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PURMAL v. SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS

February 25, 2004.

MARTHE C. PURMAL, Plaintiff,
v.
SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS and ALAN J. GREIMAN, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: PAUL PLUNKETT, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Marthe Purmal has brought this suit pro se against defendants, the Illinois Supreme Court and Alan Greiman, an Illinois appellate court judge, alleging constitutional violations. Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(1) and Rule 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.

Facts

  Many of the allegations of Purmal's complaint refer to certain rules promulgated by the Illinois Supreme Court ("Illinois Supreme Court Rule") and their effect on appellate procedure. On a motion to dismiss, we are required to accept all well-pleaded factual allegations of the complaint as true and draw reasonable inferences in Purmal's favor. However, we are not required to credit Page 2 unreasonable inferences nor are we required to accept Purmal's interpretation of certain Illinois Supreme Court Rules. See Mickey v. O'Bannon, 287 F.3d 656, 658 (7th Cir. 2002). In addition, we may consider matters that are of public record or taken from sources "whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned." Fed.R.Evid. 201(b); see also General Elec. Capital Corp. v. Lease Resolution Corp., 128 F.3d 1074, 1084 (7th Cir. 1997) (discussing judicial notice). Having taken these considerations into account, the following recitation is drawn from the complaint.

  Purmal is a Chicago resident. The Illinois Supreme Court is the highest tribunal in the State of Illinois. Judge Alan Greiman is an Illinois appellate court judge in the first district. In 2001, Purmal was sued by the law firm of Robert N. Wadington & Associates ("Wadington Law Firm") for attorneys' fees stemming from a contingency fee contract Purmal executed in favor of the Wadington Law Firm. The trial court found in favor of the Wadington Law Firm and Purmal appealed to the Appellate Court of Illinois, First Judicial District. The appeal was considered by Judges Greiman, Hartman and Karnezis. Without oral argument, the appellate court affirmed the trial court in a December 19, 2002 order ("Appellate Court Order"). Purmal filed a petition for rehearing, arguing that the order was contrary to the law and facts. The petition for rehearing was denied. Purmal then sought relief from the Illinois Supreme Court, which denied her petition for leave to appeal in June 2003.

  Purmal then sued two of the Wadington Law Firm lawyers for malpractice in November 2003. The case was dismissed on the grounds of res judicata; the Appellate Court Order was used by the two lawyer defendants to support those grounds. Purmal is now before us, arguing that certain actions taken by Judge Greiman in deciding her appeal denied her due process as guaranteed by the U.S. and Illinois constitutions. Page 3

  Illinois Supreme Court Rule 3 5 2(a) allows the appellate court to dispense with oral argument if, after the briefs have been filed, the court determines "no substantial question is presented." 111. Sup.Ct. R. 352(a). Illinois Supreme Court Rules 23(b) & (c) provide that cases before the appellate court "which do not qualify for disposition by opinion" may be disposed of by written order or summary order. "Only opinions of the court will be published" and an unpublished order has no precedential value, except that it may be cited "to support contentions of double jeopardy, res judicata, collateral estoppel or law of the case." Ill. Sup.Ct. R. 23(e). Purmal argues that the application, in the aggregate, of these rules to her case deprived her of her constitutional rights. The combination of these rules, asserts Purmal, along with the fact that the Illinois Supreme Court will not review unpublished orders, allowed Judge Greiman to make a secret, private ruling which was contrary to Illinois law.*fn1 She asks that we declare Illinois Supreme Court Rules 23(b), 23(c) and 3 52(a) unconstitutional and the Appellate Court Order entered pursuant to those rules unconstitutional and invalid. She has sued Judge Greiman because he signed the order which dispensed with oral argument in her case and because he authored the Appellate Court Order.

  Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss under Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), arguing that the suit is barred by the Eleventh Amendment and the Rooker-Feldman doctrine*fn2, and that Purmal has failed to state a claim against either defendant. Page 4

  Legal Standard

  Rule 12(b)(1) provides for dismissal of a claim where a court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. In considering a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss, a court accepts the complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See United Tramps. Union v. Gateway Western Ry. Co., 78 F.3d 1208, 1210 (7th Cir. 1996). The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that the jurisdictional requirements have been met. United Phosphorus, Ltd. v. Angus Chem. Co., 322 F.3d 942, 946 (7th Cir. 2003).

  On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the same standard with respect to well-pleaded factual allegations applies. Forseth v. Village of Sussex, 199 F.3d 363, 368 (7th Cir. 2000). No claim will be dismissed unless "it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations." Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984).

  Discussion

  Defendants assert a number of arguments in support of their motion to dismiss the complaint: that the claim is barred by the Eleventh Amendment and does not fall into the Eleventh Amendment immunity exception identified by the Supreme Court in Ex Porte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908); that the claim is barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine*fn3; and that Purmal has failed to state a claim for Page 5 which relief can be granted. Although defendants' arguments raise a host of interesting issues, we dismiss Purnals claims against the Illinois Supreme Court and Judge Greiman for lack of standing. See Johnson v. Allsteel, Inc., 259 F.3d 885, 887 (7th Cir. 2001) (district court may address issue of standing sua ...


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