United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division
L. Christensen, Chief Judge
States Magistrate Judge John Johnston entered his Findings
and Recommendations on May 19, 2017, recommending dismissal
of Plaintiff Randy Dennison's ("Dennison")
Amended Complaint. Dennison timely filed objections and is
therefore entitled to de novo review of those findings and
recommendations to which he specifically objects. 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(C). This Court reviews for clear error those
findings and recommendations to which no party objects.
See McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Commodore Bus. Mack,
Inc., 656 F.2d 1309, 1313 (9th Cir. 1981); Thomas v.
Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149 (1985). "Clear error exists
if the Court is left with a definite and firm conviction that
a mistake has been committed." United States v.
Syrax, 235 F.3d 422, 427 (9th Cir. 2000). Because the
parties are familiar with the factual background of this
case, it will not be repeated here.
objections, Dennison argues that Judge Johnston erred by
finding that: (1) Judge Eddy is immune from suit; (2) his
claims against the members and workers of the Montana
Judicial Standards Commission should be dismissed; and (3)
his third and fourth causes of action should be dismissed. It
should be first noted that Dennison's objections request
that "this Court dismiss all claims for money against
any Defendant named in this Proceeding thereby eliminating
any ground stated by [Judge] Johnston for Dismissal that is
based on or related to liability damages." (Doc. 11 at
1.) Instead, Dennison requests "Declaratory relief
against Judge Eddy and all other Defendants. (Id.)
to Dennison's first objection, despite his request to
dismiss all claims for monetary damages, Judge Eddy is
nevertheless also immune from claims requesting declaratory
relief. As discussed by Judge Johnston, judicial immunity
extends to claims seeking declaratory and other equitable
relief, as well as claims for monetary relief. Moore v.
Brewster, 96 F.3d 1240, 1243 (9th Cir. 1996) (superseded
by statute on other grounds). Consequently, Dennison's
first objection is overruled.
Dennison argues that Judge Johnston misconstrued his second
cause of action as an appeal and not, as he states, as a
claim brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 which alleges
that the Montana Judicial Standards Commission violated his
Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights. However, upon review
of Dennison's Amended Complaint, his second cause of
action requests that this Court "Reverse and
Remand" the Montana Judicial Standards Commission's
decision to dismiss his complaint against Judge Eddy. (Doc. 9
at 9.) Although Dennison argues that his second cause of
action should not be construed as an appeal, the Court cannot
ignore his requested relief under this claim. As such, the
Court agrees with Judge Johnston and finds that it lacks the
power review the decisions of the Montana Judicial Standards
Commission. See Branson v. Nott, 62 F.3d 287, 291
(9th Cir. 1995) (federal district courts lack subject matter
jurisdiction to review the final determinations of state
proceedings) (overruled on other grounds). Dennison's
second objection is thus overruled.
Dennison argues that Judge Johnston erred by dismissing his
third and fourth causes of action brought against Judge Blair
Jones, a member of the Montana Judicial Standards Commission,
and Justice Mike McGrath of the Montana Supreme Court,
respectively. Dennison contends that Judge Johnston failed to
address these claims. However, upon close inspection of the
Findings and Recommendations, it appears Judge Johnston
viewed these claims as an attempt by Dennison to appeal the
decision of the Montana Judicial Standards Commission
dismissing his complaint against Judge Eddy. As discussed
above, the Court agrees with Judge Johnston that this Court
lacks jurisdiction to review this decision. Nevertheless, to
the extent that Dennison argues that Judge Blair and Justice
McGrath violated his constitutional rights by either adopting
a rule which bestows immunity upon members of the Montana
Judicial Standards Commission or enforcing such a rule, the
Court finds that these claims are barred by the Eleventh
Amendment. See Snoeck v. Brussa, 153 F.3d 984 (9th
Cir. 1998) (claims brought pursuant to § 1983 against
members and executive director of state judicial discipline
commission were barred by the Eleventh Amendment); see
also Dobronski v. Arizona, 128 Fed. Appx. 608, 609 (9th
Cir. 2005) (same) (unpublished). As such, Dennison's
third objection is overruled.
there being no clear error in the remaining Findings and
Recommendations, IT IS ORDERED that:
(1) Judge Johnston's Findings and Recommendations (Doc.
10) are ADOPTED IN FULL.
(2) This matter is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. The Clerk of
Court is directed to close this matter and enter judgment in
favor of Defendants pursuant to Rule 58 of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure.
(3) The Clerk of Court is directed to have the docket reflect
that the Court certifies pursuant to Rule 24(a)(3)(A) of the
Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure that any appeal of this
decision would not be taken in good faith. No reasonable
person could suppose an appeal would have merit. The record
makes plain the instant Complaint lacks arguable substance in
law or fact.
 The Court also notes that Justice
McGrath is also immune from suit under the doctrine of
judicial immunity. Moor ...