What’s interesting here is Stanley Price complained about lower court Judge Vance, who was succeeded, albeit temporarily, by Judge Engelhardt – who was elevated to the Fifth Circuit and is now on the panel for the latest opinion….sigh…
United States Court of Appeals
for the Fifth Circuit
In re: Stanley Price,
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
USDC No. 2:20-MC-1448
MAY 3, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: MAY 3, 2021
Before Dennis, Southwick, and Engelhardt, Circuit Judges. Per Curiam (unpublished):
Stanley Price moves for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) in this appeal from an order of the district court that prohibits future filings and/or submissions made by or on behalf of Price unless he first obtains authorization from a district judge.
As noted by the district court, Price has developed a pattern of filing civil actions against federal and state judges based on their unfavorable judicial decisions, and he has done so even though he has been made aware that “judges enjoy absolute immunity for judicial acts performed in judicial proceedings.” Mays v. Sudderth, 97 F.3d 107, 110 (5th Cir. 1996) (citing Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 553-54 (1967)).
By moving to proceed IFP on appeal, Price has challenged the district court’s certification that the appeal is not taken in good faith. Baugh v. Taylor, 117 F.3d 197, 202 (5th Cir. 1997).
Our inquiry into whether the appeal is taken in good faith “is limited to whether the appeal involves legal points arguable on their merits (and therefore not frivolous).”
Howard v. King, 707 F.2d 215, 220 (5th Cir. 1983) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
If we uphold the district court’s certification that the appeal is not taken in good faith, Price must pay the appellate filing fee or the appeal will be dismissed for want of prosecution. See Baugh, 117 F.3d at 202.
Alternatively, “where the merits are so intertwined with the certification decision as to constitute the same issue,” we may deny the IFP motion and dismiss the appeal sua sponte if it is frivolous. Id. at 202 & n.24; see 5th Cir. R. 42.2.
Price contends that the filing restrictions infringe on his constitutional rights.
We have recognized a constitutional right of access to the courts, see Ryland v. Shapiro, 708 F.2d 967, 971-73 (5th Cir. 1983).
However, “[t]he right of access to the courts is neither absolute nor unconditional and there is no constitutional right of access to the courts to prosecute an action that is frivolous or malicious.” Baum v. Blue Moon Ventures, LLC, 513 F.3d 181, 193 (5th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
Further, we have determined that barring a litigant from filing future complaints without the consent of the court is an appropriate sanction for filing multiple meritless lawsuits. See Balawajder v. Scott, 160 F.3d 1066, 1067 (5th Cir. 1998).
Next, Price contends that the district judge who issued the instant sanction order is personally biased against him, and he argues that the judge has violated her oath of office because she has allowed judicial officials to violate his rights; further, he contends that the judge should recuse herself from hearing any cases involving him or his family.
However, Price’s assertions of judicial bias are seemingly based on the orders issued in the instant case, as well as adverse judicial rulings issued by other judges in cases already concluded. Price’s contentions are thus unavailing, as judicial rulings, standing alone, almost never constitute a valid basis for recusal. See Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 555 (1994).
Finally, when his pro se filings are liberally construed, see Morrow v. FBI, 2 F.3d 642, 643 n.2 (5th Cir. 1993), Price seems to contend that the district court abused its discretion in imposing the filing restrictions.
He asserts that other judges did not conclude that sanctions were warranted.
In determining whether to impose a pre-filing injunction, “a court must weigh all the relevant circumstances,” including the following factors:
(1) the party’s history of litigation, in particular whether he has filed vexatious, harassing, or duplicative lawsuits;
(2) whether the party had a good faith basis for pursuing the litigation, or simply intended to harass;
(3) the extent of the burden on the courts and other parties resulting from the party’s filings;
(4) the adequacy of alternative sanctions.
Baum, 513 F.3d at 189.
Here, the district court explicitly considered the enumerated factors, and it also took into account other relevant circumstances. Price has made no showing that the district court abused its discretion in deciding to issue a pre-filing injunction. See Qureshi v. United States, 523, 524 (5th Cir. 2010).
Price has not demonstrated that his appeal involves “legal points arguable on their merits.” Howard, 707 F.2d at 220.
Thus, his motion for leave to proceed IFP is DENIED, and the appeal is DISMISSED as frivolous.
See Baugh, 117 F.3d at 202 & n.24; 5th Cir. R. 42.2.
Price v. Irons, No. 20-30412 (5th Cir. Jan. 7, 2021)
JAN 7, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: MAY 3, 2021
Before JOLLY, ELROD, and GRAVES, Circuit Judges. PER CURIAM (Unpublished):
Stanley Price filed this lawsuit in the Eastern District of Louisiana alleging misconduct related to a separate set of proceedings that Price filed in Louisiana state court. He alleges that various judges committed judicial misconduct; that opposing counsel acted unethically; and that the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Judiciary Commission of Louisiana, and their respective investigative officers failed to properly investigate his complaints of misconduct.
The district court dismissed Price’s claims.
It concluded that the claims brought against the defendants in their official capacities were barred by the Eleventh Amendment.
It further concluded that Price’s claims against the various judges in their personal capacities were barred by judicial immunity and that those brought against the investigative officers in their personal capacities were barred by absolute immunity.
The district court dismissed Price’s claims against the opposing counsel and their law firm because Price had failed to state a claim based on federal law.
Price moved to have Judge Vance, who heard his case in federal court, disqualified, but that motion was denied as well.
On appeal, Price first argues that the district court should have given him leave to amend his complaint.
However, “[i]t is within the district court’s discretion to deny a motion to amend if it is futile.” Stripling v. Jordan Prod. Co., 234 F.3d 863, 872-73 (5th Cir. 2000). The district court did not err in denying Price’s motion to amend because Price’s motion does not explain how he could cure the deficiencies in his claims. Amending the complaint would be futile.
Second, Price argues that judicial immunity does not apply because the alleged misconduct related to the administrative responsibilities of the state judges, not their adjudicative responsibilities.
We agree with the district court that the conduct complained of was judicial in nature because it involved the judicial administration of Price’s case. See Boyd v. Biggers, 31 F.3d 279, 285 (5th Cir. 1994) (“A judge’s acts are judicial in nature if they are ‘normally performed by a judge’ and the parties affected ‘dealt with the judge in his judicial capacity.'” (quoting Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 12 (1991))).
Third, Price contends that the Ex Parte Young doctrine permits him to assert his claims despite the Eleventh Amendment’s general grant of sovereign immunity to nonconsenting states against private suits in federal court.
Ex Parte Young applies only where a plaintiff has sought prospective injunctive or declaratory relief. Green Valley Special Util. Dist. v. City of Schertz, 969 F.3d 460, 471 (5th Cir. 2020) (en banc).
Price’s complaint asked the district court to award damages, not prospective relief, so the district court was correct in its determination that the Eleventh Amendment bars his suit against the defendants in their official capacities.
Fourth, Price asserts that he has stated a federal claim against the opposing counsel and their law firm because he asserted a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
However, as the district court noted, § 1983 applies only where an individual acts under color of state law. See Cornish v. Corr. Servs. Corp., 402 F.3d 545, 549 (5th Cir. 2005). We agree with the district court that these defendants did not act with state authority or under the color of state law.
Finally, Price asks this court to reverse the denial of his motion for disqualification. However, Price provides us with no basis to disqualify Judge Vance.
For these reasons, and for the reasons outlined by the district court, we AFFIRM the district court’s dismissal of Price’s claims. We also AFFIRM the denial of Price’s motion for disqualification.