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Guajardo v. State Bar of Texas

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division

April 25, 2019

T. ANTHONY GUAJARDO, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE BAR OF TEXAS, STATE BAR OF ARIZONA, ARIZONA SUPREME COURT, SCOTT BALES, CHIEF JUSTICE, In His Official Capacity, STATE BAR OF ARIZONA, Defendants.

          ORDER

          XAVIER RODRIGUEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (docket no. 4; docket no. 7; docket no. 11), filed on January 11, 2019, January 16, 2019, and January 29, 2019 respectively. After careful consideration, the Court grants Defendants' motions.

         Background

         Plaintiff Anthony Guajardo sued the State of Arizona, the State Bars of Texas and Arizona, as well as the Arizona Supreme Court, and Chief Justice Scott Bales of the Arizona Supreme Court in his official capacity on December 18, 2019. (docket no. 1 at 1) Plaintiff alleges numerous due process claims against the defendants arising out of a disciplinary proceeding against him in Arizona that ultimately led to his disbarment there on February 2, 2017. (docket no. 1 at 1-5) The disbarment in Arizona also led to spill-over effects in Texas, namely, Plaintiff was disbarred here on August 7, 2017. (docket no. 4-2 at 5)

         Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief to the effect that the judgment of disbarment in Arizona should be invalidated and the disbarment in Texas vacated on the grounds that it was based on the aforementioned judgment and independent constitutional violations. (docket no. 1 at 49) Plaintiff also prays this Court grant declaratory judgment that the disciplinary regimen administered by the State Bar of Arizona is unconstitutional under the law of Arizona. Id. Lastly, Plaintiff alleges various theories of damages against the State of Arizona, the State Bar of Arizona, the Arizona Supreme Court, and Chief Justice Bales. Id. at 49-50.

         On July 10, 2015, the Arizona Supreme Court Attorney Discipline Probable Cause Committee reviewed an Arizona State Bar's investigatory report into Plaintiff's alleged misconduct by failure to appear in court on multiple occasions. On July 27, 2015, it found probable cause for the State Bar to file a complaint against Plaintiff. (docket no. 1 at exhibit 6) The following year, the same Committee reviewed a reported perjury violation on April 10, 2016. Id. The Committee again found probable cause for the Arizona State Bar to file another charge against Plaintiff. Id. On May 12, 2016 the State Bar of Arizona filed its complaint alleging Plaintiff committed perjury and failed to appear in court on multiple occasions despite warnings by the presiding judge. (docket no.1 at exhibit 6) On November 1, 2016, the State Bar of Arizona suspended Plaintiff's law license for one year and ordered him to undergo a mental health evaluation. (docket no. 4-1 at 1)

         Plaintiff elected to settle his case with the Arizona State Bar by consenting to his disbarment on January 31, 2017. (docket no. 4-2 at 2) On February 2, 2017, the presiding disciplinary judge accepted Plaintiff's consent to disbarment. Id. Word of Plaintiff's disbarment quickly reached the Texas State Bar, which soon began reciprocal disciplinary proceedings. (docket no. 4-3 at 1) A hearing was held before the Texas Board of Disciplinary Appeals for April 28, 2017. Id. Plaintiff informed the Board that he sent a notice of intent to appeal the disbarment in Arizona two days earlier on April 26, 2017. Id. Accordingly, the Board issued an order abating the disciplinary proceeding in Texas in the interim. Id. Plaintiff moved for an extension of time to file an appeal with the Arizona Board of Disciplinary Appeals on May 5, 2017, and on June 7, 2017, the presiding disciplinary judge struck Plaintiff's motion for extension of time and notice of appeal. (docket no. 4-1 at 1, 4) The Texas proceedings resumed, and the Texas Board of Disciplinary Appeals heard evidence and argument on August 4, 2017. (docket no. 4-2 at 1) On August 7, 2017 the Texas Board of Disciplinary Appeals formally disbarred Plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff did not file an appeal in the Texas Supreme Court. Plaintiff now seeks relief from these judgments against him. (docket no. 1)

         Legal Standard

         Defendants State Bar of Texas, State of Arizona, Arizona Supreme Court, Chief Justice Scott Bales, and the State Bar of Arizona assert numerous Rule 12(b) defenses. However, it suffices for the Court to only address the 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) defenses. Most of the claims presented are outside of the Court's subject matter jurisdiction. A motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction may be evaluated on the face of the complaint alone, the complaint plus undisputed facts in the record, or the complaint plus undisputed facts in the record and the court's resolution of disputed facts. Williamson v. Tucker, 645 F.2d 404, 413 (5th Cir. 1981). On the other hand, a Rule 12(b)(6) defense must be evaluated on the face of the complaint alone. See Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

         Analysis

         As a preliminary matter, the Court finds that Plaintiff's complaint violates Rules 8(a)(2) by not providing a short and plain statement of the grounds for the relief sought. Plaintiff presents thirty-five pages of facts, legal issues, and legal arguments before reaching his claims for relief. Most of his complaints center around the Presiding Disciplinary Judge William J. O'Neil, who conducted the disciplinary proceedings in Arizona. In his first claim for relief, Plaintiff alleges denial of due process and equal protection in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on numerous issues, including the alleged unconstitutional appointment of O'Neill, his lack of an oath of office, the unconstitutional delegation of prosecutorial authority to the State Bar of Arizona, lack of impartiality and due process violations in the underlying Arizona disbarment proceedings, and the fact that the State Bar of Texas failed to provide an appropriate level of due process protections in its disbarment proceeding.

         In his second cause of action, Plaintiff alleges a denial of the right to work and denial of First Amendment rights under the Arizona and U.S. Constitutions. In his third cause of action, he alleges that he was intentionally discriminated against based on his age and national origin. This claim appears to be focused on the underlying disciplinary proceedings and requests damages. Plaintiff's fourth cause of action alleges a “fraudulent scheme by Defendants with accompanying mail fraud, ” which challenges O'Neil's authority to act as a judge and the validity of his judgments, and asserts mail fraud based on the mailing of his judgments. Plaintiff complains that Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court Scott Bales breached his administrative duty to supervise O'Neil, knew or should have know that he is a “fake judge” who is not constitutionally seated, and breached fiduciary duties. Plaintiff requests monetary damages and injunctive relief “enjoining Defendants from continuing to perpetuate their fraud and abuse of power” and asks the Court to refer O'Neil to the FBI for falsely impersonating a Justice of the Supreme Court of Arizona.

         In his prayer for relief, Plaintiff asks for various relief, including: (1) a declaratory judgment that (a) appointment of a Presiding Disciplinary Judge pursuant to Rule 51 of the Arizona Supreme Court is unconstitutional, invalid, and void, (b) that the delegation authority to the State Bar of Arizona (a 501(c)(6) corporation with no prosecutorial authority) is unconstitutional, null, and void, (c) that Plaintiff's disbarment in Texas by the State Bar of Texas is null and void because it was based upon an invalid judgment of disbarment in Arizona; (2) preliminary and permanent injunctive relief restraining Defendants “from further implementing the system of disciplinary action through the use of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge (Judge William J. O'Neil) and the delegation of prosecutorial authority to the State Bar of Arizona; (3) monetary damages; and (4) punitive damages for intentionally violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.[1] Thus, Plaintiff primarily seeks to set aside his Texas disbarment and to have the Court invalidate the Arizona disbarment through a broad attack on Arizona's disciplinary system, in addition to seeking monetary damages for violations of the ADA and § 1983.

         The State Bar of Arizona moves for dismissal on various grounds, including that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's constitutional attacks on his disbarment and on Arizona's system of attorney discipline under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, lack of personal jurisdiction, improper venue, and Eleventh Amendment immunity. Docket no. 7. The State of Arizona, the Arizona Supreme Court, and Chief Justice Scott Bales also assert Eleventh Amendment immunity and the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, lack of personal jurisdiction, ...


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