JOHNSON v. BOARD OF BAR OVERSEERS OF MASSACHUSETTS

2004 | Cited 0 times | D. Massachusetts | May 26, 2004

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

This case involves a Massachusetts attorney, Barbara C. Johnson, Esq.("Johnson"), against whom the Massachusetts Office of Bar Counsel hastbrought disciplinary charges before the Massachusetts Board of BarOverseers. Johnson filed suit in this Court against the Board of BarOverseers, the Office of Bar Counsel, the Commonwealth of Massachusettsand various individuals, alleging that these administrative proceedings havebeen conducted unfairly and unlawfully. Am. Verified Compl. ("Am.Compl.") [Doc. No. 5]. In her suit, Johnson alleges various violations ofher civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1985, and she alsoalleges defamation under state law. Am. Compl. at 56. She seeksdeclaratory and injunctive relief as well as money damages. Id.On January 9, 2004, all of the defendants filed a motion to dismiss theComplaint [Doc. No. 6], which this Court granted in part and denied inpart in an order from the bench at oral argument on February 24th. OnFebruary 25th, the Court clarified its order of the previous day, holdingthat Johnson's suit for money damages against the individual defendantsin their personal capacities stated a cause of action, and inviting theparties to submit further briefing on the issues of quasi-judicial andquasi-prosecutorial immunity. 02/25/04 Order [Doc. No. 14]. In response,the defendants filed a "further motion to dismiss and supportingmemorandum" [Doc. No. 15], claiming "absolute immunity," and Johnsonfiled her opposition to that motion [Doc. No. 18], asserting that neitherquasi-judicial nor quasi-prosecutorial immunity is applicable [Doc. No.17], and a motion for reconsideration of this Court's February 25th orderdismissing her claims for declaratory relief ("Pl.'s Mot. forReconsideration") [Doc. No. 20]. The Court has carefully considered theparties' arguments. This memorandum and order addresses the remaining claims in this action and sets forththe reasoning underlying the Court's previous orders.

II. BACKGROUND

On January 24, 2003, Massachusetts Bar Counsel Daniel Crane ("BarCounsel") filed a Petition for Discipline, Ex. to Mot. to Impound [Doc.No. 10] ("Pet.") (copy of the Petition), before the Board of BarOverseers of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts against Johnson. ThePetition contains three counts detailing Johnson's alleged misconduct.

Count I of the Petition alleges that Johnson posted impounded"privileged, confidential and highly personal information" to her websitein violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 209C, § 13. Pet. ¶¶ 23-24. BarCounsel alleges, inter alia, that "by disseminating impoundedmaterial . . ., failing to return to the juvenile court impounded reportsbelonging to the court, and failing to remove impounded material from herweb site, [Johnson] violated Mass. R. Prof. [C.] 8.4(d) and (h).. . ." Pet. ¶ 42.

Count II alleges that Johnson charged two clients an excessive fee inviolation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.5(a), made false, deceptive ormisleading representations to them about her fees, time, and charges, inviolation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(c) and (h), commingled her own fundswith theirs, and failed to account adequately for her application anddisposition of their retainer in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.15(a)-(c), 1.16(d),and 8.4(c) and (h). Pet. ¶¶ 95-99.

Count III alleges that Johnson knowingly disobeyed Massachusettsdistrict court orders after those orders were affirmed on appeal, engagedin contempt of court, and refused to pay a judgment of contempt until shehad been incarcerated, in violation of Mass. R. Prof. C. 3.4(c) and8.4(d) and (h). Pet. ¶ 126. Count III further alleges that Johnsonfiled motions in another action without any legal or factual basis and inbad faith, exposing her client to dismissal of her claims and personalliability for sanctions and damages through Johnson's own misconduct,failed to appeal from the contempt judgment against her client, andpursued a frivolous appeal from an order of the Massachusetts SuperiorCourt, in violation of Canon One, DR 1-102(A)(5) and (6), Canon Six, DR6-101(A)(1)-(3), and Canon Seven, DR 7-101(A)(3). Pet. ¶¶ 126-27.

Johnson denied all these charges and vigorously defended herself in theproceeding convened by the Board of Bar Overseers. A hearing wasscheduled for December 2, 3, 4, 9, 10 and 11, 2003. Am. Compl. ¶ 176.On December 2, during Johnson's opening statement, Assistant Bar Counselobjected to Johnson's mentioning the names of the complainants andvarious witnesses. Id. ¶ 181. Johnson then attempted toavoid using real names, but when "[a] few times, she slipped," thedefendant Phillips, the Special Hearing Officer presiding over the case,ordered the public out of the hearing room. Id. ¶ 183-86. To protest thisdecision, Johnson walked out of the hearing room with the last of thepublic to leave. Id. ¶ 187. Johnson subsequently filedvarious unsuccessful motions with the Board of Bar Overseers, includingmotions to dismiss the complaint, for rehearing, for conference with thetwelve members of the Board of Bar Overseers, and for reconsideration ofthe orders denying her prior motions. Id. ¶¶ 189-95. Thematter remains pending before the Board of Bar Overseers.

Johnson next brought suit in this Court, seeking declaratory andinjunctive relief as well as money damages. Alleging a total of tencauses of action, Johnson brought six Counts seeking declaratoryjudgments that various rules and procedures of the Board of Bar Overseersare unconstitutional, id. at 35-49 (Counts 1-6), two Counts forviolation of her civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, id.at 49-52 (Count 7) and id. at 53-55 (Count 9), one Count forconspiracy to violate her civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3),id. at 52 (Count 8), and one count of defamation under statelaw, id. at 55 (Count 10).

Johnson asked this Court to declare (1) that a bar disciplinaryproceeding is a quasi-criminal proceeding and that whether or not theproceeding is quasi-criminal, respondents are entitled to a jury trial,(2) that the Rules of the Board of Bar Overseers are unconstitutionalboth facially and as applied to civil or quasi-criminal proceedings, (3)that lawyers are entitled to the full sweep of due process and equal protection ofall the laws, (4) that Sections 9(1), 9(2), and 9(3) of Supreme JudicialCourt Rule 4:01 are unconstitutional both facially and as applied, (5)that Section 10 of Supreme Judicial Court Rule 4:01 is unconstitutionalboth facially and as applied, and (6) that Rule 1.5 of the MassachusettsRules of Professional Conduct is unconstitutional on vagueness andoverbreadth grounds. Am. Compl. at 1-2; id. ¶¶ 196-272.Additionally, Johnson seeks money damages from Bar Counsel for makingallegedly defamatory statements about her to a reporter that weresubsequently published in a local newspaper, as well as money damagesfrom the Board of Bar Overseers for posting on its website thatdisciplinary proceedings are pending against her. Id. ¶¶292-98. Finally, Johnson alleges violation of her civil rights andconspiracy by the defendants in the prosecution of the disciplinaryaction against her and seeks fifteen million dollars in compensatorydamages plus punitive damages. Id. ¶¶ 273-91.

III. DISCUSSION

Doctrines of abstention, Eleventh Amendment immunity, and judicial andprosecutorial immunity all play a role in the resolution of this case.

A. Younger Abstention Doctrine The defendants initially moved to dismiss the entire complaint on thebasis of the Younger abstention doctrine. Younger v.Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). Younger requires thatfederal courts not intervene in ongoing state criminal proceedings.Bettencourt v. Bd. of Registration in Med.,904 F.2d 772, 777 (1st Cir. 1990). Deference is also required to "ongoing,originally state-initiated civil or evenadministrative proceedings that satisfy three conditions: (1)the proceedings are judicial (as opposed to legislative) in nature; (2)they implicate important state interests; and (3) they provide anadequate opportunity to raise federal constitutional challenges."Id. (footnote omitted).

In Middlesex County Ethics Committee v. Garden State BarAss'n, 457 U.S. 423 (1982), the plaintiff sought to have a federalcourt declare that certain of the Disciplinary Rules of the Code ofProfessional Responsibility of New Jersey were vague and overbroad andviolated his First Amendment rights. Id. at 429. The SupremeCourt granted certiorari to determine whether a federal court shouldabstain from considering this challenge in light of the fact that stateproceedings involving these rules and this party were ongoing.Id. at 425. In ruling that the federal court ought abstain, theSupreme Court noted that "[t]he policies underlying Younger arefully applicable to noncriminal judicial proceedings when important stateinterests are involved." Middlesex, 457 U.S. at 432 (citingMoore v. Sims, 442 U.S. 415, 423 (1979), and Huffman v. Pursue, Ltd.,420 U.S. 592, 604-05 (1975)).

To determine whether abstention would apply, the Supreme Court appliedthe three-part Younger test to New Jersey's disciplinaryproceedings, asking: "first, do state bar disciplinary hearings withinthe . . . jurisdiction of the State Supreme Court constitute anongoing state judicial proceeding[?]; second, do theproceedings implicate important state interests[?]; and third,is there an adequate opportunity in the state proceedings to raiseconstitutional challenges[?]" Middlesex, 457 U.S. at 432.

The Supreme Court held that the first part of the test was met in thatit was clear that the New Jersey Supreme Court considered its bardisciplinary proceedings to be "judicial" in nature. Id. at433-34. The second part of the test was also met in that the state has an"extremely important interest in maintaining and assuring theprofessional conduct of the attorneys it licenses." Id. at 434.Finally, the third part of the test was met in that the plaintiff had theopportunity to raise his constitutional claims in the Supreme Court ofNew Jersey. Id. at 435-36.

Bar disciplinary proceedings in Massachusetts are similar to those inNew Jersey. The Supreme Judicial Court created the Board of Bar Overseersand Office of the Bar Counsel in 1974 as independent administrativebodies to investigate and evaluate complaints against lawyers. Mass. S.J.C. Rule 4:01 (effectiveSeptember 1, 1974). The Supreme Judicial Court established theseentities, "acting in accordance with its power to supervise the conductof attorneys, and the board exists as the disciplinary arm of [theSupreme Judicial Court]." Binns v. Bd. of BarOverseers, 369 Mass. 975, 976 (1976). Among its many powers andduties, the Board of Bar Overseers may consider and investigate theconduct of any lawyer within its jurisdiction, appoints a chief barcounsel and one or more hearing committees, and may also appoint aspecial hearing officer to hear charges of misconduct where the Boarddetermines that a speedy and just disposition would better beaccomplished by such appointment. Mass. S.J.C. Rule 4:01 § 5(3). BarCounsel "prosecute[s] all disciplinary proceedings before hearingcommittees, special hearing officer[s], the Board [of Bar Overseers], and[the Supreme Judicial Court]." Mass. S.J.C. Rule 4:01 § 7(3). Thehearing committees and special hearing officers "conduct hearings onformal charges of misconduct . . . and may recommend that the matterbe concluded by dismissal, admonition, public reprimand, suspension, ordisbarment." Mass. S.J.C. Rule 4:01 § 6(3).

The attorney disciplinary procedure in Massachusetts thus meets thefirst test that the proceedings be "judicial in nature."Middlesex, 457 U.S. at 433. The second part of the test is also met in that Massachusetts, like NewJersey, has an "extremely important interest in maintaining and assuringthe professional conduct of the attorneys it licenses." Id. at434.

The third requirement for abstention principles to apply is that thestate disciplinary proceeding must afford plaintiffs an adequateopportunity to raise constitutional challenges. Id. at 432. Thereview of a hearing committee's (or special hearing officer's) report isfirst to the Board, next to a single justice of the Supreme JudicialCourt, and the decision of the single justice may be appealed to the fullbench of the Supreme Judicial Court. Mass. S.J.C. Rule 4:01 § 8(4).The rules direct that the "Board shall review, and may revise,the findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommendation of thehearing committee, special hearing officer, or hearing panel" in adisciplinary action. Id. (emphasis added).

The Supreme Judicial Court recently summarized its standard of reviewas follows:

Our general standard of review when a disciplinary sanction imposed by a single justice is challenged is whether the sanction "is markedly disparate from judgments in comparable cases." But where the case is unique or involves a matter of first impression and is therefore not comparable to previous cases, we "review the decision of the single justice to determine whether it is supported by sufficient evidence, constitutes an abuse of discretion, and is free from any error of law." In either instance, our review of the single justice's decision is de novo, but tempered with substantial deference to the board's recommendation. Matter of Folev, 439 Mass. 324, 333 (2003) (citationsomitted). The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court acknowledges that anattorney, such as Johnson, has a "constitutionally protected interest in[her] license to practice law and that [she] must be afforded due processof law before [she] can be deprived of that interest." Matter ofKennev, 399 Mass. 431, 435 (1987). In Kenney, therespondent attorney raised Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment claims thatwere given full consideration by the Supreme Judicial Court. Indeed, "itcannot be doubted that the courts of the Commonwealth . . . will givefederal constitutional issues . . . the closest scrutiny." Bd. ofLocomotive Enq'rs v. Massachusetts Comm'n AgainstDiscrimination, 695 F. Supp. 1321, 1323 (D. Mass. 1988).Massachusetts law expressly guarantees to any aggrieved party the rightof judicial review of administrative decisions, with the reviewing courthaving the power, inter alia, to modify them or to set themaside if they are issued:

(a) In violation of constitutional provisions; or

(b) In excess of the statutory authority or jurisdiction of the agency; or (c) Based upon an error of law; or (d) Made upon unlawful procedure; or (e) Unsupported by substantial evidence; or (f) Unwarranted by facts found by the court on the record as submitted . . .; or

(g) Arbitrary or capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 30A, § 14(7). Since Johnson will have anopportunity to raise her constitutional claims in the courts of theCommonwealth, the third and final requirement of Younger ismet.

Nonetheless, even where, as here, all three requirements ofYounger are satisfied, "a federal court may nonethelessintervene to halt a an ongoing state judicial proceeding if the plaintiffdemonstrates "bad faith, harassment, or any other unusual circumstance.'"Brooks v. New Hampshire Supreme Court, 80 F.3d 633,639 (1st Cir. 1996) (quoting Younger, 401 U.S. at 54). Toinvoke the "bias" exception to the Younger abstention doctrine,Brooks first requires a plaintiff to seek to recuse allegedlybiased judges in the state proceeding. Id. at 640; seealso Middlesex, 457 U.S. at 435; Bettencourt, 904 F.2d at780; Standard Alaska Prod. Co. v. Schaible,874 F.2d 624, 629 (9th Cir. 1989). Unlike Brooks, who did not seek therecusal of any allegedly biased judge, Johnson has sought recusal of theSpecial Hearing Officer, the Board Chair, and Bar Counsel. Pl.'sMem. Opp'n [Doc. No. 9] at 13. Thus, she meets this firstrequirement.

Second, Johnson must offer "some evidence that abstention willjeopardize [her] due process right to an impartial adjudication."Brooks, 80 F.3d at 640. "To implicate due process, claims ofgeneral institutional bias must be harnessed to a further showing, suchas a potential conflict of interest, or a pecuniary stake in the outcome of the litigation."Id. (internal citations omitted). In her attempt to meet thisburden, Johnson offers a "further showing" of "her crusade for courtreform and the abolition of judicial and quasi-judicial immunity." Pl.'sMem. Opp'n at 14. She claims that her "views on the need for judicialaccountability and the need for court reform are well-known to thecourts," that the Board of Bar Overseers and Office of Bar Counsel are"offspring of the SJC," that Board of Bar Overseers Chair Carpenter's"colleague and former partner is sitting on the SJC bench that appointedher to the Board," and that appeal would be "futile" based on her pastexperience bringing "a few cases to the SJC," where the Supreme JudicialCourt made "what Johnson perceived to be unconscionable decisions inthose few cases." Am. Compl. ¶ 111. She also alleges that theulterior motive of Bar Counsel is to censor her website, and thereby tointerfere with her exercise of her "First Amendment right to politicalspeech and free expression, as well as her right and obligation to seethat justice is done." Am. Compl. ¶ 46. Despite these numerousconclusory allegations, Johnson offers no concrete evidence that theOffice of Bar Counsel, the Board of Bar Overseers, the Supreme JudicialCourt, or any of the individual defendants stand to gain or lose anythingor have any particularized interest that might tend to undermine theirimpartiality. See Brooks, 80 F.3d at 640. Therefore,the bias exception to Younger does not apply. Since "Younger contemplates the outright dismissal of thefederal suit, and the presentation of all claims, both state and federal,to the state courts," Gibson v. Berryhill,411 U.S. 564, 577 (1973), this Court dismissed Johnson's claims fordeclaratory relief. Having done so, Johnson's sole appeal from anunfavorable state court decision will be to the United StatesSupreme Court, since "[i]t is well-established that lower federalcourts have no jurisdiction to hear appeals from state courtdecisions, even if the state judgment is challenged asunconstitutional." Schneider v. Coleqio de Aboqados de Puerto Rico,917 F.2d 620, 628 (1st Cir. 1990). See District of Columbia Courtof Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 476 (1983); Rooker v. FidelityTrust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 416 (1923). See also 28 U.S.C. § 1257.

Johnson, however, argues that District of Columbia Court ofAppeals v. Feldman should permit her to attack thevalidity of the Board of Bar Overseers rules in this Court. Pl.'s Mot.for Reconsideration. Her reliance on Feldman is misplaced,however.

The Supreme Court in Feldman addressed the so-calledRooker doctrine in a challenge to rules and regulationsgoverning bar admission policies. Feldman, 460 U.S. at 468."The Court carefully distinguished between `general challenges to statebar rules, promulgated by state courts in nonjudicial proceedings'— for which there is jurisdiction in the lower federal courts— and `challenges to state-court decisions in particular casesarising out of judicial proceedings,' — for which there is not."Schneider, 917 F.2d at 628 (quoting Feldman, 460 U.S.at 486).

Were Johnson not engaged in state administrative proceedings involvingthe same rules as those cited in her complaint, Feldman mightwell permit her to challenge the constitutionality of those rules infederal court. See MaymóMe1éndez v.Álvarez-Ramírez, 364 F.3d 27, 34 (1st Cir. 2004)("Rooker-Feldman does not insulate from federal challengeadministrative rulings standing alone." (citing VanHarken v. City of Chicago, 103 F.3d 1346, 1349 (7th Cir.1997)) (emphasis in original). Since Johnson's challenge emanates fromthe proceeding currently underway in the Massachusetts Board of BarOverseers, however, Younger requires abstention on her claimsfor declaratory and equitable relief. Moreover, "once a state judicialproceeding [has] begun," Younger requires the "exhaustion ofstate judicial remedies" even though a final state court judgment wouldlikely preclude any new federal lawsuit.Maymó-Meléndez, 364 F.3d at 34-35 (citingHuffman, 420 U.S. at 607-11).

The Younger abstention doctrine does not apply, however, toJohnson's claims for money damages pursuant to Section 1983 or Section1985, or to her defamation claim, since she will not have the opportunityto make these claims in the state proceeding. See Deakins v.Monaghan, 484 U.S. 193, 202 (1988) (stating that even if the Younger abstention applies, the districtcourt has no discretion to dismiss rather than to stay claims formonetary relief that cannot be redressed in the state proceeding). Thus,while declaratory judgment Counts 1 through 6 were dismissed in toto inreliance on Younger, the civil rights Counts 7 through 9 weredismissed under Younger only to the extent that Johnson soughtequitable relief.

B. Eleventh Amendment Immunity

It is settled law "that neither a state agency nor a state officialacting in his official capacity may be sued for damages in a section 1983action." Wang v. New Hampshire Bd. of Reg, in Med.,55 F.3d 698, 700 (1st Cir. 1995) (quoting Johnson v.Rodriguez, 943 F.2d 104, 108 (1st Cir. 1991)) (internalquotations omitted). Eleventh Amendment immunity applies to all claimsfor money damages against the state entities here, as well as to theiremployees to the extent that the employees were sued in their officialcapacities. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 169(1985). The Board of Bar Overseers and the Office of Bar Counsel are bothentities created by court rule to support the operation of the Courts ofMassachusetts through regulation of the Bar. As such, they are arms ofthe state, subject to the Eleventh Amendment bar against suits for moneydamages in federal court. Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v.Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984). The individuals named arealso immune from suit based on their actions taken in their official capacities.Bettencourt, 904 F.2d at 781.

"A State may waive its sovereign immunity by consenting to be sued infederal court." Maysonet-Robles v. Cabrero,323 F.3d 43, 49 (1st Cir. 2003) (citing College Savings Bank v.Florida Prepaid Postsecondary Education Expense Board,527 U.S. 666, 670 (1999)). Such waivers, however, must be unequivocal.College Savings Bank, 527 U.S. at 675. There being no suchwaiver here, the Court dismissed Counts 7 through 9 to the extent thatthey sought money damages against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, theBoard of Bar Overseers, the Office of Bar Counsel, and the individualdefendants sued for actions taken in their official capacities.

C. Quasi-Judicial and Quasi-Prosecutorial Immunity

At this point, the only defendants remaining are Board Chair Carpenter,Special Hearing Officer Phillips, and Bar Counsel Crane in theirindividual capacities. The only federal claims remaining are Counts 7through 9, and only to the extent that Johnson seeks money damagesagainst these persons in their individual capacities. These defendantsare, however, entitled to absolute immunity for acts committed within thescope of their responsibilities.

In Bettencourt v. Board of Registration in Medicine,904 F.2d 772 (1st Cir. 1990), the court explained that "there are some officials whose special functions require a full exemptionfrom liability." Id. at 782 (quoting Butz v.Economou, 438 U.S. 478, 508 (1977)) (internal quotation marksomitted). "Such officials include, among others, judges performingjudicial acts within their jurisdiction, prosecutors performing actsintimately associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process,and certain "quasi-judicial' agency officials who, irrespective of theirtitle, perform functions essentially similar to thoseof judges or prosecutors, in a setting similar to that of a court."Bettencourt, 904 F.2d at 782 (emphasis in original) (internalcitations and quotation marks omitted). Bettencourt involved acivil rights action brought by a physician whose medical license had beenrevoked by the Board of Registration in Medicine. After dismissing thenon-monetary claims on Younger grounds, the Court determinedwhether the Board members were entitled to absolute judicial immunity byapplying a three-part test: First, does a Board member, like a judge, perform a traditional "adjudicatory" function, in that he decides facts, applies law, and otherwise resolves disputes on the merits (free from direct political influence)? Second, does a Board member, like a judge, decide cases sufficiently controversial that, in the absence of absolute immunity, he would be subject to numerous damages actions? Third, does a Board member, like a judge, adjudicate disputes against a backdrop of multiple safeguards designed to protect a physician's constitutional rights?Bettencourt, 904 F.2d at 783. The Court held that theBoard members, in deciding to revoke Bettencourt's license, were actingin their adjudicative rather than legislative capacities and, having met the other requirements, were entitled to absolutequasi-judicial immunity for these actions. Id. at 784.

The situation of Board Chair Carpenter and Special Hearing OfficerPhillips is analogous to that of the Board members inBettencourt. First, these defendants are performing atraditional adjudicatory function by determining whether to recommendJohnson for disciplinary sanctions after making factual and legaldeterminations, thereby meeting the first requirement. Second, the act ofrecommending that an attorney be disciplined is "likely to stimulate alitigious reaction from the disappointed [attorney], making the need forabsolute immunity apparent." Id. at 783. Third, as describedearlier, multiple levels of review exist, up to and including review bythe full Supreme Judicial Court. Moreover, Johnson makes no allegationsof conduct of these defendants outside their roles asadjudicators of her case. Therefore, as did the First Circuit inBettencourt, this Court "hold[s] that absolute immunity bars[Johnson's] claims for damages against the Board members acting in their"quasi-judicial' capacities." Id. at 784.

Defendant Crane, however, is not acting in an adjudicative role; hisrole is prosecutorial in nature. As Bar Counsel, he "prosecute[s] alldisciplinary proceedings before hearing committees, special hearingofficer[s], the Board [of Bar Overseers], and [the Supreme JudicialCourt]." Rule 4:01 § 7(3). Like adjudicators, prosecutors enjoy absolute immunity againstdamages actions under Section 1983 for activities in their quasi-judicialcapacity, Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 430-31(1976), and "[s]tate officials performing prosecutorial functions —including their decisions to initiate administrative proceedings aimed atlegal sanctions — are entitled to absolute immunity as well,"Wanq, 55 F.3d at 701. Crane is, therefore, entitled to absoluteimmunity based on his role as prosecutor in the Board of Bar Overseersaction against Johnson, and the Court dismisses Counts 7 through 9.

With all federal claims dismissed, the Court exercises its discretionto refrain from exercising supplemental jurisdiction over Johnson'sremaining claim for defamation.

IV. CONCLUSIONS

For the reasons stated above, Counts 1 through 6, for declaratory andinjunctive relief, and Counts 7 through 9, insofar as they soughtinjunctive or declaratory relief, were dismissed on the basis of theYounger abstention doctrine. Counts 7 through 9, insofar asthey sought money damages, were dismissed as to the defendants Board ofBar Overseers, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Office of Bar Counsel, andnamed individuals acting in their professional capacities pursuant to their Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit. Counts 7 through 9,seeking money damages based on the actions of Defendants M. EllenCarpenter, Herbert P. Phillips, and Daniel Crane in their individualcapacities are hereby dismissed on the basis of those defendants'absolute immunity arising from their quasi-judicial andquasi-prosecutorial roles in the Board of Bar Overseers and the Office ofBar Counsel. Thus, Counts 1 through 9 have been dismissed with prejudice.

As to Count 10, the state law claim for defamation against the Board ofBar Overseers and Bar Counsel Crane, the Court declines to exercisesupplemental jurisdiction and dismisses this Count without prejudice. Asa result, the Motions to Dismiss [Doc. Nos. 6, 15] have been ALLOWED infull.

Finally, the Court DENIES Johnson's Motion for Reconsideration of theJanuary 25, 2004 Order [Doc. No. 20].

As there are no remaining claims or defendants, this action is herebyDISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

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