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Chernoff v. Carter

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

May 10, 2018

LEE JOSEPH CHERNOFF, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM LEE CARTER et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF DISMISSAL

          WILLIAM P JOHNSON, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Complaints for Civil Rights Violations filed in the consolidated cases referenced above.

         Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, initiated six cases on May 2, 2018 against various Defendants. Because the Complaints in each of the cases contain identical factual allegations, the Court consolidated the cases. In addition to his civil rights claims, the Complaints assert general conspiracy claims and claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968.

         Conspiracy Claims

         The Court dismisses the conspiracy claims against all Defendants for failure to state a claim. Plaintiff makes several conclusory allegations that “Judge Strother conspir[ed] with [Defendants]” but does not allege specific facts showing an agreement and concerted action amongst the defendants. Complaint ¶ 66 at 9, ¶ 102 at 11-12, ¶ 112 at 12-13, ¶ 154 at 16. “[C]onclusory allegations without supporting factual averments are insufficient to state a claim on which relief can be based . . . [and] in analyzing the sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint, the court need accept as true only the plaintiff's well-pleaded factual contentions, not his conclusory allegations.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991).

         Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) Claims

         The Court dismisses Plaintiff's claims against Defendants pursuant to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968. RICO allows for criminal penalties, see 18 U.S.C. § 1963, and civil remedies, see 18 U.S.C. § 1964(c). The Court dismisses Plaintiff's claims for criminal penalties because “a private citizen lacks a judicially cognizable interest in the prosecution or nonprosecution of another.” Diamond v. Charles, 476 U.S. 54, 64 (1986). The Court dismisses Plaintiff's RICO claims for civil remedies due to Plaintiff's lack of standing to bring a RICO claim because Plaintiff has not alleged that he was injured in his business or property by reason of Defendants' alleged violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962. See Gilmor v. Thomas, 490 F.3d 791, 797 (10th Cir. 2007) (“a plaintiff has standing to bring a RICO claim only if he was injured in his business or property by reason of the defendant's violation of § 1962”); Dias v. City and County of Denver, 567 F.3d 1169, 1176 (10th Cir. 2009) (standing is a component of this Court's jurisdiction, and the Court has an obligation “to consider it sua sponte to ensure the existence of an Article III case or controversy”).

         Chernoff v. Carter, No. 18cv417, and Chernoff v. Marks, No. 18cv418

         Plaintiff was a party to proceedings in McLennan County Court in Texas. Defendant Carter is a “McLennan County Court P[sych]ologist, ” and Defendant Marks is a “McLennan County Court Psychiatrist.” Complaints at 1. Plaintiff makes the general allegation that Defendants Carter and Marks “[r]epeatedly found the Plaintiff incompetent to stand trial with no proof positive, ” and “[r]ecommended intake to North Texas State Hospital for Premeditated Attempted Murder under the guise of Competency Training.” Complaint ¶ 19(D) at 4. Plaintiff later alleges that Defendants Carter and Marks “recommend[ed] the Plaintiff go back to North Texas State Psychiatric Hospital for Premeditated Attempted Murder under the guise competency education.” Chernoff v. Carter Complaint ¶ 138; Chernoff v. Marks Complaint ¶ 137. There are no other substantive factual allegations regarding Defendants Carter and Marks.

         The Court dismisses the civil rights claims against Defendants Carter and Marks for failure to state a claim. The only substantive allegations against Defendants Carter and Marks are that they found Plaintiff incompetent to stand trial and recommended that Plaintiff be admitted to North Texas State Hospital. Those allegations, without more, are not sufficient to state a claim for deprivation of rights secured by the Constitution or federal laws. Furthermore, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants are a “Court Psychologist” and a “Court Psychiatrist.” Complaint ¶ 5 at 1. Defendants are therefore immune from monetary damages claims. See Sawyer v. Gorman, 317 Fed.Appx. 725, 728 (10th Cir. 2008) (“[I]mmunity which derives from judicial immunity may extend to persons other than a judge where performance of judicial acts or activity as an official aid of the judge is involved. 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”).

         Chernoff v. Strother, No. 18cv419

         Defendant Strother is a McLennan County Court Judge. See Complaint ¶¶ 3-4. Plaintiff makes the general allegations that Defendant:

1. Supported False Charges and Manufactured False Charges.
2. Repeatedly ordered the Plaintiff to be Falsely Imprisoned in ...

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