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Blackburn Calhoun Opinion

Blackburn Calhoun Opinion

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Published by Roger Shuler
Opinion in Joseph Blackburn's lawsuit alleging corruption in Alabama divorce courts based on cases being fixed through a hunting club.
Opinion in Joseph Blackburn's lawsuit alleging corruption in Alabama divorce courts based on cases being fixed through a hunting club.

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Published by: Roger Shuler on Feb 08, 2012
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11/05/2013

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FILED
UNITEDSTATESDISTRICTCOURTNORTHERNDISTRICTOFALABAMASOUTHERNDIVISIONJOSEPHW.BLACKBURN,RepresentativePlaintiffandotherpersonssimilarlysituated,ThePlaintiffClass,Plaintiffs,
v.
207CV166
JOHNC.CALHOUN,
etai.,
Defendants.
ORDER
I.
INTRODUCTION
InthisRICO-based,
l
class-actioncaseplaintiffandAlabamaattorneyJosephW.BlackburnoriginallyaccusedaformerAlabamastatecourtjudgeof,
interalia,
conspiringwithotherstoruna"goodolewhitebQYS'club"aimedatensuringthatonlywhitemales,totheexclusionofeveryoneelse,wouldruntheJeffersonCounty,Alabamacircuitcourtsystem.Doc.
#
1~28.Other"RICOenterprise"aimswereto:(a)streamillegalbenefitstoany"club"judges;(b)inflateattorneyfeeawards--attheexpenseofhaplesslitigants--toclublawyers;and(c)defraudthepublic,specificallywomenandminorities,bykeepingtheclubsecretfromthemwhileinsidersbenefittedfromfavorablejudicialtreatment.
[d.~~
28-31.Theseallegationswere,tosaytheleast,dramatic,inflammatoryandwide-ranging.Theywereimmediatelymetwithstridentoppositionfilingspointingoutthatplaintiffissimplyseekingvengeanceagainstthestatecourtjudgewhopresidedoverhisdivorcefromalocalfederaldistrictjudge(whytheundersigned,non-localjudge,wasassignedthiscase,doc.#7).
I
TheRacketeerInfluencedandCorruptOrganizations
Act,18U.S.C.§1962.
2008Mar-04PM02:50U.S.DISTRICTCOURTN.D.OFALABAMA
See,e.g.,
doc.#8at4("Blackburn'scomplaintistotallylackinginmeritandisnothingmorethanthe
.vitriolic
diatribeofadisgruntledlitigantagainstthejudgewhoheardhiscase")(quotesandciteomitted);doc.
#
12at2("Blackburnhassuedhisownlawyer,aformerdomesticrelationsjudge,opposingcounselinhisdivorce,andevenaprominentmemberoftheBirminghamBarwhopracticesdomesticrelationslaw,butwhohadnothingtodowithhisdivorce,inadesperateattempttolashoutforthejudgmententeredinhisdivorcecase").Ofcourse,judicialcorruptionisnotunheard
of.
SeeGuest
v.
McCann,
474F.3d926,929(7thCir.2007)("OperationGreylorduncoveredextensivecorruptionintheIllinoiscourts,includingbribesbeingpaidtomultiplejudgesinexchangefordismissals");
Dalton
v.
Smith,
2005WL3455866at
*
In.2(N.D.Ill.12/16/06)(unpublished)("[I]n1993,federalprosecutorsconvicted[ajudge]ofconspiracy,racketeering,extortion,andobstructingjusticethrough'OperationGreylord,'afederalinvestigationintojudicialcorruptionintheCircuitCourtofCookCounty,Illinois");
McGreal
v.
Ostrov,
227F.Supp.2d939,944n.1(N.D.Ill.2002)("OperationGreylord...ledtotheprosecutionsandconvictionsofnumerouslawyersandjudges");http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dynlcontent/article/2007
106/051
AR2007060502453.html(siteasof
3/4/08)
("Anex-judgewhoacceptedexpensivegiftsinexchangeforhelpingfixdivorcecasesandaformerstatelawmakerconvictedinaschemetoshakedownajudicialcandidateweresentencedtoprisonTuesday").NorisBlackburnthefirstdivorcetoallegesuchcorruptionina
prose
RICOcase.
Davit
v.
Davit,
173Fed.Appx.515,517(7thCif.2006)
(Rooker-Faldman
doctrinedidnotbarformerhusband'sRICOactionagainsthisformerwife,herattorney,statejudgesandothersinvolvedinhisstatedivorceproceedings,whoallegedly
 
\.
conspiredtodenyhimanhonesttribunal;formerhusbandraisedclaimsofjudicialcorruptionthatwenttotheheartoftheadministrationandresolutionofhisdivorceproceedings)(citing
Loubserv.Thacker,440
F.3d439,440-41(7thCir.2006)(althoughhighlyimprobable,allegationsofcivilrightsconspiracycomplaint,allegingthatdivorcee'sex-husbandandothersconsortedwithjudgetoobtainjudgmentthatdeprivedherofpropertyinviolationofdueprocessoflaw,werenotsofantasticastopermitdismissalofcomplaintasfrivolous;allegationsincludeddestructionoftitledocumentsandotherrecords,alterationoftranscriptsbyplaintiff'sownattorneys,andunsupportedallegationsofsocializingbetweenjudgeandothersideindivorcecase».Inanyevent,variousdefendantsrespondedwithsummary-dispositionandF.R.Civ.P.11motions.Doc.
#
8(motionforsummaryjudgment(MSJ»;#10(motiontodismiss);#11(motiontodismiss);#12(motiontodismiss);#14(motionforsanctions);
seealso
doc.#22(motiontoamend/correctmotion#14);
#
23(motiontoamend/correctmotiontodismiss#10);
#
24(motiontoamend/correctmotion#11);#36(motionforsanctions).Inlightofthenatureoftheallegationsanddismissal/sanctionmotions,theCourtgrantedadefensemotiontostaydiscoverypendingdispositionofsame.Doc.##15,16.TheCourtalsoincorporatedsomeoftheSouthernDistrictofGeorgia's"LocalRulesintotheseproceedings,includingS.D.Ga.Loc.R.7.1(b)
&
7.5(theyforcelitigantstosupportallfactualassertionswithcitationtotherecord,andeitherrespondtoeachmotionorhaveitdeemedunopposed).Doc.#19at1-2.
2
TheundersignedisfromthatDistrict.
And,toeliminate"fluffingandpuffing"fromthiscase,theCourtalsoremindedallpartiesofthesummaryjudgmentrules.
ld.
at2.Finally,theCourtappliedtheliberalreplybriefpolicyasexplainedin
Patteev.GeorgiaPortsAuthority,
477F.Supp.2d1272,1274-75(S.D.Ga.2007).
ld.
Thus,noonecancomplainthattheydidnothaveachancetosaywhattheyneeded
to.
sayhere.Plaintiffrespondedtothedismissal-basedmotionsbyamendinghisComplaintunderF.R.Civ.P.15(a).Doc.#31.Thatfetchedanotherroundofdismissalmotions.Doc.#55(motiontodismiss);#56(motiontodismiss,alternativeMSJ);#57(motiontodismiss);#60(motiontodismiss,alternatively,MSJ).Miscellaneousmotionsalsoremainpending.Doc.#3(discovery);##68,69(motionstostrikearesponsebrief),II.GOVERNINGSTANDARDSBeforesettingforththefactualallegationstobeanalyzedhere,theCourtwillreviewtheF.R.Civ.P.12(b)(6)dismissal,F.R.Civ.P.56summary-judgment,andRICOstandards,astheyallaffect
how
thoseallegationsareviewedhere(somedefensemotionsinvokeRule12,whileothersinvokeRule56).A.PleadingStandardsMuchoftheAmendedComplaintreadslikeabrief,thusviolatingF.R.Civ.P.8(a)(2)'s"shortandplainstatement"commandandF.R.Civ.P.1OCb)'commandthatapartystatehisclaim"innumberedparagraphs,eachlimitedasfaraspracticabletoa
single
setofcircumstances."Rule10(b)(emphasisadded).'
SeeDavisv.
3
Theseruleswereamendedeffective
12/1107,
thoughBlackburnfiledtheinstantpleadingbeforethatdate.
2
 
CocaColaBottlingCo.Consol.,_
F.3d_,2008WL314962at
*
12(l1thCir.2/6/08)(highlightingaRule1O(b)violation).And,while
prose
plaintiffslike
Blackburn"
areconstitutionallyguaranteedaccesstothecourts,
BillJohnson'sRestaurants,Inc.
v.
NLRB.
461U.S.731,741(1983),andareotherwiseentitledtohavetheirpleadingsconstruedliberally,
Sanders
v.
US.,
113F.3d184,187(11thCir.1997),theyneverthelessmustabidebytherules.
Moon
v.
Newsome,
863
F.2d835,837
(llthCir.1989)("[O]nceaprose
litigantisincourt,heissubjecttotherelevantlawandrulesofcourt,includingtheFederalRulesofCivilProcedure");
Lemons
v.
Lewis,
969F.Supp.657,659(D.Kan.1997)
(prose
statusdoesnotabsolvelitigantofdutytocomplywithfundamentalproceduralrules).
B.MotionToDismissStandards
ARule12(b)(6)motiongenerallyforcesaCourttoacceptallegedfactsastrue.ThatrulepivotsonRule8(a)(2).UnderRule8(a)(2),oneneedpresentonlyashortandplainstatementofclaimsshowingentitlementtorelief.Aplaintiffthusmustpleadenoughto"givethedefendant[s]fairnoticeofwhattheclaimisandthegroundsuponwhichitrests"
Bell
Atl.Corp.v.Twombly,
127S.Ct.1955,1964(2007).
Pre-Twombly,
Rule8(a)(2)-pleadedclaimscouldonlybedismissedwhentheplaintiffcouldprove"nosetoffacts"thatwouldentitlehimtorelief.
Conley
v,
Gibson,
355U.S.41,45-46(1957).
However,thesubstanceofeachrule,asapplicablehere,didnotchange.
4
Heisrepresented
by
counsel
only
todefendagainsttheRule11sanctionmotionsagainsthim.Doc.#20.
Twombly
"retired"that"nosetoffacts"standard.
Twombly,
127S.Ct.at1969.Now,acomplaintmustprovide"morethanlabelsandconclusions,andaformulaicrecitationoftheelementsofacauseofactionwillnotdo."
Id.
at1964-65(citationomitted);
AssociationofClevelandFireFighters
v.
CityofCleveland,Ohio,
502F.3d545,548(6thCir.2007).Thus,"[fjactualallegationsmustbeenoughtoraisetherighttorelief
above
thespeculativelevel,ontheassumptionthatalltheallegationsinthecomplaintaretrue...."
Twombly,
127
S.Ct.at1965(citationsomitted;emphasisadded).
SeealsoDavis.
2008WL314962at
*
8;
Mills
v,
ForemostIns.Co.,
511F.3d1300,1303(11thCir.2008);
Weissman
v.
NASD,500
F.3d1293,1303(lithCir.2007)(enbane)(Pryor,J.,concurringinpartanddissentinginpart)(suggestingthatthedistrictcourtmayneedtorevisitthepleadingsbecausethe
Twombly
decisionrejectedthenotionthatpleadingsmayrelyon"thepossibilitythataplaintiffmightlaterestablishsomesetofundisclosedfactstosupportrecovery")(quotes,citesandalterationsomitted).Accordingly,whilenoticepleadingmaynotrequirethatthepleaderallegeaspecificfacttocovereveryelementorallegewithprecisioneachelementofaclaim,itisstillnecessarythatacomplaintcontaineitherdirectorinferentialallegationsrespecting
all
thematerialelementsnecessarytosustainarecoveryundersomeviablelegaltheory.
FinancialSec.Assur.,Inc.v.Stephens,Inc.,500
F.3d1276,1282-83(11thCir.2007)(quotesandcitesomitted;emphasisadded).Finally,ithaslongbeentherulethat"conclusoryallegationsandunwarranted3

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