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Clemens v. Town of Scituate

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

June 16, 2014

JEFFREY L. CLEMENS, Plaintiff,
v.
TOWN OF SCITUATE, SHELLY LAVERONI, JERRY LAVERONI, RALPH I. SOZIO, MICHAEL O'HARA, JOHN C. ROONEY, TIMOTHY GOYETTE, JEANETTE M. LANGLOIS, STEPHEN C. PFAFF, RONALD F. MOYNAHAN, RICHARD LINEHAN, DANIEL S. MORRISON, and TRIDENT INSURANCE SERVICES AGENCY OF NEW ENGLAND, INC., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON MOTIONS TO DISMISS, MOTIONS TO AMEND, AND MOTION TO ENJOIN FURTHER PRO SE COMPLAINTS

F. DENNIS SAYLOR, IV, District Judge.

This is a dispute arising out of an allegedly unlawful arrest and prosecution. In 2005, plaintiff Jeffrey Clemens was charged with disorderly conduct, harassment, and impersonating a private investigator. He was convicted of the disorderly conduct charge and pleaded to sufficient facts on the impersonation charge, which was continued without a finding. He has now brought this lawsuit, his third, arising out of his arrest and prosecution for disorderly conduct, alleging claims against thirteen defendants. He is proceeding pro se.

Several defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint, contending, among other things, that plaintiff is barred from pursuing this case by the doctrine of res judicata. Defendant Stephen Pfaff has also moved to enjoin plaintiff from filing further complaints without leave when proceeding pro se. [1]

For the following reasons, the motions will be granted.

I. Background

The following facts are set forth in the complaint or court documents from related cases.[2]

A. Clemens's State Criminal Case and First Civil Lawsuit

On May 12, 2005, Jeffrey Clemens visited the home of Shelly Laveroni in Scituate, Massachusetts, to ask her questions regarding a lawsuit he had filed in California. Laveroni asked him to leave and called the police. After Clemens left, Michael O'Hara, an officer of the Scituate Police Department, pulled him over. After an altercation between the two, Clemens was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. He was also later charged with harassment and impersonation of a private investigator.

On May 3, 2007, Clemens, proceeding pro se, filed a complaint in this Court. Clemens v. Town of Scituate et al., 07-10845-RGS (" Clemens I "). The complaint alleged claims of false arrest, false imprisonment, abuse of process, reckless endangerment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and federal civil rights violations. Clemens I, 2009 WL 1448807, at *2 (D. Mass. May 22, 2009). The claims were based on his arrest and prosecution in Scituate.

On September 18, 2008, a state-court jury convicted Clemens of disorderly conduct. The Commonwealth subsequently dismissed the harassment charge. On December 11, 2008, Clemens pleaded to sufficient facts to admit guilt to the charge of impersonating a private investigator, and the charge was continued without a finding.

On March 4, 2009, the court in Clemens I denied a motion for recusal. The motion itself does not appear on the docket, but it appears that it was made on the grounds that the presiding judge, Judge Richard Stearns, had ties to one of the federal judges presiding over one of Clemens's California cases, Judge Dickran Tevrizian, through the Armenian community. In denying the motion, the court wrote:

The motion is DENIED. As a native of Fresno who has twice visited Armenia in an official capacity, I admit to great affection for Armenian history and culture. I regret, however, that I do not know Judge Tevrizian. Nor am I formally affiliated with any Armenian organization.

(Order on Mot. to Recuse, Docket No. 33, Ex. 3).

On May 26, 2009, the court in Clemens I granted summary judgment for the defendants. Clemens I, 2009 WL 1448807, at *2-3. The court found that Clemens's claims were barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), which prohibits a person with a criminal conviction from bringing a civil suit where "a judgment in favor of the plaintiff in the civil case would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence." Clemens I, 2009 WL 1448807, at *2 (quoting Heck, 512 U.S. at 487) (internal alterations omitted).

On July 18, 2009, Clemens sent a letter to Judge Stearns.[3] In that letter, he stated he had concerns because the judge had "been roommates with Bill Clinton at Oxford University some years ago." (July 18, 2009 Letter from Clemens to Judge Stearns, Docket No. 32, Ex. 2). Clemens alleged that two of the defendants in Clemens I had ties to the Hotel Regency in New York, and that the New York Yankees and the investment bank Lazard Freres leased numerous suites in the Hotel Regency. He further alleged that Clinton had deep ties to Lazard. He therefore had "concerns as for an appearance of impropriety, " which he said could be alleviated if Judge Stearns assured him that the judge's "relationship [with Clinton] did not in any way affect the instant proceedings." ( Id. ).

B. Clemens's Second Civil Lawsuit

On October 27, 2009, Clemens, again proceeding pro se, filed another complaint in Clemens v. Town of Scituate et al., 09-11821-WGY (" Clemens II "). The named defendants in Clemens II included, among others, the Town of Scituate, Shelly Laveroni, Jerry Laveroni, Ralph Sozio, Michael O'Hara, John Rooney, Timothy Goyette, Jeanette Langlois, Stephen Pfaff, Ronald Moynahan, Richard Linehan, Daniel Morrison, and Trident Insurance Services Agency of New England, Inc. The Clemens II complaint alleged that Clemens's state criminal prosecution was brought to harass him by a wide-ranging conspiracy including residents of the Town of Scituate, members of the entertainment industry in California, and the New York Yankees. It alleged claims of a malicious prosecution and negligence.

Clemens II was initially assigned to Judge Stearns. On November 19, 2009, Clemens moved to disqualify Judge Stearns, alleging that the judge (1) went to the same high school in Fresno, California, as Jerry Laveroni; (2) had ties to Jerry Laveroni through the Hotel Regency in New York; and (3) had ties to Judge Tevrizian through the Armenian community. ( Clemens I, Mot. to Disqualify, Docket No. 6). Judge Stearns granted the motion without opinion on December 7, 2009. The case was randomly reassigned to Judge William Young.

On March 8, 2010, Clemens sent an e-mail to Stephen Pfaff. The e-mail, described by the Clemens II court as "a shockingly abusive and threatening e-mail, " contained a series of threatening remarks. ( Clemens II, Order to Show Cause, Docket No. 30). For example, the email stated:

Have you ever been punched in the face? Well, I was, at PCCH, thanks to O'Hara and Moynahan and now, frankly, I rather hope you experience that same thrill someday, figuratively or otherwise, maybe even see one of your "clients" go to prison, you ...

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