Holloway v. Walker

Decision Date18 July 1985
Docket NumberNo. 84-1772,84-1772
PartiesPat S. HOLLOWAY, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. Judge Dee Brown WALKER, et al., Defendants, Judge Dee Brown Walker, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit

Bruce W. Claycombe, Morgan A. Jones, Dallas, Tex., for defendant-appellant.

Joe H. Reynolds, Reynolds, Allen & Cook, Inc., Houston, Tex., for plaintiffs-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Before JOHNSON, JOLLY and HILL, Circuit Judges.

E. GRADY JOLLY, Circuit Judge:

This interlocutory appeal presents questions relating to the asserted defense of judicial immunity. Texas Judge Dee Brown Walker and other defendants are alleged to have seized control of Humble Oil pursuant to a conspiracy to deprive the legitimate owners of Humble of their property without due process of law. The appellee Holloway and others brought suit for damages and equitable relief under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983, charging that Walker abused his office by imposing a receivership on Humble, appointing an incompetent administrator, and largely wrecking the corporation in accordance with the aims of the conspiracy. Walker moved to dismiss all claims against him, arguing that the plaintiffs had failed to present allegations sufficient to warrant injunctive relief and, in addition, arguing that his judicial immunity bars this suit. The district court dismissed Walker's motion. Because we find the order denying immunity from damages is an appealable order, and that Walker is entitled to the protection of absolute judicial immunity from damages in this case, we reverse the district court, and order the dismissal of the damages action against him. Moreover, we dismiss all pendent state law claims on eleventh amendment grounds. We find no other appealable order in this case, and accordingly dismiss the remainder of the appeal.


In reviewing this order denying dismissal, we do not go outside the pleadings. We accept all well pleaded facts as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Carpenters Local Union No. 1846 v. Pratt-Farnsworth, Inc., 690 F.2d 489, 500 (5th Cir.1982). We cannot order a dismissal "unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 101-02, 2 L.Ed.2d 80, 84 (1957); Cook & Nichol, Inc. v. Plimsoll Club, 451 F.2d 505, 506 (5th Cir.1971).


The complicated history of this case begins on September 12, 1979 when the Brownings, defendants in the present case, filed suit against Humble, Holloway and others in the 193rd Judicial District Court of Dallas County, Texas, seeking, as the alleged equitable owners of substantially all of the assets of Humble and Holloway, the imposition of a constructive trust on Humble's and Holloway's assets, actual and exemplary damages, and the appointment of an interim receiver to manage the disputed assets. Sterling Pipeline Company was later added to the case. (The lawsuit is hereinafter referred to as the "1979 case.") On November 19, 1979, Humble and Holloway filed Chapter 11 voluntary bankruptcy petitions and removed the 1979 case to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1478(a).

The parties entered a "Stipulation and Agreement on Manner in Which Controversy Shall Be Heard, Determined and Liquidated," which was approved by the bankruptcy court and annexed to the court's January 18, 1980 "Order Remanding Causes of Action and Modifying Automatic Stay." The remand order remanded the 1979 case to the 193rd Judicial District Court pursuant to the terms of the stipulation and agreement, and modified the automatic stay to permit trial of the case upon remand, subject to the terms of the stipulation and agreement. The stipulation and agreement provided, among other things, that upon remand of the case the parties would request the presiding judge of the administrative judicial district to assign a visiting or retired state judge to hear the consolidated cases.

The case was remanded and the presiding judge assigned it to a retired state judge who ordered enforcement of a prior settlement agreement. In 1981, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Supreme Judicial District of Texas (the "Texas court of appeals") reversed the order enforcing the settlement agreement and remanded the case for a jury trial. The Texas Supreme Court found no reversible error. Upon remand from the state appellate courts, the 1979 case was assigned to a different retired state judge who entered an order nullifying the prior settlement agreement.

On May 26, 1982, a group of investors sued Holloway and Humble in the 162nd Judicial District Court of Dallas County, Texas, Judge Dee Brown Walker presiding, claiming that Humble had wrongfully shut-in over 150 oil and gas wells jointly owned by the investors and Humble. This suit is alleged by Holloway to have been brought pursuant to the conspiracy, solely for the purpose of creating a case before Walker into which the 1979 action could be consolidated, in violation of the agreement that restricted the judge who could hear the 1979 action to one who had retired or was visiting the judicial district. The investors sought the appointment of a receiver over Humble's assets. (The case is hereinafter referred to as the "1982 case.") The Brownings were named as defendants in the 1982 case because of their claim to ownership of Humble's and Holloway's assets. The 1982 case was removed to the bankruptcy court and remanded to Judge Walker's court on the same day.

On May 28, 1982, Judge Walker appointed a receiver in the 1982 case over Humble's and Holloway's assets. Thereafter "ensued a somewhat dizzying sequence of state court orders," most of which were issued by Judge Walker, and recounted in Browning v. Navarro, 37 B.R. 201, 205-06 (D.C.N.D.Tex.1983), which resulted in the transfer and consolidation of the 1979 case into the 1982 case before Judge Walker in the 162nd Judicial District Court. On June 24, 1982, the May 28, 1982 receivership order having been vacated by the state court of appeals, 1 Judge Walker granted the Brownings' request for a separate and expedited trial of the 1979 case. On August 26, 1982, after a month-long trial, judgment was entered in the 1979 case for the Brownings, imposing a constructive trust on Humble's and Holloway's assets and awarding the Brownings actual damages of $72,000,000 and exemplary damages of $10,000,000.

On November 18, 1982, Holloway and Humble brought the action in which the present appeal is taken (the "civil rights case") against Judge Walker, the Brownings, legal counsel for the Brownings and many others, alleging that all the defendants had conspired to violate Holloway's and Humble's civil rights in the 1979 case. The complaint alleges that Walker and the other defendants conspired to seize control of Humble through the abuse of Walker's judicial office. Holloway contends that pursuant to the conspiracy Walker arranged to have the 1982 case brought before his court contrary to the usual procedure for assigning cases, that Walker thereafter arranged to have the 1979 and the 1982 cases consolidated in his court, that he imposed receiverships on Humble's and Holloway's assets, defied a mandamus order of the Texas Court of Appeals to refrain from interfering in Humble's business, appointed an incompetent receiver for Humble, dismissed many Humble personnel, posted guards at Humble's headquarters to seize the building, and, in a hotel near the courthouse, conducted meetings regarding Humble's business, all in furtherance of the conspiracy. Holloway contends extensive damage was done to him and Humble through Walker's pernicious actions. Holloway's complaint, broadly construed, may be interpreted to allege that Walker may have acted pursuant to a bribe, although the complaint does not use that word. Accordingly, we will treat the complaint as alleging both bribery and conspiracy.

Holloway's complaint requests damages as well as equitable and declaratory relief under section 1983. In addition, Holloway requests similar relief under Texas state law.

After Holloway and Humble filed the civil rights case they perfected an appeal from the judgment in the 1979 case to the Texas court of appeals. The Texas court of appeals was the appropriate Texas appellate court to hear the appeal of a case from Judge Walker's court. However, neither Humble nor Holloway posted a supersedeas bond to stay execution of the judgment in the 1979 case pending their appeal.

The Brownings then brought an action in the United States District Court (the "turnover action") to obtain possession of Holloway's and Humble's assets which, according to the judgment in the 1979 case, were being held for their benefit. Humble, Holloway and their trustee, Don Navarro, refused to turn the assets over to the Brownings. They argued that the proceedings before Judge Walker, an active judge, were void because the 1979 case was tried in contravention of the bankruptcy court's original remand order. The United States District Court granted a summary judgment in favor of Navarro and held that the trial of the 1979 case before Judge Walker was void. This court, however, reversed the district court's determinations and held that the trial before Judge Walker was not void because the remand order had been satisfied. Browning v. Navarro, 743 F.2d 1069 (5th Cir.1984).

The appeal of the 1979 case was pending in the Texas court of appeals while the turnover action was being litigated in the United States District Court. The Texas court of appeals, however, believed that the turnover action constituted a collateral attack on Judge Walker's judgment in the 1979 case. Therefore, the Texas court of appeals dismissed Humble's and Holloway's appeal 2 because it did not believe Humble and...

To continue reading

Request your trial
130 cases
  • United States v. State
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Texas
    • October 6, 2021
    ..., 798 F.2d 736, 744 (5th Cir. 1986) (stating that Texas "district judges ... are undeniably elected state officials."); Holloway v. Walker , 765 F.2d 517 (5th Cir. 1985) (recognizing that Texas state judges are state elected officials), cert. denied , 474 U.S. 1037, 106 S.Ct. 605, 88 L.Ed.2......
  • Caliste v. Cantrell, CIVIL ACTION No. 17-6197
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Louisiana
    • August 6, 2018
    ...relief was unavailable."); Pulliam v. Allen , 466 U.S. 522, 541-42, 104 S.Ct. 1970, 80 L.Ed.2d 565 (1984) ; Holloway v. Walker , 765 F.2d 517, 525 (5th Cir. 1985).Judge Cantrell claims that Plaintiffs are asking the Court to direct him in the exercise of his judicial duties, specifically to......
  • Diaz v. Tocci, CIVIL NO. SA-16-CA-356-DAE (PMA)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Texas
    • June 16, 2016
    ...a judge performed judicial acts pursuant to a bribe or a conspiracy will not suffice to overcome absolute immunity. Holloway v. Walker, 765 F.2d 517, 522 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 1037 (1985). "The federal civil rights laws do not provide a vehicle to attack state court judgments n......
  • Johnson v. Kegans
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
    • April 24, 1989
    ...98 S.Ct. 1099, 1105-07, 55 L.Ed.2d 331 (1978); Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 87 S.Ct. 1213, 18 L.Ed.2d 288 (1967); Holloway v. Walker, 765 F.2d 517, 522-25 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 1037, 106 S.Ct. 605, 88 L.Ed.2d 583 (1985); Adams v. McIlhany, 764 F.2d 294, 297-99 (5th Cir.1985), ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • When the Defendant Is the Judge
    • United States
    • Colorado Bar Association Colorado Lawyer No. 18-9, September 1989
    • Invalid date
    ...overruled in Ashelman v. Pope, 793 F.2d 1072 (9th Cir. 1986) after Stump, supra, note 2. 5. Ashelman, supra, note 4; Holloway v. Walker, 765 F.2d 517 (5th Cir. 1985). 6. Lewis v. Blackburn, 555 F.Supp. 713 (W.D.N.C. 1983). 7. Ex Parte Virginia, 27 L.Ed. 676 (1880), quoted with approval in F......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT