United States District Court, D. Maryland
PAULA XINIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff, Kenneth Johnson, a former judge of the Circuit
Court for Baltimore City, filed a self-titled
“Preference” against Clifton J. Gordy, a retired
judge of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, sitting by
designation as a senior judge. ECF No. 1. Johnson alleges
that Gordy intentionally and wrongfully failed to recuse
himself from a case filed by Johnson in Circuit Court, giving
rise to various common law causes of action. Id.
Johnson further claims that Gordy's failure to recuse
himself and his subsequent ruling against Johnson were
motivated by animosity arising out of Johnson's
representation of Gordy's ex-wife in their 1973 divorce
proceedings. Id. Johnson asks this Court for an
evidentiary hearing. Id.
January 4, 2019, Gordy filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 4. The Court
notified Johnson that failure to respond to the Motion could
result in dismissal of the case. ECF No. 5. Johnson did not
respond. After review of the record, exhibits, and applicable
law, the Court deems a hearing unnecessary. See
Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons set forth
below, Gordy's Motion to Dismiss is granted.
Complaint allegations stem from Gordy's decisions in
Johnson's lawsuit, Johnson v. Joseph Banick, et
al., Circuit Court for Baltimore City, No.
24-C-05-001094. See ECF No. 4-2. Specifically, on
June 2, 2006, Gordy had granted judgment in favor of the
defendants based on Johnson's repeated discovery
violations and inability to articulate the manner in which he
intended to present his case-in-chief. Id. at 17;
see also ECF No. 4-5 at 3-5. The Maryland Court of
Special Appeals affirmed Gordy's decision in an
unpublished opinion on April 11, 2007. ECF No. 4-2 at 18.
seven years later, on February 5, 2014, Johnson filed suit
against Gordy in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.
See No. 24-C-13-006631. In it, Johnson averred that
Gordy had improperly presided over the 2006 lawsuit, thus
committing “judicial malpractice, ” abuse of
process and fraud. See ECF Nos. 4-3, 4-5 at 3.
Following a change of venue, on July 16, 2014, the Circuit
Court for Talbot County granted Gordy's motion to
dismiss. Id. On appeal, the Maryland Court of
Special Appeals affirmed the dismissal, holding that the law
of the case precluded Johnson from arguing that Gordy was
required to recuse himself. ECF No. 4-5 at 13.
September 12, 2016, Johnson filed a Complaint in federal
court against Gordy but failed to provide a summons form to
the clerk. Johnson v. Gordy, Civil Action No.
CCB-16-3139. On December 12, 2016, the Complaint was
dismissed without prejudice. Id. at ECF No. 4.
Johnson moved to strike the dismissal of the case, which was
denied on February 24, 2018. Id. at ECF No. 9.
8, 2017, Johnson again filed a Complaint in federal court
against Gordy. Johnson v. Gordy, Civil Action No.
JFM-17-1294. Although a summons issued in that case, Johnson
failed to serve Gordy and, therefore, the Complaint was
dismissed without prejudice on September 21, 2017.
Id. at ECF No. 5.
April 9, 2018, Johnson filed a third Complaint in federal
court against Gordy. Johnson v. Gordy, Civil Action
No. CCB-18-1019. Johnson attempted to serve Gordy by mailing
the summons to the Maryland Attorney General,  but Johnson sent
the unsigned form that he submitted to the Clerk instead of
the signed summons that was issued by the Clerk. See
Id. at ECF No. 6. In addition, the summons did not
specify the federal court in which the action was filed, nor
did it include a case number or a copy of the Complaint.
See ECF No. 4-6. By letter dated May 21, 2018, the
Office of the Attorney General advised Johnson of the
deficiency in service and summons. Id. Johnson
failed to correct the deficiency and, therefore, on August
17, 2018, his third Complaint was dismissed without
prejudice. Civil Action No. CCB-18-1019 at ECF No. 8.
October 9, 2018, Johnson filed this case. ECF No. 1. After
receiving the Complaint and summons, Gordy moved to dismiss
the Complaint in its entirety. For the following reasons,
this motion is granted.
Standard of Review
purpose of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is to test the
sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint. See Edwards
v. Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). Rule
8(a)(2) requires that the Plaintiff submit “a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” This pleading requirement is
designed to “give the defendant fair notice of what the
. . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007). Although the complaint need not include
“detailed factual allegations, ” it must include
more than labels and conclusions. Id. Factual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.” Id. Once a claim has
been stated adequately, it may be supported by showing any
set of facts consistent with the allegations in the
complaint. Id. However, the court need not accept
factually unsupported legal allegations, see Revene v.
Charles Cty Commr's, 882 F.2d 870, 873 (4th Cir.
1989), legal conclusions couched as factual allegations,
see Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986), or
conclusory factual allegations devoid of any reference to
actual events, see United Black Firefighters v.
Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979).
first contends that judicial immunity bars all claims in the
Complaint. Gordy is a Maryland Circuit Court Judge sued for
his decisions rendered in his judicial capacity. Accordingly,
Gordy is correct that this cause of action is barred by the
doctrine of judicial immunity. See Forrester v.
White, 484 U.S. 219, 226-27 (1988) (“If judges
were personally liable for erroneous decisions, the resulting
avalanche of suits, most of them frivolous ...