Church of Scientology Int'l v. Kolts, No. CV 93-1390-RSWL (EEx).

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
Citation846 F. Supp. 873
Decision Date16 February 1994
Docket NumberNo. CV 93-1390-RSWL (EEx).
PartiesCHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INT'L, Plaintiff, v. James G. KOLTS, Defendant.

846 F. Supp. 873

CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INT'L, Plaintiff,
v.
James G. KOLTS, Defendant.

No. CV 93-1390-RSWL (EEx).

United States District Court, C.D. California.

February 16, 1994.


846 F. Supp. 874
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
846 F. Supp. 875
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
846 F. Supp. 876
William T. Drescher, Calabassas, CA, Kendrick L. Moxon, Helena K. Kobrin, Bowles & Moxon, Hollywood, CA, for the plaintiff

Terree A. Bowers, U.S. Atty., George H. Wu, AUSA, Asst. Chief, Civ. Div., Los Angeles, CA, for the defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

LEW, District Judge.

Defendant James G. Kolts in the above captioned action has moved to dismiss Plaintiff's claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The matter was removed from the Court's law and motion calendar for disposition based on the filed papers pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78.

Having carefully considered all of the papers filed in support of and in opposition to Defendant's motions, the Court finds that this case is properly before this Court, and therefore Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is DENIED. Defendant's Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim is GRANTED WITH PREJUDICE.

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant James G. Kolts ("Defendant Kolts") was appointed by James M. Ideman, United States District Court Judge for the Central District of California, to serve as the special master in two consolidated cases, Religious Technology Center, et al. v. Scott, et al., No. CV 85-0711 JMI (Bx), and Religious Technology Center, et al. v. Wollersheim, et al., No. CV 85-7197 JMI(Bx) (the "Scott-Wollersheim cases"). Plaintiff, Church of Scientology International ("Plaintiff"), which is also the party plaintiff in the Scott-Wollersheim cases, contends that Defendant Kolts engaged in extrajudicial communications with a Time magazine reporter, Richard Behar, as well as FBI and IRS agents while serving as special master. In particular, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Kolts agreed to act as a confidential source to Mr. Behar at a time when Mr. Behar was writing an article for Time magazine which Plaintiff claims was "a viciously negative article."1 Plaintiff infers from these contacts that Defendant Kolts was biased, and therefore violated its constitutional rights. Defendant Kolts does not recall any such contact with Mr. Behar and apparently denies any extrajudicial contacts that might have prejudiced Plaintiff's case.

After Plaintiff discovered these extrajudicial contacts it brought a motion before Judge Ideman for recusal of Defendant Kolts based on the same alleged extrajudicial contacts that are the subject of this suit. Judge Ideman denied Plaintiff's motion holding that "it is patently obvious that the instant recusal motion is done for the purpose of delay and harassment, and because the motion is neither grounded in fact nor warranted by law, the Court HEREBY DENIES plaintiffs' recusal motion as to Special Master Kolts." Religious Technology Center et al., v. Scott, et al., No. CV 85-711 at 2 (C.D.Cal. Feb. 18, 1993) (order by Judge Ideman). Apparently, Judge Ideman recused himself as the presiding judge over the Scott-Wollersheim cases on June 30, 1993.

Plaintiff subsequently filed the instant suit against Defendant Kolts alleging a violation of its due process rights and violation of Canons 3A(4) and 3A(6) of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges (the "Judicial Code").2 Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment

846 F. Supp. 877
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2201 stating that Defendant Kolts violated its Fifth Amendment due process rights and violated the two provisions of the Judicial Code. Plaintiff also seeks an injunction, as necessary and proper relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2202, ordering Defendant Kolts to disclose the content of all of his extrajudicial communications regarding the Scott-Wollersheim cases or Plaintiff, and that he disgorge any fees paid to him since he first engaged in such activities.3

On May 3, 1993, Defendant Kolts moved to dismiss the instant case on the grounds that the Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and that Plaintiff had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. This Court granted Defendant's motion on June 14, 1993 with twenty days leave to amend. Plaintiff subsequently filed a First Amended Complaint on July 6, 1993. Defendant Kolts then filed the current Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) & (6).

II. DISCUSSION

Defendant Kolts asserts that Plaintiff's amended Complaint should be dismissed because this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and is barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. In addition, Defendant Kolts moves for dismissal on the grounds that Plaintiff cannot state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In particular, Defendant Kolts contends that the Judicial Code does not create a private cause of action, that Plaintiff has failed to allege sufficient facts to state a claim for violation of its due process rights, that Plaintiff cannot seek declaratory and injunctive relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2201, that Plaintiff's suit is merely a collateral attack on Judge Ideman's denial of Plaintiff's motion to recuse, and finally, that Defendant Kolts is immune from suit by the doctrine of absolute quasi-judicial immunity.

A. DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION.

Plaintiff bases its subject matter jurisdiction on 28 U.S.C. § 1331 for violation of its due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution as well as violation of Canons 3A(4) and 3A(6) of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges. In addition, Plaintiff asserts that this Court also has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1361 for "declaratory relief sought in the nature of mandamus to compel an officer of the United States to perform a duty owed to the plaintiff." (First Am.Compl. ¶ 2.) Defendant Kolts opposes each of these assertions of jurisdiction and contends that Plaintiff's suit against Defendant Kolts is actually a suit against the United States, and is therefore barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity.

1. Jurisdiction Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

If a court lacks subject matter jurisdiction the court must dismiss the case pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). Although Defendant Kolts is the moving party, Plaintiff is the party seeking to invoke this Court's jurisdiction. Accordingly, Plaintiff bears the burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction. See Stock West, Inc. v. Confederated Tribes, 873 F.2d 1221, 1225 (9th Cir.1989) ("A federal court is presumed to lack jurisdiction in a particular case unless the contrary affirmatively appears.").

Plaintiff asserts that this Court has jurisdiction over the instant case pursuant to

846 F. Supp. 878
28 U.S.C. § 1331. Because Plaintiff states a claim arising under the Constitution (Plaintiff contends its Fifth Amendment due process rights were violated), Plaintiff's complaint meets the requirement of "arising under" the Constitution required by 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The United States Supreme Court has held that a cause of action exists against federal officers for direct constitutional torts claims. Larson v. Domestic & Foreign Commerce Corp., 337 U.S. 682, 69 S.Ct. 1457, 93 L.Ed. 1628 (1949); Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S.Ct. 1999, 29 L.Ed.2d 619 (1971); see also Daly-Murphy v. Winston, 820 F.2d 1470, 1477 (9th Cir.1987). Thus, this Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. See The Presbyterian Church v. United States, 870 F.2d 518, 524 (9th Cir. 1989) (holding that the court had jurisdiction over a claim for declaratory relief because plaintiff alleged a violation of the First and Fourth Amendments); Seltzer v. Foley, 502 F.Supp. 600, 601 (S.D.N.Y.1980) (holding that subject matter jurisdiction existed over a claim for declaratory and injunctive relief because plaintiffs alleged that a government official had acted unconstitutionally to deprive them of a liberty interest and procedural due process)

The parties spend an inordinate amount of time in their submitted papers arguing whether the Code of Conduct for United States Judges constitutes a "law" that would confer subject matter jurisdiction on the Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Because Plaintiff alleges a violation of the Constitution in its complaint, the parties' discussion seems academic. However, while the Code may have the force of law, it does not seem to provide a grant of jurisdiction. Cf. Port Drum Co. v. Umphrey, 852 F.2d 148, 149-50 (5th Cir.1988) (holding that Rule 11 of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is not a federal law for purposes of Section 1331 jurisdiction, but is "instead a regulator of a party's proceedings once that party is in federal court pursuant to another, independent jurisdictional grant"); Johnson v. Thomas, 932 F.2d 747, 747 (8th Cir.1991) (per curiam) (holding that the Local Rules of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota addressing attorney discipline do not confer subject matter jurisdiction on federal courts); Taylor v. Diznoff, 633 F.Supp. 640, 642 (W.D.Pa.1986) (holding that the Code of Professional Responsibility for lawyers does not confer subject matter jurisdiction on the federal courts).

Finally, Defendant Kolts contends that the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202, as well as an action in the nature of mandamus, 28 U.S.C. § 1361, do not confer jurisdiction upon the federal courts to hear a claim for relief. This argument, however, is moot given that this Court holds that subject matter jurisdiction...

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10 practice notes
  • Caldwell v. Obama, Civil Action No. 13–1438 (BAH)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • November 20, 2013
    ...desired outcome—and, in any event, such codes of conduct provide no private right of action. SeeChurch of Scientology Int'l v. Kolts, 846 F.Supp. 873, 882 (C.D.Cal.1994) (“Given that no private right of action exists for violations of the Judicial Code, Plaintiff can state no facts which wo......
  • Kimbell v. Benner, Case No. CV 17-4767 FMO (SS)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • February 26, 2018
    ...*1 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 27, 2003); Wentworth v. Hedson, 248 F.R.D. 123, 125 (E.D.N.Y. 2008); cf.Page 18 Church of Scientology Int'l v. Kolts, 846 F. Supp. 873, 878 (C.D. Cal. 1994) ("while the Code [of Conduct for United Sates Judges] may have the force of law, it does not seem to provide a gran......
  • Jenkins v. Eastern Capital Corp., No. C 93-1171 FMS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • March 17, 1994
    ...of action sounds in contract, not tort, Foley v. Interactive Data Corp., 47 Cal.3d 654, 682-700, 254 Cal.Rptr. 211, 765 P.2d 373 (1988); 846 F. Supp. 873 therefore, this Court's holding as to plaintiff's cause of action for breach of contract removes the basis of plaintiff's claim for breac......
  • Faunce v. Martinez, 21-cv-363-MMA (WVG)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • June 27, 2022
    ...where a government agent acts unconstitutionally and therefore beyond the scope of his authority); Church of Scientology Int'l v. Kolts, 846 F.Supp. 873, 879 (C.D. Cal. 1994) (same); see also Golden Day Sch., Inc v. Pirillo, 118 F.Supp.2d 1037, 1048 (C.D. Cal. 2000). Moreover, the CTCA's co......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
10 cases
  • Caldwell v. Obama, Civil Action No. 13–1438 (BAH)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • November 20, 2013
    ...desired outcome—and, in any event, such codes of conduct provide no private right of action. SeeChurch of Scientology Int'l v. Kolts, 846 F.Supp. 873, 882 (C.D.Cal.1994) (“Given that no private right of action exists for violations of the Judicial Code, Plaintiff can state no facts which wo......
  • Kimbell v. Benner, Case No. CV 17-4767 FMO (SS)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • February 26, 2018
    ...*1 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 27, 2003); Wentworth v. Hedson, 248 F.R.D. 123, 125 (E.D.N.Y. 2008); cf.Page 18 Church of Scientology Int'l v. Kolts, 846 F. Supp. 873, 878 (C.D. Cal. 1994) ("while the Code [of Conduct for United Sates Judges] may have the force of law, it does not seem to provide a gran......
  • Jenkins v. Eastern Capital Corp., No. C 93-1171 FMS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • March 17, 1994
    ...of action sounds in contract, not tort, Foley v. Interactive Data Corp., 47 Cal.3d 654, 682-700, 254 Cal.Rptr. 211, 765 P.2d 373 (1988); 846 F. Supp. 873 therefore, this Court's holding as to plaintiff's cause of action for breach of contract removes the basis of plaintiff's claim for breac......
  • Faunce v. Martinez, 21-cv-363-MMA (WVG)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • June 27, 2022
    ...where a government agent acts unconstitutionally and therefore beyond the scope of his authority); Church of Scientology Int'l v. Kolts, 846 F.Supp. 873, 879 (C.D. Cal. 1994) (same); see also Golden Day Sch., Inc v. Pirillo, 118 F.Supp.2d 1037, 1048 (C.D. Cal. 2000). Moreover, the CTCA's co......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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