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Elansari v. Philadelphia Municipal Court

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

January 6, 2020

AMRO ELANSARI, Plaintiff,
v.
PHILADELPHIA MUNICIPAL COURT, et.al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          KEARNEY, J.

         Amro Elansari's latest frivolous pro se claim in this Court involves suing the Philadelphia Municipal Court and two Municipal Court Judges arising from their judicial duties in enforcing the rules of state court while addressing his cases in Philadelphia Court, and on a case where he seemingly represents other persons.[1] He also moves for leave to proceed in forma pauperis [2] We grant Mr. Elansari leave to proceed in forma pauperis.We dismiss his Complaint as legally frivolous as he cannot sue a state court and judges when he disagrees with their decisions following the rules of the Municipal Court. His remedy is a timely appeal in the state court not suing judges.

         I. Alleged pro se facts.

         Mr. Elansari pro se alleges "constitutional injuries to rights/due process."[3] Mr. Elansari is not an attorney. He prepares legal documents and provides legal services for individuals with legal matters pending in the Philadelphia Municipal Court. On one such occasion when he appeared as a client's representative, Judge Barbara Gilbert reprimanded him, apparently because his representation did not comply with applicable court rules.[4] Mr. Elansari also takes issue with Judge Gilbert's handling of his own case. He seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief "in the form of having the Courthouse instructed to comply with the rule of law and leave [him] ... alone."[5]

         II. Analysis

         A. We allow Mr. Elansari to proceed in forma pauperis.

         We grant Mr. Elansari leave to proceed in forma pauperis as he is incapable of paying the fees to commence the civil action. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), we must dismiss his Complaint if it is frivolous. A complaint is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact, "[6] and is legally baseless if it is "based on an indisputably meritless legal theory."[7] As Mr. Elansari is proceeding pro se, we construe his allegations liberally.[8]

         B. We dismiss Mr. Elansari's civil rights claims as frivolous.

         "To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law."[9] Mr. Elansari's claims against the Philadelphia Municipal Court fails because state courts are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit and are not considered "persons" for purposes of § 1983.[10]

         Mr. Elansari's claims against Judge Gilbert fail because they are barred by absolute judicial immunity. We understand Mr. Elansari is alleging civil rights claims against Judge Gilbert based on the way she applied a Municipal Court rule and the manner in which she spoke to him while presiding in court. Judges are entitled to absolute immunity from civil rights claims which are based on acts or omissions taken in their judicial capacity, so long as they do not act in the complete absence of all jurisdiction, which is clearly the case here.[11]

         Mr. Elansari also sues Judge Patrick Dugan, but other than listing Judge Dugan in the caption, Mr. Elansari makes no substantive allegations against him. If the claims are based on Judge Dugan's application of the same Municipal Court rules in cases he presided over in the court, as they appear to be, then those claims are also subject to immunity. Even if Mr. Elansari's claims are not barred by principles of immunity, he does not plausibly allege a judge violated his constitutional rights.

         III. Conclusion

         We grant Mr. Elansari leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismiss his Complaint as legally frivolous with ...


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