fact, it was the unknown nature and effect of fernspiride on which the NJRC relied in determining that a severe penalty was warranted.
Following the final decisions of the NJRC, plaintiffs filed the instant Complaints in this Court alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Upon the filing of the Complaints, plaintiffs moved by way of Order to Show Cause why the order of the NJRC suspending plaintiffs' licenses should not be stayed pending the determination of the instant Civil Rights Actions to annul the determinations. On the return date of the Order to Show Cause, plaintiffs' counsel informed the Court that plaintiffs had not as of that time exercised their right to appeal the decisions of the NJRC to the New Jersey Appellate Division. At that time, this Court revealed its concerns regarding the issue of abstention and suggested to plaintiffs' counsel that the prudent course of action would be to file the notices of appeal with the Appellate Division and to seek a stay of the final decisions of the NJRC from the Appellate Division, and if need be, the New Jersey Supreme Court. If the New Jersey courts denied the stay applications, then this Court would consider plaintiffs' requests for stays. Plaintiffs' counsel agreed with the Court's suggestion.
Thereafter, the NJRC immediately considered plaintiffs' applications for a stay of their license suspensions as required by the New Jersey Court Rules as a prerequisite for application to the Appellate Division. The NJRC advised plaintiffs that their applications were denied on February 10, 1994. Notices of Appeals and Motions for Stays were filed by plaintiffs with the New Jersey Appellate Division on February 16, 1994. The Appellate Division denied the motions on February 28, 1994. On March 9, 1994, plaintiffs filed Motions for Stays before the Supreme Court of New Jersey. The Supreme Court denied the motions on March 22, 1994. Thereafter, plaintiffs' counsel notified this Court of the Supreme Court's denial of the stay applications and informed the Court that it wished to proceed with its stay applications in the Civil Rights Actions before this Court. The Court directed the parties to submit supplemental briefs and set the matter down for hearing on April 20, 1994.
Plaintiffs' Complaints were filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. By way of relief, plaintiffs request this Court to annul the determinations suspending plaintiffs' licenses. Furthermore, plaintiffs' request money damages against defendant Zanzuccki. In their Complaints, plaintiffs allege various constitutional infirmities regarding the hearings and procedures which led to the final decision of NJRC. Initially, plaintiffs contend that in each case, prior to the determination of the Board of Judges, defendant Zanzuccki improperly communicated with the judges. Specifically, it is alleged that Zanzuccki directed the judges to find each of the trainers guilty and to suspend each of them for the specified time of two years for the first infraction with one additional year for subsequent infractions. Furthermore, plaintiffs allege that during the course of the administrative proceedings they were denied discovery of a portion of the urine samples such that they could employ their own experts to test for the fernspiride. They also contend that because no evidence was presented by the state to establish the effects of the fernspiride on the horses, the burden of proving the substance not dangerous was impermissibly shifted to plaintiffs. Finally, plaintiffs' contend that their Eighth Amendment guarantee against excessive punishment was violated by reason of the lengthy sentences that will have the effect of destroying their careers.
In response to the pending applications, the State urges this Court to abstain from deciding the case pursuant to the doctrine first set forth in Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S 37, 27 L. Ed. 2d 669, 91 S. Ct. 746 (1971). This Court is persuaded that abstention is warranted in this matter.
Younger v. Harris, supra, counsels that the exercise of a court's jurisdiction is constrained by traditional notions of equity, comity, and federalism. See Gwynedd Properties, Inc. v. Lower Gwynedd Tp., 970 F.2d 1195, 1199 (3d Cir. 1992). The Court in Younger stated that "the National Government, anxious though it may be to vindicate and protect federal interests, always endeavors to do so in ways that will not unduly interfere with the legitimate activities of the States." Younger, 401 U.S. at 44. Younger involved an action wherein the federal plaintiff sought to enjoin a state court criminal proceeding brought against him through resort to the federal courts. In a case decided the same day as Younger, the Supreme Court determined that the same considerations that require the withholding of injunctive relief in an ongoing state criminal proceeding are also applicable to a decision to withhold declaratory relief. See Samuels v. Mackell, 401 U.S. 66, 27 L. Ed. 2d 688, 91 S. Ct. 764 (1971) (Court declined to decide the constitutionality of state statutes under which federal plaintiffs were indicted where federal plaintiffs had opportunity to raise constitutional claims in the state court criminal proceedings). The Supreme Court subsequently extended Younger to noncriminal state court proceedings, including administrative proceedings. See Middlesex County Ethics Comm v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 73 L. Ed. 2d 116, 102 S. Ct. 2515 (1982); see also Ohio Civil Rights Comm'n v. Dayton Christian Schools, 477 U.S. 619, 627, 91 L. Ed. 2d 512, 106 S. Ct. 2718 (1986) (reaffirming the applicability of Younger abstention to ongoing state administrative proceedings where "important state interests are vindicated, so long as in the course of those proceedings the federal plaintiff would have a full and fair opportunity to litigate his constitutional claim")
The first prerequisite to Younger abstention is the existence of an ongoing state judicial proceeding. In New Orleans Pub. Serv., Inc. v. New Orleans, 491 U.S. 350, 105 L. Ed. 2d 298, 109 S. Ct. 2506 (1989) [hereinafter "NOPSI"], the Supreme Court distinguished legislative agency action from judicial or adjudicatory agency action. The Supreme Court stated:
"A judicial inquiry investigates, declares and enforces liabilities as they stand on present or past facts and under laws supposed to already exist. That is its purpose and end. Legislation on the other hand looks to the future and changes existing conditions by making a new rule to be applied thereafter to all or some part of those subject to its power. The establishment of a rate is a making of a rule for the future, and therefore is an act legislative and not judicial in kind . . . ."