The opinion of the court was delivered by: GILES
Defendants move to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiffs are Charles Iseley, Sr., ("Iseley, Sr.") a former member and Chairman of the Civil Service Commission of Bristol Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and his son, Charles Iseley, Jr., ("Iseley, Jr."). They brought the underlying complaint seeking damages, a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief for asserted violations of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985(1)-(3), 1986 and 1988. They claim deprivation of rights guaranteed under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
Plaintiffs allege that the defendants, individually and collectively, engaged in a vendetta against them based upon racial and personal animus. They also assert pendent state claims.
Plaintiffs seek recovery from Judges Kenneth G. Biehn, Edward G. Biester, Jr., and Isaac S. Garb of the Court of Common Pleas, Bucks County, Pennsylvania; Leonard B. Sokolove, Solicitor for Bristol Township; Michael J. Kane, County District Attorney; Richard F. Batezel, County Detective; Bucks County as a political subdivision of the Commonwealth; John Doe Commissioners of Bristol Township and Unknown John and Jane Does, employees, agents, servants and/or officials of Bucks County;
Vincent L. Lattanzi; and Peter H. Kostmayer, a former United States Representative. Jurisdiction is properly invoked pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331(a) and 28 U.S.C. § 1343(1)-(4). For the reasons set forth herein, the motions to dismiss of defendants Biehn, Biester, Garb, Sokolove, Kane, and Kostmayer will be granted and plaintiffs' complaint as to them shall be dismissed with prejudice. As to defendants Bucks County, Batezel and Lattanzi, the motions to dismiss will also be granted. However, the complaint will be dismissed without prejudice with leave to amend.
Plaintiffs' claims arise out of a factual background which can best be summarized as four distinct events occurring between February, 1979 and June, 1981. First, while Iseley, Sr. was serving as Chairman of the Civil Service Commission of Bristol Township ("Commission") he instituted and conducted hearings to determine whether an undercover police officer should be discharged for illegal use of drugs. He asserts that defendant Sokolove, in his capacity as Solicitor for Bristol Township,
obstructed these hearings by filing dilatory pleadings in the Court of Common Pleas, and by instructing certain witnesses not to appear and testify at the scheduled hearings.
Second, Iseley, Sr. claims that Detective Batezel threatened his life in April, 1980 following a confrontation arising from his Commission's investigation into purported police involvement in local drug trafficking. He claims that District Attorney Kane thereafter failed to bring any criminal charges against Batezel. There is no allegation that a private criminal complaint was filed by Iseley, Sr.
Third, Iseley, Sr. was Director of the Lower Bucks Human Resources and Development Center, a half-way house for delinquent boys. Because of certain activities in connection with this position, he was charged with, and subsequently convicted of, forgery, tampering with public records, theft by deception, unsworn falsification to authorities, and securing execution of documents by deception.
He asserts that Judge Biester, who presided over his criminal trial, and Judge Garb, who made the case assignment, acted in excess of their jurisdiction and abused their authority by not recusing themselves from any involvement in his trial. Iseley, Sr. asserts that recusal was required since Judges Biester and Biehn, when they were formerly Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and District Attorney of Bucks County, respectively, had received formal complaints from him about drug trafficking in his community and had taken no action. Allegedly, on or about February 1, 1979, Iseley, Sr. made formal complaints concerning the conduct and activities of Biehn, as district attorney, presumably, relating to Biehn's investigation, or alleged lack thereof, into drug trafficking in the county. Iseley, Sr. asserts that Biester, as Attorney General, received the complaints but took no action. Iseley, Sr. also alleges that he later made complaints about Biester, as Attorney General, similar to those he made against Biehn as District Attorney. He further asserts that in 1979 Biester and Garb were members of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency which provided funds through grants for the operation of the Lower Bucks Human Resources and Development Center. Accordingly, Iseley, Sr. asserts that Biehn, Biester and Garb should have recused themselves from all involvement in his criminal trial, however, tangential.
In connection with the criminal charges against him, Iseley, Sr. further alleges that defendants Lattanzi and Kostmayer, provided false and misleading investigatory statements and trial testimony which led to his prosecution and criminal conviction on November 19, 1980. Allegedly, despite testimony by a witness at trial that he committed the criminal acts and not Iseley, Sr., Judge Biester refused to dismiss the charges.
Finally, it is alleged that in June, 1981, Judge Biehn, was assigned by Judge Garb to hear a juvenile case involving Iseley, Jr. Biehn did not recuse himself. Plaintiffs allege that defendants Biehn and Garb should have recused themselves from any involvement in Iseley, Jr.'s trial, due to their involvement in the events set forth above.
Defendants have asserted various immunity defenses as well as lack of specificity in pleading.
For purposes of clarity, defendants will be discussed according to the defenses which they have raised.
All the claims asserted against defendants Biehn, Biester, and Garb arise from actions undertaken in their capacity as judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County. These defendants properly assert that in this case, they are immune from suit for monetary damages under § 1983. ...