United States District Court, D. Maryland
SYLVESTER O. OKERE
MELVIN C. HIGH, et al.
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending and ready for resolution in this case are the
following motions: a motion to dismiss filed by Defendant
Melvin C. High ("Defendant") (ECF No. 7); and a
motion for default judgment filed by Plaintiff Sylvester 0.
Okere ("Plaintiff") (ECF No. 17). The issues have
been briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being
deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following
reasons, Defendant's motion to dismiss will be granted,
and Plaintiff's motion for default judgment will be
facts outlined here are set forth in the amended complaint
and construed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff.
Defendant is the elected Sheriff of Prince George's
County, Maryland. On June 14, 2016, he executed or "was
responsible for" the execution of a writ of possession
issued by the Circuit Court for Prince George's County in
the course of foreclosure proceedings. (ECF No. 3, at 2) .
"Defendant was given a Courtesy Package informing him of
the corruption and the distortion that [h]as taken place in
foreclosure proceedings that resulted in an eviction, "
but still executed the eviction. (Id. at 2) .
16, 2016, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a
complaint in this court. (ECF No. 1) He filed the amended
complaint on June 17. (ECF No. 3). Defendant filed the
instant motion to dismiss on June 20. (ECF No. 7) . Plaintiff
was provided with a Roseboro notice (ECF No. 8),
which advised him of the pendency of the motion to dismiss
and his entitlement to respond within seventeen days from the
date of the letter. Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d
309, 310 (4th Cir. 1975) . Plaintiff responded
(ECF No. 9), and Defendant replied (ECF No. 11) . Plaintiff
also filed a response to Defendant's reply. (ECF No. 13).
On August 9, 2016, Plaintiff filed a "Notice of
Default" (ECF No. 14), and on August 29, he filed the
pending motion for default judgment (ECF No. 17).
argues that quasi-judicial immunity bars this action because
he "was directed to execute a writ of possession issued
by the circuit court, and . . . such activity is integral to
the judicial process." (ECF No. 7, at 5-8) .
Plaintiff's amended complaint declares that he is
"stating a claim of trespassing" against Defendant
based on "executing an eviction due to foreclosure,
" and alleges that Defendant "violated his Oath of
Office" by executing the eviction despite his "duty
to protect [Plaintiff] from the corruption and distortion and
the foreclosure industry [.]" (ECF No. 3, at 1, 3).
Plaintiff admits that the eviction was ordered by the court
in his foreclosure proceeding. (Id. at 2 ("The
order in which the Defendant acted upon, was an order from
administrative procedure .... The basis of the authority for
the administrative procedures was based on statutes and codes
of the State of Maryland [ . ] ")) . His claim appears
to be based on the argument that the foreclosure action was
in violation of the Fifth, Seventh, and Tenth Amendments to
the Constitution, and that he is not "subject" to
the laws or jurisdiction of Maryland. (Id. at 2).
Plaintiff did not respond to Defendant's arguments on
immunity in his opposition to the motion to dismiss, although
he argues that the foreclosure process violated the Seventh
Amendment. (See ECF No. 9 ¶ 5) . As
Plaintiff's claim challenges the underlying foreclosure
proceedings and the laws and procedures governing those
proceedings, it is clearly premised on the fact that
Defendant executed a court-ordered writ of possession.
immunity bars Plaintiff's suit against Defendant. As
Judge Blake has noted:
Absolute quasi-judicial immunity extends to non-judicial
officers "performing tasks so integral or intertwined
with the judicial process that those persons are considered
an arm of the judicial officer who is immune." Bush
v. Rauch, 38 F.3d 842, 847 (6th Cir. 1994) .
The basis for affording non-judicial officials absolute
immunity is to avoid the "danger that disappointed
litigants, blocked by the doctrine of absolute immunity from
suing the judge directly [would] vent their wrath on clerks,
court reporters, and other judicial adjuncts."
Sindram v. Suda, 986 F.2d 1459, 1461 (D.C. Cir.
1993) (alteration in original) (quoting Dellenbach v.
Letsinger, 889 F.2d 755, 763 (7th Cir.
1989)). Courts have therefore extended absolute immunity to
protect, among others, clerks of court, law enforcement
officers, and others who enforce court orders. See, e.g.,
Foster v. Walsh, 864 F.2d 416, 417-18
(6th Cir. 1988) (holding the clerk of court to be
absolutely immune for issuing an erroneous warrant pursuant
to the court's order); Henry v. Farmer City State
Bank, 808 F.2d 1228, 1238-39 (7th Cir. 1986)
("[Police officers, sheriffs, and other court officers
who act in reliance on a facially valid court order are
entitled to quasi-judicial immunity from suit.").
Kendrick v. Cavanaugh, No. CCB-10-2207, 2011 WL
2837910, at *4 (D.Md. July 14, 2011); see also Horowitz
v. Mason, No. DKC-15-3478, 2016 WL 1536321, at *5 (D.Md.
Apr. 15, 2016) . Here, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant took
action pursuant to the Circuit Court's order. Defendant
was acting as an arm of the court in executing the writ of
possession and is therefore immune from suit. Accordingly,
Plaintiff's claim against Defendant will be dismissed.
Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment
amended complaint, Plaintiff stated that Defendant was
"required to answer this complaint within 30 days after
service." (ECF No. 3, at 3). On August 29, he filed the
pending motion for default judgment, arguing that Plaintiff
had failed to answer the complaint within 30 days and
requesting the court grant a default judgment in the amount
of $11.5 million. (ECF No. 17) . The Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure govern this action, and Plaintiff's pleading
did not alter those procedures. Defendant responded to
Plaintiff's complaint by timely filing a motion to
dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b) (6), which tolls the time
period for serving an answer until the court denies the
motion, postpones its disposition until trial, or grants a
motion for a more definite statement. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(a) (4)
. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion for default judgment
will be denied.
foregoing reasons, the motion to dismiss filed by Defendant
Melvin C. High will be granted, and the motion for default
judgment filed by Plaintiff Slyvester 0. ...