finding that plaintiffs failed to plead declaratory relief was unavailable when plaintiffs sought declaratory relief in the district courtSummary of this case from Cormier v. Horkan
CIVIL ACTION NO. 03-664, SECTION "A" (3).
May 1, 2003.
MEMORANDUM RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO QUASH AND/OR STAY ALL DISCOVERY
Defendant Justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court and Bar Administrative Officials sued in their official capacities, having reserved all rights "to contest subject matter jurisdiction and to seek dismissal additionally on the grounds of prematurity, abstention, and improper request for injunctive/declaratory relief, inter alia," have filed a Motion to Quash and/or to Stay All Discovery, and Alternatively for a Protective Order on the basis of statutory absolute judicial immunity conferred by 42 U.S.C. § 1983, whether the relief sought is damages or prospective relief (i.e., declaratory or injunctive relief). Plaintiffs, Karen LeClerc, Guillaume Jarry, Beatrice Boulord and Maureen Affleck, filed formal opposition, arguing that neither qualified, nor absolute judicial immunity is available to judicial defendants acting in their enforcement capacities. Defendants filed formal Reply Memorandum. On April 23, 2003, the matter came on for hearing in open court before the undersigned Magistrate Judge. Participating were Louis R. Koerner, Jr. on behalf of the plaintiffs and Bruce V. Schewe and Harry Rosenberg on behalf of the defendants. The Court, having considered the record, submissions of the parties, the argument of counsel and the applicable law, GRANTS the Motion to Stay Discovery pending the determination of the immunity issues by the district judge.
See Defendants' Motion to Quash and/or to Stay All Discovery, at p. 2 [Rec. Doc. No. 9].
Plaintiffs' Memorandum in Opposition to Motion to Quash, at pp. 7-8 [Rec. Doc. No. 10].
Defendants' Motion for Leave to File Reply Memorandum and Reply Memorandum. [Rec. Doc. Nos. 15 and 16].
On March 6, 2003, plaintiffs filed their original complaint seeking damages (attorney's fees and costs), declaratory and injunctive relief against the Louisiana Supreme Court Justices and Louisiana Bar Administrative Officials in their respective official capacities pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging denial of equal protection, due process and unspecified other unconstitutional conduct as well. In addition, plaintiffs invoke the supplemental jurisdiction of the Court regarding alleged violations of Louisiana law "and other causes of action that arise out of the same set of facts," and note that there is an amount in controversy with respect to their state law claims which "amount in controversy exceeds, exclusive of costs, interest, and attorney's fees, the sum of $75,000.00."
See Plaintiffs' Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief at ¶ 1 [Rec. Doc. No. 1].
Plaintiffs, who are non-resident aliens lawfully employed within the United States, aver that their applications for permission to sit for the Louisiana State Bar Examination were or will be denied because they are not resident aliens. Plaintiffs aver that they are full time employees of the Koerner Law Firm in New Orleans and are permitted to be so employed under the terms their "J" visas authorizing residency and employment for a period of up to eighteen months. Plaintiffs submit that the "J" visa is not one that provides the status of "Resident alien" under the provisions of 8 U.S.C. § 1255, but that otherwise they are qualified for admission to the Bar of the Supreme Court of Louisiana under § 3 of Rule XVII and are prepared to submit an application packet that is timely under Rule XVII of the Rules of the Louisiana Supreme Court. See Complaint at ¶¶ 5, 10 (wherein plaintiffs aver that they believe themselves to qualified to sit for the July, 2003 Louisiana State Bar Examination on account of their education, the substantial equivalent of residency, and high moral character).
See Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief at ¶¶ 5, 12, 13.
The thrust of the plaintiffs' claims for relief is that past and prospective refusals to permit non-resident plaintiffs to participate in the Louisiana State Bar Examination constitute improper attempts to establish immigration policy and that Section 3(B) of Rule XVII of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Louisiana as interpreted by the recent decisions is tantamount to unlawful discrimination against the suspect class of nonimmigrant aliens lawfully admitted and employed in the United States, such discriminatory treatment allegedly amounting to a denial of due process, equal protection of laws and a violation of the Supremacy Clause. Id. at ¶¶ 32, 34, 35. Plaintiffs seek the issuance of "injunctive, mandatory and prohibitory" relief against the Louisiana Supreme Court Justices and Bar Administration Officials prohibiting ongoing "unconstitutional action" and issuance of a rule mandating an equivalency determination regarding non-immigrant aliens lawfully employed in the United States such that their residency status does not serve to bar their permission to sit for the July 2003 Louisiana State Bar Examination assuming arguendo that all other requirements of Rule XVII are met. See Plaintiffs' Complaint at ¶ 39 et seq.
Pursuant to the plaintiffs' request, the district judge set a conference for the purposes of scheduling a hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction and discussing the parameters that would govern discovery in the interim. See Minute Entry dated March 20, 2003. On March 27, 2003, the plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint joining Maureen D. Affleck as a party plaintiff herein, further alleging violations of NAFTA, inter alia. See Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint [Rec. Doc. No. 8]. On April 4, 2003, the defendants filed the subject motion to quash and/or to stay all discovery on the basis of absolute judicial immunity as prescribed by the statute, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. It is noteworthy that the plaintiffs have explicitly acknowledged the unavailability of injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, except as an alternative if declaratory relief is unavailable. See Correspondence dated April 14, 2003 [Exhibit "A" to Defendants' Reply Memorandum].
Plaintiffs admit that legal issues predominate in this case and may prove decisive, however, they further argue that there are some factual highlights which the district court may find interesting which may be adduced via requests for admissions. See Plaintiffs' Motion to Set a Conference [Rec. Doc. No. 3].
II. CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES
Defendants submit that because they have raised immunity issues, and in particular absolute judicial immunity from suit, the Court should relieve them of the obligation to respond to intrusive and irrelevant discovery requests propounded by the plaintiffs. See Defendant's Motion to Quash at p. 2. Defendants contend that prospective relief, whether injunctive or declaratory, is not available against a judge pursuant to § 1983 except in limited circumstances, i.e., when "a declaratory judgment is violated or declaratory relief is unavailable." 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as amended by the Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1996, Pub.L. No. 104-317. Defendants underscore the policy underlying immunity, which serves the ends of avoiding distraction of officials from their governmental duties, and highlights that "`even such pretrial matters as discovery are to be avoided.'" See Defendants' Memorandum in Support of Motion to Quash at p. 3 (citing Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526 (1985) and Vander Zee v. Reno, 73 F.3d 1365, 1368-69 (5th Cir. 1996)). Alternatively, the defendants argue that they are also insulated from suit on the basis of absolute legislative immunity insofar as plaintiffs allegations address the function of "rule-making." Id. at p. 4 (citing Supreme Court of Va. v. Consumers Union of the United States, 446 U.S. 719, 734 (1980) and McFarland v. Folsom, 854 F. Supp. 862, 875-876 (M.D. Ala. 1994)). Essentially, the defendants argue that unless and until the district judge determines the issues of immunities raised by the pleadings — i.e., absolute judicial, legislative, and sovereign immunity — it is improper to proceed with even limited discovery. Id. (citing Heitschmidt v. City of Houston, 161 F.3d 834, 840 (5th Cir. 1998)).
See Defendants' Reply Memorandum at p. 4 n. 3.
Plaintiffs argue in opposition that because the defendants are not entitled to either qualified or absolute immunity as a matter of law, a stay of discovery is not warranted. Plaintiffs contend that because they are restricting their principal relief to that which is declaratory in nature with an alternative request that the Court maintain jurisdiction in the event that a declaratory judgment is not sufficient, they are entitled to discovery at the outset of these proceedings. Moreover, plaintiffs submit that because the defendants are sued in their enforcement capacities as opposed to their judicial capacities their immunity defenses are inapplicable. Plaintiffs submit that they have exhausted their state court remedies, and contrarily, that there are no prior or pending state proceedings. Plaintiffs contend that it is well-established that judicial immunity is not a bar to prospective injunctive relief.
Relying on the Supreme Court's decision in Supreme Court of Va. v. Consumers Union, 446 U.S. 719 (1980), plaintiffs argue that because the defendants are before the Court in an enforcement capacity only, their claims of absolute judicial immunity are irrelevant and without merit.
See Plaintiffs' Memorandum in Opposition to Motion to Quash at p. 9 ( Citing Pulliam v. Allen, 466 U.S. 522, 541-42 (1984) for the proposition judicial immunity is not a bar to prospective injunctive and declaratory relief against a judicial officer).
III. ANALYSISAt the outset, the Court notes that the record reflects the individual Supreme Court Justices and the Bar Administration Officials have only been sued in their respective official capacities and that, other than the addition of Maureen Affleck as a party plaintiff, the plaintiffs original petition has not been amended in any significant part, except to add more claims based on precisely the same set of facts. More to the point, plaintiffs continue to seek money damages (attorney's fees and costs), injunctive and declaratory relief against the defendant Justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court and certain Louisiana Bar Admissions Officers in their official capacities as such, respectively, for allegedly discriminatory conduct in their official capacities by denying equivalency status and effectively refusing to allow plaintiffs' the opportunity for admission to the bar on the basis of their non-resident alien status.
There can be little, if any controversy in this case regarding the fact that the Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana is an arm of the State. It is also well-settled in the jurisprudence that Bar Admissions Officials acting on behalf of the Louisiana Supreme Court with respect to the bar admissions process, act as an arm of that Court. Additionally, the Court observes that a suit against state officials in their official capacities is not a suit against the officials but rather is a suit against the officials' offices and is, in effect, no different from a suit against the State itself. Defendants have raised a number of immunity defenses, not the least of which is sovereign immunity, which generally is available to an "arm of the state" as well as the state itself, "regardless of the nature of the relief sought." In the Pennhurst State School decision, the Supreme Court observed:
Other federal courts considering actions against state courts have reached the same conclusion — i.e., that a State's highest court is an arm of the state. See, e.g., McFarland v. Folsom, 854 F. Supp. 862, 872 (M. D. Ala. 1994); Kaimowitz v. The Florida Bar, 996 F.2d 1151, 1155 (11th Cir. 1993).
See, e.g., Ware v. Wyoming Board of Law Examiners, 973 F. Supp. 1339 (D. Wy. 1997); McFarland, 854 F. Supp. at 872; Ramos v. California Committee of Bar Examiners, 857 F. Supp. 702, 705 (N.D. Cal. 1994); see also Forman v. Ours, 804 F. Supp. 864, 868 (E. D. La. 1992) (Arceneaux, J.), aff'd, 996 F.2d 306 (5th Cir. 1993) (noting that the Louisiana Bar Association and the Disciplinary Board was created by Section 4 of Rule 19 of the Rules of the Louisiana Supreme Court, which court oversees the operation of the Disciplinary Board — i.e., a arm of the state).
Alicea v. Grenada County, 1997 WL 206767 (N.D. Miss. 1997) (Senter, Chief Judge). See also Pennhurst State School v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984) (same); Moity v. Louisiana State Bar Association, 414 F. Supp. 180, 182 (E.D. La), aff'd without opinion, 537 F.2d 1141 (5th Cir. 1976); Harris v. Louisiana State Supreme Court. 334 F. Supp. 1289, 1300-01 (E. D. La. 1971) (Boyle, J.). But see Will, 491 U.S. at 71 n. 10 (citing Kentucky v. Graham. 473 U.S. 159, 167 n. 14 (1985) and Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 159-160 (1908) for the proposition that state officials sued in their official capacity for injunctive relief are considered "persons" under § 1983 because "official-capacity actions for prospective relief are not treated as actions against the State").
There may be a question, however, whether a particular suit in fact is a suit against a State. It is clear, of course, that in the absence of consent a suit in which the State or one of its agencies or departments is named as the defendant is proscribed by the Eleventh Amendment. See, e.g., Florida Department of Health v. Florida Nursing Home Assn., 450 U.S. 147 (1981) ( per curiam); Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781 (1978) ( per curiam.) This jurisdictional bar applies regardless of the nature of the relief sought. See, e.g., Missouri v. Fiske. 290 U.S. 18, 27 (1933) ("Expressly applying to suits in equity as well as at law, the Amendment necessarily embraces demands for the enforcement of equitable rights and prosecution of equitable remedies when these are asserted and prosecuted by an individual against the State").Pennhurst State School, 465 U.S. at 100-01. Neither a State, nor its officials acting within their official capacities are "persons" within the meaning of § 1983.
Moreover, it is clear that Title 42, Section 1983 of the United States Code now sets forth certain express judicial immunities discussed hereinbelow. In 1996, Congress enacted the Federal Courts Improvement Act ("FCIA"), Pub.L. No. 104-317, which legislatively overruled Pullianm v. Allen, 466 U.S. 522, 541-42 (1984) in several significant respects The FCIA restored the defense of absolute judicial immunity from suit. Section 309 provides:
Although the doctrine of judicial immunity provides that a judge is not liable for monetary damages for acts performed in the exercise of his judicial functions, the Supreme Court held in 1984 that "judicial immunity is not a bar to prospective injunctive relief against a judicial officer acting in her judicial capacity" or to costs and attorney's fees associated with the action. Pulliam, 466 U.S. at 541-42.
See, e. g., Kampfer v. Scullin, 989 F. Supp. 194, 201 (N.D. N.Y. 1997) (observing that the FCIA legislatively overruled Pulliam in several important aspects); Mitchell v. Fishbein, 216 F. Supp.2d 283, 287 (S.D. N.Y. 2002) (holding Congress has provided that injunctive relief shall not be granted in a § 1983 action against a judicial officer for an alleged act or omission taken in such officer's official capacity, unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable); Brooks v. New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, 2002 WL 31528632, at * 2 (E. D. N.Y. Aug. 16, 2002) (dismissing plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief against the New York State Supreme Court and the Bar Disciplinary Committee and holding that the FCIA "effectively reversed the Court's ruling in Pulliam").
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no judicial officer shall be held liable for any costs, including attorney's fees, in any action brought against such officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity, unless such action was clearly in excess of such officer's jurisdiction.
(b) Section 722(b) of the Revised Statutes ( 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b)) is amended by inserting before the period at the end of thereof", except that in an action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity such officer shall not be held liable for any costs, including attorney's fees, unless such action was clearly in excess of such officer's jurisdiction."
(c) Section 1979 of the Revised Statutes ( 42 U.S.C. § 1983)) is amended by inserting before the period at the end of the first sentence: ", except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable."
Pub.L. No. 104-317 (emphasis supplied). By its clear terms, section 309 bars awards of injunctive relief against judges for acts or omissions taken in their judicial capacities in § 1983 actions, unless a declaratory decree was violated or was unavailable. See id. at § (c) (importing doctrine of absolute judicial immunity into the statutory framework of § 1983).
Here, the plaintiffs do not allege that the Justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court or the Bar Admission Officers violated a declaratory decree or that declaratory relief was unavailable. Moreover, in addition to seeking mandatory/coercive injunctive relief requiring the plaintiffs admission to the Louisiana Bar provided that certain conditions are met, plaintiffs seek declaratory relief holding Louisiana's bar admission rules unconstitutional as applied to a certain class of non-citizens, who lawfully reside and work within the United States. Any suggestion that declaratory relief "was unavailable" is belied by the plaintiffs' pleadings seeking declaratory relief in the instant proceeding.
It is settled law that "admission to a jurisdiction's Bar is neither a legislative, administrative, nor a ministerial act, but is peculiarly a judicial function, for it is within the exclusive province of the judiciary to determine who is permitted to practice before the courts " "It is admitted judicially — almost if not quite universally — that the prescribing of the ultimate qualifications for admission to the bar is a judicial function." The Sixth Circuit in Sparks v. Character and Fitness Committee, 859 F.2d 428 (6th Cir. 1988) characterized the act of exercising the power of determining eligibility for membership to the bar as an inherently judicial function, to wit:
Julien v. Committee of Bar Examiners, 923 F. Supp. 707, 714 (D.C.V.I. 1996); McFarland, 854 F. Supp. at 875 (same)); see also District of Columbia Ct. of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 476-82 (1983); In re Summers, 325 U.S. 561 (1945); Sparks v. Character and Fitness Committee, 859 F.2d 428 (6th Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 489 U.S. 1011 (1989); Brown v. Bar Examiners of Nevada, 623 F.2d 605, 610 (9th Cir. 1980); Hale v. Committee on Character and Fitness, 2002 WL 398524 * 5 (N.D. Ill.) (holding the Committee's decision not to recertify Hale constituted a judicial determination and that the Illinois Supreme Court's denial of the petition for review is an adoption of the Committee's decision as its own, and thus concluding that the plaintiffs "as applied" constitutional challenge barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine). See also Moity v. La. State Bar Association, 121 So.2d 87, 90 (La. 1960) (admission of an individual to the bar is regarded as a judicial function).
See Ex Parte Steckler, 154 So. 41, 45 (La. 1934).
Some functions performed by courts are so inherently related to the essential functioning of the courts as to be traditionally regarded as judicial acts. Determining the composition of the bar is just such an historic and traditional function. The establishment of criteria for determining the intellectual competence, academic preparedness, and moral fitness of persons who petition the court for the privilege of undertaking the confidential trust of serving the court as one of its professional officers has always been a function confined to the courts themselves. It has been universally thought that the courts are best equipped to understand the requirements for adequate representation of lay persons before the courts and to identify the qualifications of those who would undertake such representation as the courts' officers. That inherent expertise, and the exercise of the power to apply it in admitting and rejecting candidates to the practice of law, functions rooted in tradition and history, are arguably as fundamental to the sound functioning of the judiciary as is the task of resolving disputes such officers present.Sparks, 859 F.2d at 434. The Sparks court concluded that absolute judicial immunity shielded not only judges performing that inherently judicial function, but also the members of the committee, who act on behalf of the court, finding it no less a judicial act simply because it is performed by nonjudicial officers in whom the responsibility is lawfully delegated by the judiciary. Id. at 431. In Brooks v. The New York State Supreme Court, 2002 WL 31528632 (E. D. N. Y), the district court held that the the plaintiffs claims against the court and the disciplinary committee failed for lack of a sound legal basis for his claim, citing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Brooks sought injunctive relief in the form of reinstatement to the practice of law or a hearing regarding the alleged violations. Noting that "Section 309(c) of the FCIA bars injunctive relief in any section 1983 action against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity," the court dismissed plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief sua sponte. Here, the sole basis of the plaintiffs § 1983 claims is a peculiarly and inherently judicial function, i.e., acts or omissions which negatively affect admissions to the Louisiana Bar, insofar as non-resident aliens applicant's are concerned.
Plaintiffs' citation of Supreme Court of Va. v. Consumers Union, 446 U.S. 719 (1980), a case that pre-dates the FCIA of 1996, is inapplicable. The Supreme Court in Consumers Union did not decide whether judicial immunity would bar prospective Injunctive and declaratory relief. This Court recognizes the holding that the Virginia Court and its members were proper defendants in the suit for declaratory and injunctive relief, because the justices were liable in their enforcement capacities. However, the Supreme Court was referring to the Virginia Court's authority to initiate proceedings against attorneys for violating the Bar's code of ethics Consumers Union, 446 U.S. at 736. The instant case does not involve any action or omission even remotely connected to the Louisiana Bar's code of conduct. Moreover, it does not concern either the Disciplinary Board, disciplinary proceedings, disciplinary rules, or any act or omission relative to initiating or conducting any disciplinary or investigatory proceedings.
The Court now addresses the plaintiffs' argument that, by virtue of their "motion to deny immunity" and/or argument in opposition to motion to quash, this case has metamorphosed into one seeking declaratory relief only. The undersigned is not persuaded by the plaintiffs' unprecedented suggestion that they are entitled to proceed with discovery regarding their claim for declaratory relief only and that the Court should simply ignore their pending claims for injunctive relief and damages ( i.e., attorney's fees and costs) for the moment. Plaintiffs' original complaint admits in no uncertain terms that all of their claims for relief arise out the same facts. Plaintiffs' contention that discovery should go forward regarding a narrow menu of claims defies all of the pleading rules and permits an end run around the Fifth Circuit requirement that the district court determine the immunity issues at the earliest stage of the proceedings.
See Heitschmidt v. City of Houston, 161 F.3d 834, 840 (5th Cir. 1998) (holding that the district court properly refused to allow even limited discovery before deciding the immunity issues).
At all times, control of discovery is committed to the sound discretion of the trial court. A plaintiffs entitlement to discovery prior to a ruling on a dispositive motion is not unlimited and may be undercut, where, as here, the record demonstrates and plaintiffs' admit that the requested discovery is not likely to produce facts relevant to the merits of a dispositive pending motion. In Williamson v. United States Department of Agriculture, 815 F.2d 368, 382 (5th Cir. 1987), the Fifth Circuit observed:
See, e. g., Williamson v. United States Department of Agriculture. 815 F.2d 368, 382 (5th Cir. 1987).
In the particular context of claims against the United States and federal officials, particular considerations weigh heavily. In Harlow v. Fitzgerald, supra, the Supreme Court noted that the protection afforded government officials by the doctrines of absolute and qualified immunity would be greatly depreciated if it did not include protection from discovery. 475 U.S. at 816-18, 102 S.Ct. at 2737-38. The Court specifically referred to Halperin v. Kissinger, 606 F.2d 1192 (D.C. Cir. 1979), aff'd in pertinent part, 452 U.S. 713, 101 S.Ct. 3132, 69 L.Ed.2d 367 (1981), for the proposition that close control of discovery is essential to the preservation of meaningful official immunity. 475 U.S. at 818, n. 29, 102 S.Ct. at 2738, n. 29. Halperin noted that uncontrolled discovery in the course of insubstantial lawsuits constitutes a form of harassment imposing an undue burden on public officials and government agencies. 606 F.2d at 1209. See also Chagnon v. Bell, 642 F.2d 1248, 1265-66 (D.C. Cir. 1980) (rejecting claim of abuse of discretion based on stay of discovery in case against federal officials), cert. denied, 453 U.S. 911, 101 S.Ct. 3142, 69 L.Ed.2d 994 (1981). For all these reasons, the Supreme Court advised that "[u]ntil this threshold immunity question is resolved, discovery should not be allowed." Harlow, supra. 475 U.S. at 818, 102 S.Ct. at 2738.Williamson, 815 F.2d at 382.
The doctrines of absolute and quasi-judicial immunity and absolute legislative immunity have already been raised by the defendant as a defense to all of the plaintiffs' claims made in the instant proceeding. The defendants have further raised the issue of "sovereign immunity." The defendants' claim of absolute judicial immunity conferred by statute is the basis of its motion to quash and/or to stay discovery, as well as the fact that outstanding discovery requests are irrelevant to issues inherent in the defendants' immunity claims. Plaintiffs' opposition memorandum, alternatively entitled "Motion to Deny Absolute or Qualified Immunity to the Defendants as a Matter of Law," essentially admits that discovery is not relevant to the determination regarding immunity issues currently pending.
Clearly, absolute judicial immunity as set forth in Section 309, which statutorily overruled Pulliam in significant part, applies at least to the plaintiffs' case, i.e., claims for prospective relief and damages for acts or omissions of the defendants in their judicial capacities. It is abundantly clear from the record to date that the defendants have also raised the shield of the doctrine sovereign immunity.
Various immunity defenses raised by the defendants in this lawsuit were intended to balance the need to stem abuses of office with the expense of litigation, the diversion of official energy from pressing public issues, and deterrence from government service. Immunity further protects these competing interests while allowing trial courts to resolve "insubstantial claims" before trial.
Harlow, 457 U.S. at 818.
The statute itself (§ 1983) now cloaks judges performing judicial functions with immunity from suit seeking either or both damages and prospective injunctive relief. This case does not involve any of the exceptions to either the common law absolute or quasi-judicial immunity or statutory judicial immunity. Plaintiffs' request for declaratory relief in this pending case itself negates the argument that declaratory relief was not available. Plaintiffs do not complain of any violation of a prior declaratory decree. Unless and until the defendants' claims of immunity are determined, they are entitled to a stay of all discovery in this proceeding. This holds particularly, in the case at bar, where all of the plaintiffs' claims for relief allegedly, and therefore, admittedly, arise out the same set of facts. Plaintiffs outstanding discovery requests run the gamut and are not narrowly tailored to address only immunity issues. In oral argument, plaintiffs could only argue that the district judge may find some answers to outstanding discovery "interesting."
For all of the foregoing reasons and considering that the determination of the immunity issues will not hinge on any of the outstanding discovery requests, this Court has determined that the better course is to follow the rule set forth by the Fifth Circuit in Williamson, supra, and the Supreme Court in Harlow, supra — that is, to stay discovery in the captioned matter pending the resolution of all of the immunity issues. Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED that the defendants' Motion to Quash and/or Stay all Discovery pending a judicial determination of the immunity issues is hereby GRANTED.