Sadlier v. Payne

Citation974 F.Supp. 1411
Decision Date26 August 1997
Docket NumberNo. 2:97-CV-0527J.,2:97-CV-0527J.
PartiesDarren William SADLIER, Plaintiff, v. Hon. Lynn PAYNE, Kenneth R. Wallentine, and John C. Beaslin, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Utah

Darren William Sadlier, Vernal, UT, pro se.

Dan R. Larsen, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jan Graham, Atty. Gen., Salt Lake City, UT, for Defendant Payne.

Peter Stirba, Linette B. Hutton, Stirba & Hathaway, Salt Lake City, UT, for Defendant Wallentine.

John C. Beaslin, Vernal, UT, for Defendant Beaslin.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JENKINS, Senior District Judge.

On August 25, 1997, the Court held a hearing on defendants' motions to dismiss and all pending motions. The plaintiff Darren William Sadlier, currently an inmate at the Utah State Prison, did not appear and did not file any response to the defendants' motions. Dan R. Larsen appeared on behalf of defendant Lynn Payne and Linette B. Hutton appeared on behalf of defendant Kenneth R. Wallentine. The Court having reviewed the motions and memoranda submitted by the parties, and having heard oral argument from the parties present, and having fully considered the same, and for reasons discussed below and stated on the record at the August 25, 1997 hearing, finds that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted as to each of the defendants and grants each defendants' Motion to Dismiss. Further, because plaintiff's claims for damages are based on several purported constitutional violations that occurred in relation to his underlying state criminal conviction, claims that would effectively call into question the lawfulness of his conviction, the plaintiff must first show that his conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.

Factual Summary

On January 12, 1996, the plaintiff was a defendant in a criminal proceeding held in the Eighth District Court for the State of Utah. The defendants in this action, Lynn Payne, Kenneth R. Wallentine, and John C. Beaslin, acted respectively as the judge, the prosecutor, and defense counsel at plaintiff's criminal proceeding. The plaintiff pled guilty to the charges (relating to a probation violation) and was sentenced to the custody of the Utah State Prison. On July 7, 1997, the plaintiff commenced this action by filing his Complaint which ostensibly alleges, among other things, that the defendants have violated his civil rights, violated the United States Constitution, and committed "constructive treason" because the state criminal proceeding was conducted while an American flag adorned with yellow fringe was present in the courtroom. For these acts, the plaintiff seeks $5 million for the "loss of standing in the community and the embarrassment that incarceration has caused [him]"; an additional $5 million for "torture of body and mind"; $1 million from each defendant for each Constitutional violation; and "excessive damage" in the amount of $5 million (this in silver dollars) for "constructive treason" because the plaintiff will never again feel safe from "foreign agents" who act under "foreign flags with fringe of yellow." Each of the defendants has filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that the Complaint fails to state any claim upon which relief can be granted.

Discussion

Insofar as plaintiff's Complaint asserts a claim against a state court judge and a state prosecutor in their respective official roles, the doctrine of absolute immunity bars any such claim. See, e.g., Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356-57, 98 S.Ct. 1099, 1104-05, 55 L.Ed.2d 331 (1978) (holding that doctrine of absolute immunity bars § 1983 claims against judge acting within his jurisdiction); Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 424-29, 96 S.Ct. 984, 992-94, 47 L.Ed.2d 128 (1976) (extending absolute immunity from § 1983 claims to prosecutors acting within their official roles). Further, because plaintiff's claims for damages are based on several purported constitutional violations that occurred in relation to his underlying state criminal convictions claims that would effectively call into question the lawfulness of his convictions the plaintiff must first show that his convictions or sentences has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. Edwards v. Balisok, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 117 S.Ct. 1584, 1588, 137 L.Ed.2d 906 (1997); Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 2372-73, 129 L.Ed.2d 383 (1994). This the plaintiff has failed to do.

Moreover, the Court's review of the plaintiff's Complaint fails to yield any cognizable claim. The Complaint filed by the plaintiff is for the most part incomprehensible. Its fifteen pages pose a number of problems, not the least of which is that the majority of the Complaint is set forth in a rambling fashion that fails to plead any factual allegations. The Complaint merely recites various excerpts from the United States Constitution, the United States Code, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Uniform Commercial Code — the relevance of which is left to the reader's imagination.

Regrettably, the Court has become all too familiar with this type of complaint. The Court distills the plaintiff's Complaint to two basic and equally unavailing propositions: (1) plaintiff's civil rights were violated because he was sentenced in a state courtroom that displayed an American flag adorned with yellow fringe on a flagpole that may also have had atop it a yellow eagle, ball, or spear — an act amounting to a "mutilation" that divested the court of its power and converted the court into a "foreign state/power" court;1 and (2) plaintiff's civil rights were violated because his was sentenced by a state court that did not have jurisdiction over him because his name was capitalized in court documents. (As the Court learned in an earlier but similar case, this is commonly referred to as "being killed on paper.") As a visual aid in support of his basic proposition the plaintiff has affixed a small flag sticker to the first page of his Complaint, a sticker that apparently represents the "American flag of peace," it, of course, being without the offending yellow fringe.2

Flowing from these two basic claims the plaintiff asserts that the defendants either jointly or individually committed, among other things, the following acts: civil and criminal conspiracy to deprive the plaintiff of his civil rights; extortion (presumably because the defendants were paid for their work); mail fraud (for capitalizing the plaintiff's name in court documents); misprision of a felony; perjury of oath for not correcting the flag "mutilation"; kidnaping; assault with a deadly weapon; obstruction of justice; and deprivation of plaintiff's rights to equal protection. Indeed, much of the Complaint is devoted to the plaintiff's assertions that the defendants have violated various federal criminal statutes. The power to enforce these criminal statutes, however, has been delegated solely to the Attorney General of the United States. See, e.g., Cok v. Cosentino, 876 F.2d 1, 2 (1st Cir.1989) (holding that only the United States can bring an action for criminal conspiracy to deprive another of their civil rights). No private right of action exists. See Newcomb v. Ingle, 827 F.2d 675, 676 n. 1 (10th Cir.1987) (violation of criminal conspiracy under 18 U.S.C. § 241 does not provide for a private cause of action). Thus, the plaintiff has no standing to assert these claims.

Moreover, the plaintiff asserts that because the defendants acted in a court that displayed the offending yellow-fringed flag they engaged in "constructive treason" by "betraying the state into the hands of a foreign power." Yet the doctrine of constructive treason has never been adopted in the United States.

Conceptually, constructive treason "is an attempt to establish treason by circumstantiality, and not by the simple genuine letter of the law, and therefore is highly dangerous to public freedom." 87 C.J.S. Treason § 1 (1954). This doctrine developed under English law where it was made a crime to "compass or imagine the Death of ... the King." Steffan v. Perry, 41 F.3d 677, 713 (D.C.Cir.1994) (Wald, J. dissenting) (quoting Statute of Treasons, 25 Edw. III). "This became the crime of `constructive treason,' which was enforced against supposed `compassers' and `imaginers' even when no overt act other than mere words or agreement corroborated an intent to carry out the regicide." Id. (citations omitted). This doctrine, however, is expressly repudiated by the Constitution, which states that "treason against the United States consists only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. ... [and that] [n]o person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court." U.S. Const. art. III, § 3. By its express language, the Constitution limits conviction for the crime of treason to particular overt acts. No other form of treason has been recognized. Even though the plaintiff has no standing to enforce the criminal law in a private civil action, the plaintiff's claim of constructive treason is contrary to the express words of the Constitution and, therefore, has no merit whatsoever.

In several places in the Complaint, the plaintiff also claims that his Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial and a common law court was violated because, among other things, the state courtroom contained the yellow-fringed flag. Notwithstanding any other inadequacies of this claim, including the fact that the plaintiff pled guilty to the charges, the claim fails because the Seventh Amendment applies only to civil actions, not criminal...

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    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Utah
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    ...of formalism long ago.'" (quoting United States v.sl Singleton, 2004 WL 1102322, *3 (N.D.Ill. May 7, 2004))); see also Sadlier v. Payne, 974 F.Supp. 1411 (D.Utah 1997). 40. Cf. "Magical Thinking," at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magicalthinking ("Another form of magical thinking occurs when......
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    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
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    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
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    ...yellow fringe flag" is illegal and concluding that "one could rightly call" such an argument "gibberish"); Sadlier v. Payne, 974 F. Supp. 1411, 1415-16 (D. Utah 1997) (repudiating a plaintiff's claim that "yellow fringe on the flag somehow converted the jurisdiction of the state court into ......
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    ...the jurisdiction of the court and holding all future claims based on this argument "frivolous and sanctionable"); Sadlier v. Payne, 974 F. Supp. 1411, 1414 (D. Utah 1997) (holding yellow fringe on flag does not convert state courtroom into a "foreign state or power); McCann v. Greenway, 952......
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