United States District Court, D. Delaware
November 14, 2016, the Plaintiff, Weih Steve Chang
("Plaintiff'), initiated this action against The
Honorable Leo E. Strine, Jr., The Honorable James T. Vaughn,
Jr., and the State of Delaware, ("Defendants")
alleging what the court believes to be violations of the
Equal Protection Clause pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
(D.I. I.) Presently before the court is
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a
Claim, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
(D.I. 4.) The court will grant Defendants' Motion.
27, 2016, Plaintiff filed a civil Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organizations ("RICO") Act action in the
Superior Court of Delaware alleging sexual molestation by a
judicial officer on behalf of hundreds of alleged victims.
(D.I. 1, ¶ 2.) The RICO action was bifurcated from a
civil action originally filed in the Court of Chancery of
Delaware on October 22, 2017. (D.I. 1, ¶¶ 4-5.) The
Chancery Court dismissed the action "primarily because
Plaintiff is not an attorney." Id. Plaintiff
alleges that on October 21, 2016, Defendant Justice Vaughn
"denied Plaintiffs Petition [for legal representation]
without performing the "Matthews Test" or
the "Tabron Test" and on November 6, 2016,
Defendant Chief Justice Strine "ordered that Plaintiff
submit his opening brief by November 14, 2016, without legal
representation." (D.I. 1, ¶¶ 20-23.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for
dismissal where the plaintiff "fail[s] to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). In considering a motion to dismiss, the court
"accept[s] all factual allegations as true, construe[s]
the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,
and determine[s] whether, under any reasonable reading of the
complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief."
Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233
(3d Or. 2008). A Plaintiff must provide sufficient factual
allegations "to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Bell Ail. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). This requirement of
plausibility is satisfied when "the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). "Determining whether
a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will... be a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to
draw on its judicial experience and common sense."
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).
argue that Plaintiffs action arising from the Defendants'
failure "to perform the Matthews Test and/or
the Tabron Test on Plaintiffs Petition for
Court-Appointed Counsel" should be dismissed for
failure to state a claim, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). (D.I.
4); (D.I. 1, ¶ 26.)Defendants argue that Plaintiff fails to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted for at least
two reasons. (D.I. 4.) First, Defendants allege that the
Complaint expressly acknowledges that there is a pending
state court appeal relating to Plaintiffs instant claim.
Id. at 2. Second, Defendants argue that the claims
are otherwise barred by absolute judicial immunity and
qualified immunity. Id.The court agrees.
state a claim under Section 1983, Plaintiff must show
"(1) that the conduct complained of was committed by a
person acting under color of state law; and (2) that the
conduct deprived the plaintiff of rights, privileges, or
immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States." Schneyder v. Smith, 653 F.3d 313, 319
(3d Cir. 2011). Plaintiff does not plead any conduct
relating to the State of Delaware in his Complaint and,
therefore, the claim against the State is frivolous and
devoid of any merit. (D.I. 1.) Because there are no facts to
support any claim against the State of Delaware, the
court will grant Defendants' motion as to the
Plaintiffs sole assertion against Chief Justice Leo E.
Strine, Jr., and Justice James T. Vaughn, Jr. is that they
violated the Due Process Clause by "refusing to perform
the Matthews Test and/or the Tabron Test on
Plaintiffs Petition for Court-appointed Counsel."
(D.I. 1, ¶ 26.)Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, and
compensatory damages for the expenses accumulated during
litigation. (D.I. 1 at 5-6.)
officers are immune from damage suits arising out of their
official duties. Stump v. Sparhnan, 435 U.S. 349
(1978). "A judge will not be deprived of immunity
because the action he took was in error, was done
maliciously, or was in excess of authority. ..."
Sparhnan, 435 U.S. at 356. Judicial immunity may
only be overcome in limited circumstances when: (i) the
challenged actions were not taken in the judge's judicial
capacity; or (ii) the challenged actions, "though
judicial in nature, were taken in the complete absence of all
jurisdiction." Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9,
11-12 (1991). Although the Supreme Court has held that a
cause of action for injunctive relief may be maintained
against judicial officers or the federal government, see
Larson v. Domestic & Foreign Commerce Corp., 337
U.S. 682 (1949), immunity principles still apply, and, except
in very limited circumstances, judges are immune from suits
for injunctive relief. See Rush v. Wiseman, 2010 WL
1705299 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 27, 2010) (judge's immunity from
civil liability can only be overcome for non-judicial actions
and where actions of judicial nature are taken in the
"complete absence of all jurisdiction."); Klein
v. U.S. Bank, 2010 WL 5018881 (M.D. Pa. Nov. 15, 2010).
Congress amended 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to provide that
"injunctive relief shall not be granted" in an
action brought against a judicial official for an act or
omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity unless
a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was
unavailable. Azubuko v. Royal, 443 F.3d 302, 304 (3d
Cir. 2006) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 1983;, - 42 U.S.C. §
1983 (abrogating in part Pulliam v. Allen, 466 U.S.
522, 541-42 (1984) (holding judicial immunity is not a bar to
prospective injunctive relief against a judge acting in her
Plaintiffs factual allegations are based solely on the
judicial actions taken by Defendants. While Plaintiff
disagrees with the decision-making process, nothing in
Plaintiffs complaint can be interpreted as an allegation that
any of the Defendants acted outside of their judicial
functions or in the clear absence of jurisdiction. Even if
these rulings were in error or in excess of authority, there
is no plausible allegation that they were undertaken without
appropriate jurisdiction. The court will, therefore, grant
Defendants' motion as to Defendants Chief Justice Leo E.
Strine, Jr., and Justice James T. Vaughn, Jr.