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Sevier v. Hickenlooper

United States District Court, D. Colorado

January 18, 2018

JOHN HICKENLOOPER, in his Official Capacity as Governor of Colorado, CYNTHIA COFFMAN, in her Official Capacity as Attorney General, MATT CRANE, in his Capacity as Supervisor Marriage License and County Rec of Arapahoe County, STACY WORTHINGTON, in her Capacity as Assistant Attorney General in Colorado, and AUBREY ELENIS, Director of the Colorado Rights Division, Defendants. JOAN GRACE HARLEY, CHRIS SEVIER, JOHN GUNTER, JR., and WHITNEY KOHL, Plaintiffs,


          William J. Martínez United States District Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on the following filings: In Case No. 17-cv-1666-WJM-NYW:

• Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Involuntary Dismissal (ECF No. 46);
• Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint and Motion for Involuntary Dismissal (ECF No. 91);

         In Case No. 17-cv-1750-WJM-NYW:

• the State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 89);
• Defendant Crane's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 97);
• Defendant Crane's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint Doc. 101 (ECF No. 104); and,
• the State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint (ECF No. 105).

         The Court's Order also arises from the previously-entered Orders on Pending Filings and Case Procedures (ECF No. 80 in both cases), as well Plaintiffs' other filings, as cited below.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs, proceeding pro se, initiated these two actions in July 2017. Plaintiffs' filings describe Plaintiff Sevier as a “machinist, ” with a professed sexual orientation of “Objectophilia.” (Sevier, ECF No. 101 ¶ 1, 25.) Plaintiffs plead that Plaintiffs Gunter, Harley, and Kohl are polygamists and that Plaintiff Gunter “wants to marry multiple wives in Colorado.” (Id., ¶ 25; Harley, ECF No.75 ¶ 1.)[1] In Case No. 17-cv-1666-WJM-NYW, Plaintiffs sued Defendants Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd., and its proprietor, Mr. Jack Phillips (the “Cakeshop Defendants”).[2] In Case No. 17-cv-1750, Plaintiffs sued the Governor of Colorado, other state officials, and the Clerk and Recorder of Arapahoe County, Colorado (together, the “State Defendants, ” unless addressed separately).

         In these cases, Plaintiffs seek, respectively, to compel the Cakeshop Defendants to provide them with wedding cakes or related services, and to have the State Defendants issue them marriage licenses or to otherwise legally recognize Sevier's professed desire to marry a computer and Gunter, Harley, and Kohl's professed desire to enter a polygamist marriage.

         Following proceedings which the Court has summarized previously and does not repeat here, the Court entered Order[s] on Pending Filings and Case Procedures simultaneously in both cases. (Sevier, ECF No. 80; Harley, ECF No. 80.) These Orders overruled Plaintiffs' frivolous Rule 72 objections to procedural and case management actions taken by U.S. Magistrate Judge Nina Y. Wang, none of which had any dispositive effect on any of Plaintiffs' claims. (Sevier, ECF No. 80 at 3-6.)

         The Court also found that “pervasive failures” in Plaintiffs' improperly-filed motions for summary judgment warranted striking those motions, again, without reaching the merits of any claims. (Id. at 6.) In addition, the Court entered the following rulings addressed to Plaintiffs' then-clear pattern of consistently abusive docket filings in both cases:

[1.] Plaintiffs have rapidly cluttered the docket of this case with extraneous materials, principally including declarations of non-parties which bear no identified connection either to the material facts of this case or to any pending motion or pleading permitted by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or the Rules of this Court. (See, e.g., ECF Nos. 3-11, 22-26, 60, 77.) These materials serve only to unnecessarily confuse and congest the docket, thus obstructing the orderly advancement of this case. Pursuant to the Court's inherent power to control its docket, such extraneous filings are subject to being summarily stricken. The Court's docket is not a forum in which Plaintiffs may freely re-publish documents unauthorized by the Federal Rules which bear no connection to any pending pleading or motion.
[2.] [T]he most pervasive feature of Plaintiffs' filings to date has been their resort to histrionic and absurd ad hominem attacks, insults, and threats against Judge Wang. Such filings are entirely unacceptable. * * * Plaintiffs are hereby ORDERED to immediately cease all ad hominem attacks on Judge Wang. This Court can only adjudicate Plaintiffs' claims on their merits if Plaintiffs address their filings to those merits, without resort to baseless ad hominem attacks. Further insults and attacks of this kind will not be tolerated. Any pleadings-whether already docketed or filed in the future-which contain ad hominem attacks on any other judicial officer of this Court may be summarily stricken. ANY future violations of this Order may also subject Plaintiffs to sanctions, including being held in contempt of Court. Plaintiffs are hereby specifically put on notice that such possible sanctions may include this Court ordering that all of Plaintiffs' claims be dismissed with prejudice and attorney's fees and costs being awarded to one or more Defendants. Plaintiffs will proceed by showing appropriate and due respect to all judicial officers of this Court, or they will not proceed at all.

(Sevier, ECF No. 80 at 7-9 (emphasis as in original).)

         Shortly after the Court entered those Orders, Plaintiff Sevier filed motions in both cases, for the first time arguing that the undersigned was also biased, and seeking the recusal of both Judge Wang and the undersigned. The Court recently denied these motions, noting they were themselves flagrantly and intentionally violative of the Court's admonition against ad hominem attacks. (Sevier, ECF No. 120; Harley, ECF No. 110.)

         In addition, Defendants in both cases have filed motions to dismiss all claims, and have renewed those motions following amendment of Plaintiffs' claims. Defendants argue, inter alia, that the Court lacks jurisdiction, that Plaintiffs have failed to state any viable claim for relief, and that Plaintiffs' claims should be involuntarily dismissed under Rule 41(b) and/or the Court's inherent ...

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