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Sharon Alicia Burke Anzaldi v. Rachel Marie Cannon

July 19, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Milton I. Shadur Senior United States District Judge


Within a few days after this Court received its Judge's Copy of the truly bizarre Complaint that had been filed on April 23, 2012 by pro se plaintiff Sharon Alicia Burke Anzaldi ("Anzaldi") against an Assistant United States Attorney, two of this District Court's Magistrate Judges, an FBI agent, a United States Treasury agent and someone whom she characterized as "an unknown terrorist (believe he was a Marshall [sic])," it issued a brief memorandum (Dkt. 6) that identified and briefly discussed "some of the problems that are apparent from a threshold examination of Anzaldi's allegations." That April 26 memorandum concluded with this cautionary note:

With all of that said, however, this Court feels it would be remiss if it failed to caution Anzaldi that the filing and pursuit of lawsuits such as this one are not always risk-free. Because it seems from her filing that she has access to legal materials, her attention is called (1) to the opinions in Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989) and Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32-33 (1992), as well as (2) to the "plausibility" requirement for complaints as introduced by Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and (3) to the requirement of objective good faith imposed on unrepresented litigants as well as lawyers by Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b).

And on April 27 this Court set a status hearing in the case for 9 a.m. June 27 (Dkt. 7).

Silence then descended, at least as to any in-court response or any other filing by Anzaldi. But in mid-June another document arrived in chambers -- a summons directed to Magistrate Judge Martin Ashman (one of the targeted defendants) that bore a May 11 Clerk's Office stamp and appeared to reflect a May 14 date of service. Because of Judge Ashman's then-recent death, that summons appeared to carry with it no further consequences, but it prompted this Court's issuance of a June 18 memorandum (Dkt. 16) that referred to the caution voiced in the April 26 memorandum and stated:

In light of that message, Anzaldi's continuing pursuit of Judge Ashman (and perhaps others) by seeking to serve him (and perhaps them) signals an abuse of the litigation process. In the last paragraph of the April 26 memorandum this Court cautioned Anzaldi about the possible adverse consequences of any noncompliance with court directives (whether covered by specific rules or by judicial doctrine).

That memorandum concluded by anticipating that the June 27 status hearing would present the opportunity to inquiry of Anzaldi "as to all aspects of the case, including the subject of this memorandum."

At the June 27 status hearing Anzaldi said that she had never received a copy of the April 26 memorandum. That seemed odd, for Anzaldi had of course listed her address when she filed her Complaint, and the Clerk's Office's standard practice is to transmit copies of all filings to the parties of record. But this Court saw no occasion to question Anzaldi's representation -- it simply made a copy of the original memorandum available to her and reset the status hearing to 9 a.m. July 18.

On July 18 Anzaldi showed up with a bulky document that she said she had just filed. That, upon examination, proved to be even more outre than her original filing -- it must be read to be believed (or, perhaps more accurately, not to be believed).*fn1

If Anzaldi had not paid the $350 filing fee and had been required to seek in forma pauperis for this lawsuit, that status would clearly have been denied in the first instance on grounds of frivolousness under the principle announced in such cases as Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026 (7th Cir. 2000) as well as the Neitzke and Denton cases referred to in the April 26 memorandum. Such a speedy resolution would have spared everyone other than Anzaldi some unnecessary grief.

But under the circumstances this Court will avail itself of the more temperate remedy prescribed by Fed. R. Civ. P. ("Rule") 11(c)(3) for what appear to be extraordinarily plain violations of Rule 11(b)(1), (2) and (3) that are all-pervasive throughout both the Complaint and Anzaldi's current filing. Hence Anzaldi is ordered to deliver to this Court's chambers, before (not on) the July 30 status date established at the conclusion of the July 18 hearing, a response that shows cause (1) why her filing of the original Complaint and of her current response have assertedly not violated Rule 11(b) and (2) why any such violations should not result in the imposition of appropriate sanctions, which may include (but are not necessarily limited to) such matters as (a) the dismissal of this action with prejudice, (b) a monetary sanction as permitted by Rule 11(c)(5)(B) and (c) the referral of this Court's memorandum orders ...

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