard to the motives with which their
judicial acts are performed, and notwithstanding such acts
may have been performed in excess of jurisdiction, provided
there was not a clear absence of all jurisdiction over the
subject matter.” Sires v. Cole, 320 F.2d 877,
879 (9th Cir. 1963); see also Stump v. Sparkman, 435
U.S. 349, 356-57 (1978) (explaining 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).
Because Plaintiffs allege here that Judge Anderson was
carrying out duties related to the judicial process (namely,
presiding over a contested hearing), she is entitled to
leave to amend a complaint should be freely given following
an order of dismissal, unless it is absolutely clear that the
deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by
amendment.” Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122,
1127 (9th Cir. 2000) (internal citations omitted). Because
all of the acts complained about here occurred while Judge
Anderson presided in court, there are no viable alternative
claims for this set of facts where relief could be granted.
DeSoto v. Yellow Freight Sys., Inc., 957 F.2d 655,
658 (9th Cir. 1992) (“A district court does not err in
denying leave to amend where the amendment would be
futile.”). Accordingly, the Court
GRANTS Defendant's motion without leave