United States District Court, D. New Jersey
August 18, 2005.
VICTORIA PERRY, Plaintiff,
GOLD & LAINE, P.C., ET AL, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: FREDA WOLFSON, Magistrate Judge
Defendants Gold & Laine, P.C., Carl D. Poplar, P.A., Jeffrey E.
Gold, Esq., Evan E. Laine, Esq., Carl D. Poplar, Esq., Christy A.
Cicalese, Michele Laine, Brandon Laine and Jessica Laine have
filed a motion to impose monetary sanctions against Victoria
Perry, Plaintiff pro se ("Plaintiff" or "Ms. Perry"), pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 11. Ms. Perry, who on September 29, 2004 was
declared a vexatious litigant by the Superior Court of New
Jersey, has filed numerous lawsuits and complaints against Defendants in state and federal
court, as well as with certain administrative agencies, all
stemming from her interactions with her neighbor, Evan Laine, an
attorney who once represented Ms. Perry's mother in a legal
matter, and with Mr. Laine's family. All of her previous actions
have been dismissed and/or declared frivolous. By way of an
Opinion dated May 25, 2005, which is hereby incorporated by
reference, this Court dismissed all of her claims in the instant
matter, finding that "[n]one of them state[d] a claim," and that
they were "without any legal basis or justification," "baseless
and scandalous." Perry v. Gold & Laine, P.C.,
371 F.Supp.2d 622, 625-29 (D.N.J. 2005). The Court also enjoined her from
filing pro se complaints in this District without first
obtaining leave of court. Id. at 629-32.
Defendants are presently seeking all of their fees and costs
associated with this case, and they are also asking the court to
impose an "extraordinary" and "substantial" sanction against Ms.
Perry to be deposited into the State of New Jersey's treasury,
the Superior Court's fund/treasury, the United States District
Court, District of New Jersey's fund/treasury, or the New Jersey
IOLTA fund. Ms. Perry has sent numerous faxes to the Court
arguing, inter alia, against the imposition of any sanctions
and furthermore, that I should recuse myself. For the reasons
stated below, Ms. Perry's request for my recusal is denied and
the Court finds that monetary sanctions are warranted.
In 1996 or 1997, Evan Laine, Esq. represented Ms. Perry's
mother, Ollie, in a personal injury suit. In 1998, Ms. Perry
moved into the house across the street from Evan Laine and his family, on Saxby Terrace in Cherry Hill. In December 1998, Evan
Laine and his law firm, Gold & Laine, P.C., agreed to represent
Ms. Perry's mother once again. In 1999, Ms. Perry sent her
neighbors, the Laines, various unsolicited items, including a
disturbing letter discussing Plaintiff's religious beliefs,
volunteering that Plaintiff was a virgin, and describing several
sexual acts in great detail. In September 1999, the Honorable
Francis J. Orlando, A.J.S.C. issued an order granting leave for
Defendant Evan Laine and his law firm, Gold & Laine, P.C. to be
relieved as counsel to Ms. Perry's mother. In March 2000,
Plaintiff twice attempted to file criminal charges against
Defendants Evan Laine and Jeffrey Gold, a partner at Mr. Laine's
law firm, for perjury, harassment, conspiracy and other charges.
The Honorable Jeffrey Karl, J.M.C. and the Honorable John
McFeeley, J.M.C. found that there was no probable cause on either
occasion. In July 2000, Ms. Perry filed a statement with the
Cherry Hill Police Department accusing Judge Karl of conspiring
and discriminating against her. She even attempted to file
ethical charges against Judge Karl before the Advisory Committee
of Judicial Conduct. All charges against Judge Karl were declined
and/or found meritless.
In March 2001, Plaintiff filed an ethics complaint against
Defendant Evan Laine, Esq. Defendant Carl D. Poplar, Esq.,
representing Mr. Laine, filed a motion to dismiss the complaint
in its entirety, which was granted. In April 2001, Plaintiff
filed an ethics grievance against Defendant Poplar, which was
also dismissed. In July 2001, Plaintiff sent letters to the New
Jersey Division of Youth & Family Services and Cherry Hill Police
Department alleging that the Laines had neglected their teenage
children by leaving them home alone.
In October 2001, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the United
States District Court for the District of New Jersey against
Defendants Evan Laine, Jeffrey Gold, Gold & Laine, P.C., Michele Laine (Evan Laine's wife), Christy Cicalese (an employee
of Gold & Laine, P.C.), Carl Poplar, and Poplar & Eastlack, the
predecessor firm to Carl D. Poplar, P.C. Ms. Perry later sought
to add Defendant Brandon Laine, son of Evan and Michele Laine, as
a defendant. The Honorable Stephen M. Orlofsky dismissed the
entire case, with prejudice, on March 27, 2002. Plaintiff sought
reconsideration of the dismissal and a recusal of Judge Orlofsky,
both of which Judge Orlofsky dismissed. Ms. Perry appealed the
case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit,
and the Third Circuit affirmed Judge Orlofsky on April 24, 2003.
In 2002 and 2003, Plaintiff filed complaints against Defendants
with the New Jersey Superior Court, Camden County, Case No.
CAM-L005235-02, and with the New Jersey Superior Court, Mercer
County, Case No. MER-L-803-03. The Honorable John A. Fratto,
J.S.C. dismissed the Camden County complaint and the Honorable
Linda Feinberg, A.J.S.C. dismissed the Mercer County complaint.
Ms. Perry appealed Judge Fratto's decision and also filed another
complaint against Defendants in the Superior Court, Camden County
in February 2004. However, Defendants were never served with this
complaint. Plaintiff also instituted charges against Evan and
Michele Laine in Cherry Hill Municipal Court in February 2004.
On August 4, 2004, Judge Fratto ordered that Ms. Perry "shall
be restrained and prohibited from filing and/or instituting
lawsuits, Complaints or other legal proceedings which are under
and/or subject to the jurisdiction of the Superior Court of New
Jersey, whether they be Civil, Criminal, Quasi Criminal and/or
Administrative, against . . . Gold & Laine, P.C.; Jeffrey E.
Gold, Esquire, Evan E. Laine, Esquire; Carl D. Poplar, P.C.; Carl
D. Poplar, Esquire, Christy Cicalese; Michele [sic] Laine,
Brandon Laine; and Jessica Laine" without prior approval of a
Judge of the Superior Court. Gold & Laine v. Perry, Docket No.
L-1402-04, Order For Restraints (Aug. 4, 2004). The only exception to Judge Fratto's
order is that Ms. Perry "is permitted to file or institute
lawsuits, Complaints, legal proceedings, without prior approval,
through an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of New
Jersey who has duly filed an appearance on her behalf in each
proceeding and said attorney will sign each pleading and/or
document regarding the Complaints, lawsuits and other legal
On September 10, 2004, Judge Bernardin, a Municipal Court Judge
in Cherry Hill, wrote Ms. Perry a letter indicating that he will
"not be making a probable cause determination with regard to
[her] pending complaints" because Judge Fratto's August 4, 2004
Order precludes him from doing so. He also informed Ms. Perry
that "[p]ursuant to the Order [she] can make application to Judge
Fratto" and that "[he] will await direction from the Superior
Court." Letter from Honorable Daniel Bernardin to Victoria L.
Perry of Sept. 10, 2004.
On September 29, 2004, Judge Fratto issued an Amended Order
with the same terms as the August 4, 2004 Order but which also
designated the Honorable John McFeeley, III, P.J.M.C. as the
judge to review any Municipal Court complaint filed by Ms. Perry
against any of the aforementioned defendants. Gold & Laine v.
Perry, Docket No. L-1402-04, Amended Order (Sept. 29, 2004).
Plaintiff filed another complaint against Defendants in the
United States District Court for the District of New Jersey on
November 24, 2004. The complaint, docketed as Case No. 04-CV-5842
and encompassing the same allegations made herein, was dismissed
by the Honorable Robert B. Kugler, U.S.D.J. on December 10, 2004
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). On December 21, 2004,
Plaintiff filed a complaint and one day later, on December 22,
2004, filed the instant nine-count complaint, which was denominated as an amended
complaint. Both were assigned a new docket number: Case No.
Ms. Perry's most current complaint in case number 04-CV-6255
asserted claims for "Harassment," "Conspiracy against Civil
Rights by Case Fixing in Municipal Court," "Conspiracy against
Civil Rights by Case Fixing in Camden County Superior Court,"
"Conspiracy Against Civil Rights by Abuse of Process," "Fraud
Upon the Court," "Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress,"
"Fraud," "Conspiracy Against Rights By Endangerment: Knowingly
Creating a Dangerous Environment for a Repeat Auto Accident," and
violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1985 and § 1981, against Gold & Laine,
P.C., Carl D. Poplar, P.A., Jeffrey E. Gold, Esq., Evan E. Laine,
Esq., Carl D. Poplar, Esq., Christy A. Cicalese, Michele Laine,
Brandon Laine and Jessica Laine. Am. Compl.
On January 3, 2005, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(6), or, in the alternative, for summary judgment under
Rule 56, and a motion to have Ms. Perry declared a vexatious
litigator. Contemporaneous with filing the motion, Defendants
issued a letter pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
11(c)(1)(A) enclosing a proposed form of Rule 11 Motion, which
was not filed with the Court. In accordance with the Rule, Ms.
Perry was advised that she had twenty one days to withdraw and/or
dismiss her litigation. Plaintiff never withdrew or dismissed her
Ms. Perry filed her opposition to Defendants' motion to dismiss
more than three months late and two weeks after this Court wrote
the parties a letter on April 12, 2005, indicating that it was considering Defendants' motion as unopposed.*fn3 By way
of the Opinion dated May 25, 2005, this Court dismissed all of
Plaintiff's claims in the instant matter. The Court found that
Plaintiff's conclusory and unsupported allegations that
Defendants conspired to fix cases, along with the Laine
Defendants' conduct, namely, parking their vehicles on same side
of the street where their home is located and across from
Plaintiff's driveway, formed the basis for Plaintiff's entire
complaint. The Court also found that Plaintiff's claims were
"without any legal basis or justification," were "baseless and
scandalous," and that "[n]one of them state[d] a claim." Perry
v. Gold & Laine, P.C., 371 F.Supp.2d 622, 625-29 (D.N.J. 2005).
Furthermore, the Court enjoined her from filing pro se
complaints in this District without first obtaining leave of
court, id. at 629-32, and ordered that Defendants had thirty
days in which to file a motion for monetary sanctions pursuant to
On June 3, 2005, Plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration
of the Court's Opinion and Order of May 25, 2005 in case number
04-CV-6255. The Court denied the motion by Order dated July 1,
2005, finding that Plaintiff's arguments "merely present[ed] a
recapitulation of the arguments considered by the Court before
rendering its original decision" and stating that the Court was
"confident that it did not overlook anything that might
reasonably have caused it to reach a different conclusion."
Perry v. Gold & Laine, Et Al., Case No: 04-CV-6255 (FLW), Order
(D.N.J. July 1, 2005).
On December 10, 2004, Plaintiff also filed a complaint in this
Court against Judges Fratto, Bernardin, McFeeley and Orlando, docketed as Civil Action
No. 04-CV-6102. On December 31, 2004, Plaintiff wrote me a letter
asking me to handle both this case and her Civil Action No.
04-6102, which was then pending before the Honorable Robert B.
Kugler, on the basis that I could be fair because I had "no
prior connection to this file." Letter from Victoria L. Perry
to the Honorable Freda L. Wolfson of Dec. 31, 2004 (emphasis in
original). On January 6, 2005, Case No. 04-CV-6102 was reassigned
from Judge Kugler to this Court for reasons unrelated to Ms.
Perry's request. On January 14, 2005, Deputy Attorney General
Joanne Stipick wrote Plaintiff a letter stating that it was the
Attorney General's Office's "understanding that [Ms. Perry had]
not yet effected proper service upon" Judges Fratto, McFeely and
Orlando and advised Plaintiff as to the proper person who is
"authorized to and will accept service on behalf of" Judges
Fratto, McFeely and Orlando, and that the person had agreed to
waive formal summons. Letter from Deputy Attorney General Joanne
Stipick to Victoria L. Perry of Jan. 14, 2005.
On May 17, 2005, the Court entered a Notice of Call for
Dismissal Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(m), indicating that on
June 17, 2005, it would dismiss Plaintiffs's claims against
Defendants Hon. John A. Fratto, Hon. John McFeely and Hon.
Francis J. Orlando "for failure to effect service on the summons
and complaint within 120 days of complaint unless [she]
establish[es] that service was effected within said 120 days or
unless on that date good cause is shown for failure to do so" and
indicating that Plaintiff should file any responsive pleading the
notice on or before June 10, 2005. Perry v. Hon. John A. Fratto,
Et Al., Case No: 04-CV-6102 (FLW), Order (D.N.J. May 17, 2005).
Plaintiff never filed any response or opposition in connection
with the Notice. On June 15, 2005, Deputy Attorney General
Stipick sent a letter to the Court indicating that Ms. Perry never attempted to effect
service as outlined in the letter, and that Ms. Perry's original
attempt to serve the judges did not comply with Fed.R.Civ.P.
4(e)(1) and N.J. Ct. R. 4:4-3 because the documents were not
personally delivered to any of the judiciary defendants. On June
20, 2005, this Court dismissed Plaintiff's claims in that case as
to Defendants Hon. John A. Fratto, Hon. John McFeely and Hon.
Francis J. Orlando because Plaintiff failed to effect service of
the summons and complaint upon those defendants within 120 days
of the filing of her complaint and because good cause had not
been shown as to why service had not been effected. Perry v.
Hon. John A. Fratto, Et Al., Case No: 04-CV-6102 (FLW), Order
(D.N.J. June 20, 2005).
II. Defendants' Motion for Rule 11 Sanctions and Request For
the Court's Recusal
Defendants filed the instant motion for Rule 11 sanctions on
June 3, 2005, seeking all of their fees and costs associated with
this case, and they are also asking the court to impose an
"extraordinary" and "substantial" sanction against Ms. Perry to
be deposited into the State of New Jersey's treasury, the
Superior Court's fund/treasury, the United States District Court,
District of New Jersey's fund/treasury, or the New Jersey IOLTA
fund. Plaintiff never submitted any written opposition to the
Rule 11 motion, and the Court sent a letter to the parties
indicating that I would decide the Rule 11 motion "based on the
papers already submitted and arguments made at a hearing"
scheduled for July 14, 2005. However, on the afternoon of July
13, 2005, the day before the argument, Plaintiff sent a fax to
the Court asking that the "Oral Argument for Defendants' Motion
for Sanctions be adjourned, pending an Evidentiary Hearing."
Facsimile from Victoria L. Perry to the Honorable Freda L.
Wolfson of July 13, 2005 (dated July 11, 2005) at 1 (emphasis in
original). In her fax, Ms. Perry explained to the Court: "I am
completely confident that, upon seeing my evidentiary support for most of
the statements of Your Opinion and supporting evidence for each
count of my lawsuit, Your Honor will reverse your Opinion and
VACATE your Order. As for timeline, it will cost me approximately
$3,000 dollars to produce the evidence for all parties and
require approximately 2 weeks to compile. Thus, I am asking the
Court to schedule an Evidentiary Hearing some time in August."
Id. at 2. The Court responded to Ms. Perry that day via fax,
instructing her that "[a]ny arguments that [she had] regarding
the propriety of sanctions should be raised at the argument,"
which would take place the next day, as scheduled. Letter and
Facsimile from the Honorable Freda L. Wolfson to Victoria L.
Perry of July 13, 2005.
Oral argument on Defendant's Rule 11 motion took place on July
14, 2005, at which Ms. Perry, for the most part, argued the
merits of the claims that had already been dismissed, see Oral
Arg. Transcr. at 12:4-16:3, 17:3-23:17, 26:22-43:22, 58:2-26,
60:20-22, 64:1-5, instead of arguing against sanctions. On
several occasions during the argument, the Court had to remind
Ms. Perry that her claims were no longer before the Court and
that only the Rule 11 motion was before the Court at that time.
Id. at 8:21-9:11, 30:6-13, 31:19-20, 37:2-5, 38:4-39:5,
It is apparent that Ms. Perry does not understand the concept
of a motion to dismiss and the effect that such a motion has when
it is granted by a court. When arguing that her claims were not
frivolous, Ms. Perry mentioned several times that discovery had
never taken place regarding any of claims and that a factual
investigation would have revealed, and would still reveal, that
her claims have merit. Id. at 8:15-20, 30:6-13, 36:19-37:1. The
Court explained to her that "[i]f the Court finds as a matter of
law that the claims do not state a claim . . . there is no need to place anybody through the burden of discovery. . . .
In these cases the court has found in every instance that your
claims even given the facts as stated do not state viable claims.
That's why there has been no discovery." Id. at 9:2-11; see
also id. at 37:2-6 ("[Y]ou do not need discovery and evidence
if your claims cannot state a claim under the law under any set
of facts. They don't state claims.").
At the conclusion of the argument, the Court instructed Ms.
Perry that she had until July 21, 2005 to file with the Court and
submit to Mr. Poplar a sworn affidavit reflecting her earnings,
bank accounts, other assets held and "matters that reflect [her]
ability to pay," as well as any obligations, including those
associated with caring for her mother, loans, mortgage payments
and "things of that nature which would reflect what gets deducted
from [her] salary and what is available as expendable income."
Id. at 65:2-66:17.
On July 15, the day after the argument, Ms. Perry sent the
Court a fax stating that "19-year old Defendant Jessica Laine
Evan and Michele Laine's daughter parked her car in the area at
issue and in the area of a prior accident just last evening. . . .
I ask that Your Honor immediately: a) DENY these Defendants
Motion for Sanctions, as their own conduct has continually
contributed to my petitioning the court for protection and
relief. b) Order a Temporary Restraining Order, pending my
formal Motion with evidences for an Injunction, to be filed with
the Court on Monday, July 18." Facsimile from Victoria L. Perry
to the Honorable Freda L. Wolfson of July 15, 2005 (dated July
14, 2005) (emphasis in original).
On July 19, 2005, instead of formally filing a motion, Ms.
Perry again sent the Court a fax, entitled "Emergent Motion for
Injunction Against Defendant Laine Family." Facsimile from Victoria L. Perry to the Honorable Freda L. Wolfson of July 19,
2005 (dated July 18, 2005) (emphasis in original). According to
Ms. Perry, "[t]he purpose of this injunction/restraining order is
to keep the Laines away from me and to formally enforce the oral
admonition from Judge John Fratto-given to the Laine family on
May 14, 2004 . . . and again on July 23, 2004 to the Laines
copies attached. This antagonizing, harassing and physically
dangerous conduct has been repeated in nature by the Laines for
over a year and they were admonished twice by Judge Fratto and
repeatedly by me beginning November 3, 2003." Id. at 1
(emphasis in original). Ms. Perry also argues in this submission
that "[i]t would be a miscarriage of justice for this Court to
Grant their petitions for a sanction against me, when they have
repeatedly ignored a Court's admonition to stay away from me."
Id. at 2 (emphasis in original).
According to the portion of the May 14, 2004 transcript
provided by Ms. Perry, Judge Fratto said:
I am not going to grant your motion for restraints or
injunction. I think it's it's not a the type of
thing that requires a formal order of restraint. I
do believe you when you say that Mr. Laine was waving
at you and so forth. And I'm going to suggest to Mr.
Poplar that he tell the Laines to refrain from that
sort of behavior. I don't think it's illegal, I don't
think it's anything that requires a formal
prohibition, but given the tension between the
parties, it's probably something that good senses
would say don't do. So I'm suggesting to Mr. Poplar
that he convey that message to his clients. But the
motion to for the restraints will be denied.
(Emphasis added by Ms. Perry).
According to the portion of the July 23, 2004 transcript
provided by Ms. Perry, Judge Fratto said:
I understand she has a position on Wall Street. She
has access to a PC and she pumps out documents like
you wouldn't believe. And this has been going on for
years. So, did Mr. Laine in in frustration, park
his car in the in a portion of the street where he knew it would annoy her? Did he wave
at the cameras that he knows are on him when he's
going in and out of his house? Maybe he did. Probably
he did. Does that justify the filing of all these
complaints? I don't think so. People put up spike
fences and are permitted to do so as long as it's
within . . . the law. So, to to bring a complaint
against somebody because they park their car legally
on the street in a place where you don't like it to
be, whether they did it so, as a matter of spite or
convenience, I don't know. But they're adults and
they should act as adults and I recommended to Mr.
Laine through Mr. Poplar that he try not to annoy her
as much as possible. But, he has done nothing
illegal. He has done nothing improper." (Emphasis
added by Ms. Perry).*fn4
On July 21, 2005, Ms. Perry responded to the Court's request
for financial information. However, in her response, she states
that she is "not able to lawfully provide the Defendants or Your
Honor with my financial information." Facsimile from Victoria L.
Perry to the Honorable Freda L. Wolfson of July 21, 2005 (dated
July 20, 2005) at 1. She explains that "the issue of this case is
not how much sanctions to `deter' me from filing-the issue is for
the Court to get to the root of the problem-Gold & Laine's
misconduct." She also states:
Your Honor, you were recommended to your judgeship
to the federal bench by the current president
George Bush in 2002. President Bush supports
`family values, as I do scripturally. I would hope
that, rather than trivializing Evan Laine's unwanted
gestures towards me, etc., through my camera as
Your Honor has done, that you would take the position
as the President who recommended you to judge others
that a married man and especially an officer of the
Court as Attorney Evan Laine has no right having
any contact with a single woman and especially one
as me who repeatedly rejects him. Evan Laine's
conduct is against the very `family values' for which
President Bush supports and the one who recommended
you to the Bench. He nor Gold & Laine P.C. at al is
entitled to relief as a sanction, let alone the
disclosure of my finances. Id. (emphasis in original).
Near the conclusion of her single-spaced, ten page submission,
Plaintiff argues that Defendants' "asking for sanctions `in
multiples of 6' is a malevalent [sic] intent to take me out of my
home and assets and remove me as `neighbor' to them. Michele
Laine feels this would suit her purposes as she believes the
Court taking my home would prevent her husband from thinking of
me." Id. at 10. She also asks the Court to "report the
unethical conduct of Attorneys Evan Laine and Carl Poplar." Id.
On July 25, 2005, Ms. Perry sent to the Court a copy of her
"Resolution/Settlement Proposal to Cherry Hill Township," which
she labeled "Docket #04-6255," but in actuality pertains to case
number 04-6102, her case against the judges. In her proposal, Ms.
Perry is seeking, among other things, an ordinance "prohibit[ing]
parking opposite residential driveways," "Termination of Judge
Bernardin," "Diversity Training for all Cherry Hill Township
Municipal Court Judges," and "DAMAGES." Facsimile from Victoria
L. Perry to the Honorable Freda L. Wolfson of July 25, 2005.
Plaintiff sent the Court another fax on July 27, 2005, stating:
"I am requesting your recusal BEFORE you make a decision
regarding Gold & Laine P.C. et al sanctions Motion, as my reasons
are not dependent upon your decision." Facsimile from Victoria
L. Perry to the Honorable Freda L. Wolfson of July 27, 2005
(dated July 26, 2005) at 1. According to Ms. Perry, the Court's
"demeanor and repeated statements of sarcasm towards me during
Oral Argument on July 14, 2004 [sic], as well as your directly
asking me private financial information in open court, to be
provided to the opposing parties (Defendants-Gold & Laine P.C. et
al)-even though admitting you had not made a decision on the sanctions, is
indicative of the perception of bias." Id. She makes clear that
she is seeking my recusal from both of her cases before me:
04-CV-6255 and 04-CV-6102, and goes on to state:
I am asking that you recuse yourself due to conduct
prejudicial to the fair administration of justice and
conduct and statements that give rise to the
appearance of bias and the perception of bias. Based
on the fact that you have refused to accept evidence
that these Defendants have engaged in conduct which
at a minimum is intentional, deliberate and
unethical, I do not believe that you have the ability
to objectively judge my cases and am asking for your
recusal and that this case be handled by another
. . .
For all the persons who've seen those photographs,
Your Honor is the only one who sees `no harassment'
and whose only focus was on the `method' (a camera)
rather than the content (the photographs showing
evidence of malicious intent). You see, `objective
observers' have already seen what your Honor refuses
to see leading to the `perception of bias' and
appearance of bias.
Id. at 2.
Ms. Perry also asked me to "do the just thing in VACATING [my]
decision to dismiss [her] case, VACATE [my] Restraints Order for
the U.S. District Courts and do so PENDING an EVIDENTIARY HEARING
by an impartial judge." Id. at 3. Ms. Perry indicated in her
fax that "[t]his letter is to be immediately followed by a formal
On August 2, 2005, she sent another fax
to the Court, serving as "a reminder to [the Court] that [she
has] previously requested [its] recusal" and also arguing that my
"bias is evident when [I] make statements that [I] `would
dismiss' any claims [she] `would make' (meaning future)" because
it shows that I "have already made up [my] mind to dismiss [her] claims before
[she] ever make[s] them," which is "prejudicial." Facsimile
from Victoria L. Perry to the Honorable Freda L. Wolfson of
August 2, 2005 (dated August 1, 2005) (emphasis in original).
As of this date, Ms. Perry has not filed a formal recusal
motion. Nonetheless, I will address Ms. Perry's request for my
recusal before I address sanctions. While Ms. Perry cites to In
re Kensington Int'l Ltd., 353 F.3d 211 (3d Cir. 2003), she does
not cite to a particular section of 28 U.S.C. § 455 which she
deems applicable. According to 28 U.S.C. § 455(a), "[a]ny
justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall
disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality
might reasonably be questioned." 28 U.S.C. § 455(b)(1) provides
that a judge shall self-disqualify where the judge "has a
personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal
knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the
Section 455(a) is a "catchall" recusal provision, covering
circumstances in which the judge has an interest in the case or
relationship to a party or attorney, as well as circumstances in
which the judge has bias or prejudice. Liteky v. United States,
510 U.S. 540, 548 (1994). The statutory language mandates an
objective rather than subjective inquiry. Id. The pertinent
inquiry is "whether a reasonable person knowing all the
circumstances would harbor doubts concerning the judge's
impartiality." In re Kensington Int'l Ltd., 353 F.3d 211, 223
(3d Cir. 2003) ["Kensington I"] (quoting Jones v. Pittsburgh
Nat'l Corp., 899 F.2d 1350, 1356 (3d Cir. 1990). Section
455(b)(1) is a narrower provision that only concerns personal
bias or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts. Id.
A party seeking recusal need not show actual bias on the part
of the court, but rather the possibility of bias. In re Prudential Ins. Co. Sales Litig.,
148 F.3d 283, 343 (3d Cir. 1998) (citing Liteky,
510 U.S. at 553). However, "[b]iases stemming from facts gleaned during
judicial proceedings themselves must be particularly strong in
order to merit recusal." Id. (quoting United States v. Antar,
53 F.3d 568, 574 (3d Cir. 1995)). "The court must `reveal such a
high degree of favoritism or antagonism as to make fair judgment
impossible.'" Id. (quoting Liteky, 510 U.S. at 555).
Since Ms. Perry does not clearly articulate her arguments in
support of my recusal, I will construct her arguments for her, as
best I can, as I did in the past. First, she argues, in effect,
that because "many objective observers" see that the Laines are
harassing her harassment which I "refuse? to see" a
reasonable person knowing all the circumstances would harbor
doubts concerning my impartiality. Of course, nowhere does Ms.
Perry identify the "many objective observers." Indeed, the
portion of the transcript that Ms. Perry faxed to the Court on
July 19, 2005 contains Judge Fratto's statement from the July 23,
2004 hearing that Evan Laine "has done nothing illegal . . .
[and] . . . done nothing improper." Facsimile from Victoria L.
Perry to the Honorable Freda L. Wolfson of July 19, 2005.
However, when Ms. Perry uses the phrase "objective observer," she
is surely not referring to a judge, because no Superior Court
Judge or United States District Judge has ever found that the
Laines harass Ms. Perry. In fact, according to Ms. Perry, none of
the judges who have made rulings that were adverse to her were
"objective observers," as evidenced by the lawsuit she filed
against Judges Fratto, McFeeley, Bernardin and Orlando, alleging
that they conspired against her and the fact that she has sought
the recusal of the three District Court judges assigned to
preside over her cases, Judges Orlofsky, Kugler and, now, I. No
reasonable person would see the kind of malicious harassment that
Ms. Perry sees when the Laines park their vehicles on same side of the street
where their home is located and across from Plaintiff's driveway.
It was not long ago that Ms. Perry specifically wanted me to
preside over her cases. So much so, in fact, that she wrote me a
letter dated December 31, 2004, asking me to handle both this
case and her Civil Action No. 04-6102, on the basis that I could
be fair because I had "no prior connection to this file."
Letter from Victoria L. Perry to the Honorable Freda L. Wolfson
of Dec. 31, 2004 (emphasis in original). However, in my Opinion
of May 25, 2005 the Opinion in which I dismissed Plaintiff's
claims I predicted that this day would come:
It is obvious that Plaintiff has a distrust for the
judicial system and anyone involved therein. If an
attorney or a judge does not see things her way,
Plaintiff believes that attorney or judge is involved
in a conspiracy against her. . . . [She believes]
that each and every judge to issue a ruling adverse
to her did so because of an unfairness or bias, and
not because her case was simply meritless, baseless
and frivolous. No doubt, given her history and based
upon my rulings today, Ms. Perry will come to the
same conclusion about me.
Perry v. Gold & Laine, P.C., 371 F.Supp.2d at 631.
Now, having apparently determined that I will not rule in her
favor either, she states: "I requested Judge Wolfson as, to my
knowledge, she had no prior connection to this file and I wanted
an impartial judge. Since that time, Judge Wolfson has behaved
and made statements indicative of bias and partiality in favor of
Defendants." Facsimile from Victoria L. Perry to the Honorable
John W. Bissell of August 4, 2005 (dated August 3,
While Ms. Perry assumes that a judge who issues a ruling that is adverse to her
did so as a result of bias, I doubt any reasonable person would
have doubts about my impartiality or believe that I am somehow
biased against Ms. Perry. Indeed, in my prior opinion I attempted
to construct legal causes of action to accompany Ms. Perry's
rambling allegations something she was unable to do. Only Ms.
Perry, who is searching for a judge in any court, state or
federal, who will rule in her favor, would claim to possess such
a doubt or belief.
Second, she argues, in effect, that I was sarcastic towards her
at oral argument and that this alleged sarcasm evidences an
antagonism towards her that makes it impossible for me to render
fair judgment. While I dispute Ms. Perry's contention that I was
sarcastic towards her, any frustration that I might have
exhibited at argument with Plaintiff's inability to respond to
the Court's questions falls very far short of the "high degree"
of antagonism or favoritism set forth in Liteky.
Finally, Ms. Perry argues, in effect, that I am prejudiced
because I have already made up my mind to dismiss any future
claims she might file. In support of this contention, Plaintiff
is presumably referring to the line from my May 25, 2005 Opinion
that provides: "To the extent that Plaintiff presents new claims
in her submissions that were not asserted in her Complaint, the
Court finds that they would also not state a claim." Perry v.
Gold & Laine, P.C., 371 F.Supp.2d at 631. This passage troubled
Plaintiff at oral argument, as well, as evidenced by the fact
that she asked me about it: "[I]n your opinion you stated that
even if I were to as you state here to the extent plaintiff
presents new claims that were not asserted in her complaint the
Court finds they will also not state a claim." Oral Arg. Transcr.
at 10:1-4. In response, I said: Let me make clear what that meant so you don't have
any misunderstanding. If you recall, . . . you did
not timely submit opposition to the motion to
dismiss. In fact, the Court had to contact you and
tell you the time for responding had gone by. I
received a submission. In that submission you
attached a transcript of a conversation that you
taped with a municipal court clerk which you believed
in some way as well supported the claims you were
making of some sort of conspiracy. That transcript
being submitted and that material was new and not in
your complaint. So I said to the extent your
submission in opposition was presenting new material
to the Court, that new material would not state a
claim. That's what I said in the opinion and that's
what that means. Id. at 10:5-19.
No further explanation is necessary here. Ms. Perry is also
troubled by the line from the Opinion that explains: "To the
extent that Plaintiff asserts any claims pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983, such claims are dismissed, because Plaintiff does not
allege that any Defendant in this case is a state actor or that
any Defendant here acted under color of state law." Perry v.
Gold & Laine, P.C., 371 F.Supp.2d at 628. According to Ms.
Perry, this statement shows that the Court's "mind is already
`closed' or prejudiced." Facsimile from Victoria L. Perry to the
Honorable John W. Bissell of August 4, 2005 (dated August 3,
2005) (emphasis in original). However, this line, much like the
above mentioned excerpt, relates to the fact that while Ms.
Perry's complaint in this case does not assert a § 1983 claim and
she does not allege herein that any Defendant in this case is a
state actor or acted under color of state law as required to
sustain a § 1983 claim, several of her submissions made to the
Court subsequent to the filing of her complaint allege violations
of § 1983. It is possible that Ms. Perry has confused her cases
again, as she often does; her complaint against the four judges
asserts § 1983 claims. Whatever the case may be, it is abundantly
clear that Ms. Perry's request for my recusal is simply her
latest attempt to extricate her case from a judge whom she
believes does not see things her way; that request is denied.
Now, I will address Defendants' motion for Rule 11 sanctions. Rule 11 provides that by submitting a "pleading, written
motion, or other paper" to the court, a person is certifying,
among other things, that to the best of her knowledge, the
submission was not filed for an improper purpose, the claims and
legal arguments contained therein are supported by a existing law
and/or are non-frivolous, and the facts contained therein are
supported by existing evidence or are likely to be supported
after reasonable inquiry. Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(b). "Rule 11
sanctions are appropriate only in the exceptional circumstance
where a claim or motion is patently unmeritorious, or frivolous."
In re Cendant Corp., 96 F.Supp.2d 403, 405 (D.N.J. 2000)
(internal quotes and citations omitted). Status as a pro se
litigant does not insulate one from the imperatives of the rule.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 11; see also Business Guides, Inc. v.
Chromatic Communications, Inc., 111 S.Ct. 922, 932-33 (1991);
Abdul-Akbar v. Watson, 901 F.2d 329, 334 n. 2 (3d Cir.), cert.
denied, 111 S.Ct. 237 (1990); Gagliardi v. McWilliams,
834 F.2d 81, 82-83 (3d Cir. 1987); 2A J. Moore & J. Lucas, Moore's
Federal Practice, ¶ 11.02[j] at 11-17 (2d ed. 1990).
In support of their motion, Defendants argue that "[t]here has
not been one arguably meritorious claim, allegation, grievance,
complaint or lawsuit initiated by Ms.Perry" and contend that
"[t]he time, energy and expense to respond to this onslaught of
spurious and frivolous litigations and legal matters is
enormous." Defs.' Br. In Support of Mot. For Sanctions at 2. At
oral argument, Ms. Perry argued, "I believe in what I did," and
that monetary sanctions are inappropriate because "the purpose
for sanctions is to deter a person from filing what they feel is
frivolous. . . . I don't feel my complaints are
frivolous."*fn7 Oral Arg. Transcr. at 58:22, 60:1-4. However, courts use an objective/reasonableness standard when
making determinations pursuant to Rule 11, even in those cases
involving pro se litigants. Abdul-Akbar v. Watson,
901 F.2d 329, 334 n. 2 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 111 S.Ct. 237 (1990)
(quoting Fed R. Civ. P. 11 advisory committee note, reprinted
in 97 F.R.D. 165, 199 (1983) "Rule 11 continues to apply to
anyone who signs a pleading, motion, or other paper . . . [T]he
standard is the same for unrepresented parties. . . .").
The Court accepts Ms. Perry's assertion that she believes that
her claims are not frivolous. However, Ms. Perry, who is
apparently well-educated and successful in business, has a
distorted perception of reality where it concerns these
Defendants. See Oral Arg. Transcr. at 56:1-16. Indeed, in her
papers, as well as at oral argument, Ms. Perry compared her
alleged oppressors to those in Nazi Germany or the Abu Gharib
prison. See id. at 55:9-24. In her fax from July 13, 2005,
Ms. Perry states: "I have the evidence that my cases were fixed,
as stated in my lawsuit. The appropriate framework for that would
be in an Evidentiary Hearing, where the Court can see piece by
piece how it all fits together." Facsimile from Victoria L.
Perry to the Honorable Freda L. Wolfson of July 13, 2005 (dated
July 11, 2005) at 5. In her July 21, 2005 fax, she states that
"[p]roviding these Defendants and the Court details of my
financial information is in violation of the constitutional
principle of `cruel and unusual punishment'." Facsimile from
Victoria L. Perry to the Honorable Freda L. Wolfson of July 21,
2005 (dated July 20, 2005) at 3. In her fax to Judge Bissell
dated August 3, 2005, she states: "Since 9/11, security, technology and protection are of paramount concern to me. Thus,
if Judge Wolfson views me as `paranoid' that's all right. . . .
If I choose to have a multi-camera system at my home when
threatened with any type of possible security breach or personal
danger, that's all right. But for a federal Judge to trivialize
my life's experience to stating that I have `a camera' to watch
the `moves of the Laine family' is insulting as it puts the Laine
family on a level more important than 9/11!" Facsimile from
Victoria L. Perry to the Honorable John W. Bissell of August 4,
2005 (dated August 3, 2005) (emphasis in original). Ms. Perry
cannot be objective when it comes to these Defendants, and her
subjective beliefs are not determinative. See Abdul-Akbar,
901 F.2d at 334 n. 2. Indeed, describing a Court's order to
provide financial information in connection with a monetary
sanctions motion as cruel and unusual punishment amply
demonstrates Ms. Perry's total lack of objectivity and realism in
this litigation. The Court finds that her claims in this case are
objectively frivolous, patently unmeritorious, unsupported in law
and fact, and all together unreasonable; monetary sanctions
pursuant to Rule 11 are warranted.
Ms. Perry indicated that she felt it was improper for the Court
to ask her for financial information before it decided whether
monetary sanctions were appropriate. However, district courts are
encouraged to "consider mitigating factors in fashioning
sanctions, most particularly the sanctioned party's ability to
pay." Zuk v. Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute of the
Medical College of Pennsylvania, 103 F.3d 294, 301 (3d Cir.
1996) (citing Doering v. Union County Bd. of Chosen
Freeholders, 857 F.2d 191, 195 (3d Cir. 1988)). Having decided
that monetary sanctions are warranted, Ms. Perry is once again
directed to submit to the Court and Mr. Poplar a sworn affidavit
reflecting her net assets, so that the Court has a clearer
picture of Ms. Perry's ability to pay sanctions. At that time,
the Court will issue an Order reflecting the amount of sanctions to be paid by Ms. Perry. If Ms. Perry fails
to submit this affidavit within two weeks, and comply with the
Court's Order, contempt proceedings will be initiated.
For the reasons stated above, Ms. Perry's request for my
recusal is denied and the Court finds that monetary sanctions
against her are appropriate. Ms. Perry is once again directed to
submit to the Court and Mr. Poplar a sworn affidavit reflecting
her net assets, so that the Court has a clearer picture of Ms.
Perry's ability to pay sanctions. At that time, the Court will
issue an Order reflecting the amount of sanctions to be paid by
Ms. Perry. An appropriate order will follow.