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Priestley v. Two Houses in Buckeye

United States District Court, D. Arizona

April 10, 2017

John Priestley, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
Two houses in Buckeye, Maricopa County, AZ, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          David G. Campbell United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff John Priestley, Jr., apparently as a beneficiary of the John Priestley, Sr. Trust, filed his complaint in this case on November 28, 2016. Doc. 1. On January 30, 2017, the Court screened Plaintiff's complaint, entered an order dismissing the complaint for failure to state a claim, and granted Plaintiff until February 24, 2017 to file an amended complaint. Doc. 12. The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's amended complaint and will dismiss it for failure to state a claim, failure to follow Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and failure to follow this Court's order of January 30, 2017. Id. Plaintiff has also filed a motion to order the U.S. Marshal to serve Plaintiff's complaint. Doc. 15. The Court will deny the motion without prejudice.

         I. Legal Standard.

         In IFP proceedings, a district court “shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action . . . fails to state a claim on which relief can be granted[.]” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). While much of § 1915 concerns prisoner litigation, § 1915(e) applies to all IFP proceedings. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126 n.7 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). “Section 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) . . . allows a district court to dismiss[] sua sponte . . . a complaint that fails to state a claim[.]” Id. at 1130. “It is also clear that section 1915(e) not only permits but requires a district court to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint that fails to state a claim.” Id. at 1127. A district court dismissing a case under this section “should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts.” Id. at 1127-29 (citations omitted).

         II. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint.

         Plaintiff's claims appear to be focused on two houses in Buckeye, Arizona, that previously were held in the John Priestly, Sr. Trust. Plaintiff sues the Internal Revenue Service, the Public Integrity Section of the United Sates Department of Justice, three judges, some attorneys, and others. His 21-page complaint contains a rambling narrative that appears to allege various wrongs committed by Defendants, including violations of various state and federal statutes. The complaint also describes a case, apparently filed in Cleveland County, Oklahoma, where Plaintiff claims to have received a default judgment against some party, labeled “Trustee, ” and Plaintiff now seeks an execution of that judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 69. Plaintiff makes additional requests from the Court, including that the Court require an accounting of the trust, a criminal investigation, and other forms of relief that are not clear.

         Plaintiff alleges a number of facts in his amended complaint, but most are incomplete and fail to either identify the actor or provide needed context. Furthermore, the complaint frequently fails to connect Plaintiff's alleged facts to his claims. Plaintiff also includes several attachments in his complaint, and occasionally cites them. These attachments include legal documents filed in a state court in Oklahoma, excerpts of testimony, news article on an Oklahoma state judge, internet comments reacting to the article, photocopied checks, an unauthenticated letter from Randi Jo Haley, as well as a number of financial documents, diagrams, and hand written charts.

         The Court has carefully reviewed the complaint, and finds it defective. The amended complaint fails to state the basis for this Court's jurisdiction, the legal nature of Plaintiff's claim, or the actions of Defendants that give rise to liability.

         A. Rule 8.

         As an initial matter, the Court finds that the entire complaint may be dismissed under Rule 8. That rule provides that a complaint should contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “Each allegation must be simple, concise, and direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1). A complaint that fails to comply with these requirements may be dismissed. See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1179-80 (9th Cir. 1996).

         Plaintiff fails to allege specific facts showing how each Defendant violated the particular right at issue in a given count. Plaintiff scatters facts throughout the complaint and includes allegations that seem irrelevant. The Court will therefore dismiss the complaint with leave to file a second amended complaint.

         B. Immune Parties.

         Plaintiff sues three judges. Specifically, Plaintiff states that “[t]hree Judges have an affirmative duty under 58 O.S. 234 Chapter 3 that is not discretionary, and have repeatedly refused to use the statutory tools at their disposal to compel the accounting or prevent or remedy damages caused by third parties in their courts.” Doc. 13 at 18. As best the Court can surmise, Plaintiff alleges that Oklahoma judges ordered an accounting of the trust in question and have not fulfilled their duty to enforce the order.

         The Court need not sift through more because each judge in question is entitled to judicial immunity for decision made in the adjudication of cases. Forrester v. White, 484 U.S. 219, 227 (1988) (“When applied to the paradigmatic judicial acts involved in resolving disputes between parties who have invoked the jurisdiction of a court, the doctrine of absolute judicial immunity has not been particularly controversial.”) Because each violation Plaintiff alleges against these judges stems from a decision made from the bench, Plaintiff's claims may not stand.

         C. ...


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