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Ammond v. McGahn

decided: March 11, 1976.

AMMOND, ALENE S., IN HER CAPACITY AS A MEMBER OF THE SENATE OF NEW JERSEY AND INDIVIDUALLY, KARP, ZELDA, PAULL, LEE A., POWERS, FRANCIS J.
v.
JOSEPH L. MCGAHN; RAYMOND J. ZANE; JOSEPH A. MARESSA; JOHN J. HORN; EDWARD J. HUGHES, JR.; JOHN F. RUSSO; HERBERT J. BUEHLER; EUGENE J. BEDELL; JOSEPH P. MERLINO; ANNE C. MARTINDELL; JOHN A. LYNCH; BERNARD J. DWYER; JOHN J. FAY, JR.; ALEXANDER J. MENZA; THOMAS G. DUNN; STEPHEN B. WILEY; FRANK J. DODD; CARMEN A. ORECHIO; MARTIN L. GREENBERG; WYNONA M. LIPMAN; JAMES P. DUGAN; JOSEPH W. TUMULTY; WILLIAM V. MUSTO; JOSEPH HIRKALA; ANTHONY SCARDINO;, JOSEPH L. MC GAHN; RAYMOND J. ZANE; JOSEPH A. MARESSA; JOHN J. HORN; EDWARD J. HUGHES, JR.; JOHN F. RUSSO; HERBERT J. BUEHLER; EUGENE J. BEDELL; JOSEPH P. MERLINO; ANNE C. MARTINDELL; JOHN A. LYNCH; BERNARD J. DWYER; JOHN J. FAY, JR.; ALEXANDER J. MENZA; THOMAS G. DUNN; STEPHEN B. WILEY; FRANK J. DODD; CARMEN A. ORECHIO; MARTIN L. GREENBERG; WYNONA M. LIPMAN; JAMES P. DUGAN; JOSEPH W. TUMULTY; WILLIAM V. MUSTO; JOSEPH HIRKALA; ANTHONY SCARDINO; MATTHEW FELDMAN; JOHN M. SKEVIN; RAYMOND GARRAMONE; IN THEIR CAPACITY AS NEW JERSEY STATE SENATORS, MEMBERS OF THE NEW JERSEY STATE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS AND INDIVIDUALLY; JOHN KERFOTT, IN HIS CAPACITY AS SERGEANT-AT-ARMS OF THE NEW JERSEY STATE SENATE AND INDIVIDUALLY; JOHN C. TARANTINO AND DAVID GOLDBERG IN THEIR CAPACITY AS COUNSEL FOR THE SENATE MAJORITY CAUCUS AND INDIVIDUALLY; AND GEORGE CALLAS, IN HIS CAPACITY AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE SENATE MAJORITY AND INDIVIDUALLY, APPELLANTS



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY (D.C. Civil No. 75-163).

Van Dusen, Adams and Rosenn, Circuit Judges.

Author: Van Dusen

Opinion OF THE COURT

VAN DUSEN, Circuit Judge

We are here presented with an appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(a)(1) from the grant of a preliminary injunction, restraining and enjoining defendants from excluding Senator Alene S. Ammond from the New Jersey State Senate Democratic Conference ("Democratic Caucus"). We reverse for failure of the record to show imminent and irreparable harm to plaintiffs.

I. FACTS

Ms. Ammond was elected to the New Jersey State Senate in November 1973 to represent the Sixth Senatorial District. She ran for office as a Democrat, after having won a Democratic primary race in her District. After assuming office in January 1974, she regularly attended the scheduled meetings of the Democratic Caucus. Several events occurred, starting in September 1974, which caused Senator Ammond to incur the displeasure of many of her colleagues in the Caucus. The first was the publication in Today Magazine of an article entitled "Terror of Trenton" (75a). Senator Ammond testified:

"They felt that it put them in a very bad light, and Senator Maressa from my neighboring county lead the caucus against me and said he felt that I was not to be trusted in the caucus, that I was not one of them, that I was not part of their group, and what were we going to do about it.

"At that particular time we had words, there was no formal censure, although there certainly were very hostile and strong feelings against me. . . ." (76a).

In late 1974 or early 1975, Senator Ammond overheard two conversations among her colleagues covering the State Commission of Investigation,*fn1 and she reported the substance of those conversations to the press because they "were so relevant to the public well-being . . . that I could not keep it quiet." Id. Several members of the Caucus were greatly displeased by her action. Another source of displeasure with Senator Ammond was her attack on the propriety of the Caucus hearing a delegation from Hudson County seeking to influence the Caucus' deliberations.*fn2

On January 20, 1975, a resolution was introduced in the Caucus to exclude Senator Ammond. The discussion which followed became heated and Senator Ammond left, saying "I don't feel that I can discuss this issue with you in a rational manner, and when things calm down I would be very happy to discuss the issue." App. at 82a. Senator Ammond next attempted to attend a Caucus meeting on January 27, but she was prevented from entering the meeting room by the Sergeant-at-Arms of the New Jersey State Senate, who informed her that she was temporarily ousted from the Caucus.

Almost immediately thereafter, Senator Ammond and several of her constituents filed the complaint, leading to the injunction challenged here, in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Injunctive relief was sought under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985(3), and jurisdiction was claimed under 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3)*fn3 and (4). The gravamen of the complaint was that the acts of the defendants deprived the plaintiffs of rights secured to them by the United States Constitution.*fn4 On January 31, the district court issued a temporary restraining order directing the defendants not to exclude or bar Senator Ammond from entering into the Democratic Caucus. The district court further ordered that the defendants show cause why the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction should not be granted.

Some time after she left the Caucus meeting on January 20, an ad hoc committee concerning Senator Ammond was formed.*fn5 Senator Ammond testified that she was not afforded an opportunity to testify before the committee or in any other way contribute to its deliberations. App. at 85a. On February 10, 1975, the committee issued a report which contained the following language:

"In keeping with the concept of an informal atmosphere and an opportunity for a trusting exchange of tentative views, it is understandable that some feel there should be at least a minimum of personal acceptance and respect among the participants. Anyone who does not share that ...


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