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Jones v. Louisiana Supreme Court

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

March 29, 2017

HERSY JONES, JR.
v.
LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT, ET AL.

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE HORNSBY

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          S. MAURICE HICKS, Jk. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are several Rule 12(b)(1), 12(b)(5), and 12(b)(6) Motions to Dismiss Plaintiff Hersy Jones, Jr.'s (“Jones”) federal civil rights complaint by Defendants the Louisiana Supreme Court, Charles B. Plattsmier, Jr. (“Plattsmier”), Robert Kennedy (“Kennedy”), and the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board (“the Board”) (collectively “Defendants”). See Record Documents 7, 12, and 33. Several other Motions are also before the Court: (1) Jones' Motion to Strike Plattsmier and Kennedy's Motion to Dismiss; (2) the Louisiana Supreme Court's Motion to Set Aside Default; and (3) Jones' Motion to Reconsider the Court's denial of his Motion for Leave to File a Supplemental Memorandum in Opposition to Plattsmier and Kennedy's Motion to Dismiss. See Record Documents 17, 34, and 44.

         For the reasons stated in the instant Memorandum Ruling, Defendants' Rule 12(b)(1) Motions (Record Documents 7, 12, and 33) are hereby GRANTED, and all of Jones' claims are hereby DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. The Louisiana Supreme Court's Motion to Set Aside Default (Record Document 34) is hereby GRANTED. Jones' Motion to Strike Plattsmier and Kennedy's Motion to Dismiss (Record Document 17) and Jones' Motion to Reconsider the Court's denial of his Motion for Leave to File a Supplemental Memorandum in Opposition to Plattsmier and Kennedy's Motion to Dismiss (Record Document 44) are hereby DENIED AS MOOT.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Jones, an African-American, is a former attorney who was disbarred from the Louisiana bar in 2007. The facts underlying Jones' disbarment may be found in In re Jones, 952 So.2d 673 (La. 2007). In the instant action, Jones asserts several federal constitutional claims against Defendants, primarily basing these claims on arguments that Defendants treated him differently than white attorneys who committed similar violations of professional conduct rules. See Record Document 1. Jones argues that Defendants' actions violated his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association, his rights under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and his rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See id. at 2. He also asserts various defects in the attorney discipline procedure, such as allegations that the formal disciplinary charges filed against him did not match the ultimate conclusions made by the Hearing Committee assigned to hear the disciplinary case against him. See id. at 11.

         Jones filed the instant action on December 1, 2015. See id. Defendants Plattsmier and Kennedy filed their Motion to Dismiss on May 4, 2016. See Record Document 7. The Board filed its Motion to Dismiss on May 20, 2016. See Record Document 12. Jones filed a Memorandum in Opposition and Motion to Strike Plattsmier and Kennedy's Motion to Dismiss on June 1, 2016. See Record Document 17. On June 6, 2016, Jones filed a Supplemental Memorandum in Opposition to Plattsmier and Kennedy's Motion to Dismiss, which the Court construed as a proposed supplemental memorandum and Motion for Leave to File such a memorandum. See Record Documents 20 and 43.

         On August 2, 2016, Jones requested that the Clerk of Court enter a default as to the Louisiana Supreme Court for failing to file a timely answer. See Record Document 29. On August 4, 2016, the Clerk of Court entered a default against the Louisiana Supreme Court. See Record Document 32. On August 8, 2016, the Louisiana Supreme Court filed a Motion to Dismiss and a Motion to Set Aside Default. See Record Documents 33 and 34. On October 3, 2016, the Court denied Jones' Motion for Leave to file his proposed Supplemental Memorandum. See Record Document 43. On October 23, Jones filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's decision on his Motion for Leave to File his Supplemental Memorandum. See Record Document 44. Jones has responded to all of the Motions to Dismiss. See Record Documents 17, 22, and 38.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. Legal Standards

         A. The Rule 12(b)(1) Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) allows parties to seek dismissal of a case on the ground that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the action. When a defendant files a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, the plaintiff, as the party asserting federal jurisdiction, bears the burden of establishing that the Court has jurisdiction. See New Orleans & Gulf Coast Ry. Co. v. Barrois, 533 F.3d 321, 327 (5th Cir. 2008). When a party challenges the court's subject matter jurisdiction based only on the complaint, it is a "facial attack, " and the court scrutinizes the pleadings, taking the allegations as true, to determine whether the claimant has sufficiently alleged subject matter jurisdiction. Menchaca v. Chrysler Credit Corp., 613 F.2d 507, 511 (5th Cir. 1980). Conclusory allegations, however, do not have to be taken as true. See Lacano Invs., LLC v. Balash, 765 F.3d 1068, 1071 (9th Cir. 2014).

         B. The Rule 12(b)(6) Standard

         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the requirements for pleadings that state a claim for relief, requiring that a pleading contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." The standard for the adequacy of complaints under Rule 8(a)(2) is now a "plausibility" standard found in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and its progeny. Under this standard, "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level . . . on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-556. If a pleading only contains "labels and conclusions" and "a formulaic ...


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