United States District Court, D. North Dakota
Robert V. Bolinske, Plaintiff,
North Dakota Supreme Court, State of North Dakota, Disciplinary Board of the N.D. Supreme Court, Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Inquiry Committee West, Dale Sandstrom, Gail Hagerty, Lisa K. McEvers, Daniel Crothers, Defendants.
V. Bolinske, Esq., Plaintiff, Pro Se.
Moraghan, Esq., Attorney General's Office, Civil
Litigation, and Matthew A. Sagsveen, Esq., Attorney
General's Office, Natural Resources Division, counsel for
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
DONOVAN W. FRANK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Attorney Robert V.
Bolinske's (“Bolinske”) Motion to Amend his
Complaint alleging, among other claims, that Defendants
violated his substantive and Due Process rights (Doc. No.
24), and Defendants the North Dakota Supreme Court, the State
of North Dakota, the Disciplinary Board of the North Dakota
Supreme Court, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the
Inquiry Committee West, North Dakota Supreme Court Former
Justice Dale Sandstrom (“Justice Sandstrom”),
North Dakota District Judge Gail Hagerty (“Judge
Hagerty”), North Dakota Supreme Court Justice Lisa K.
McEvers (“Justice McEvers”), and North Dakota
Supreme Court Justice Daniel Crothers'(“Justice
Crothers”) (together, “Defendants”) Motion
to Dismiss (Doc. No. 7). For the reasons discussed below, the
Court denies Plaintiff's motion to amend without
prejudice and grants Defendants' motion to dismiss
is an attorney admitted to practice law in North
Dakota. (Doc. No. 24-1, Ex. 1 Proposed Amended
Complaint (“Am. Compl.”) ¶ 3.) Defendant
State of North Dakota is a state by and existing within the
United States of America. (Am. Compl. ¶ 3.) Defendant
North Dakota Supreme Court is an entity of government created
by the State of North Dakota. (Id.) Defendants
Disciplinary Board of the North Dakota Supreme Court (the
“Board”), Office of Disciplinary Counsel (the
“Counsel”), and Inquiry Committee West
(“Inquiry Committee”) are entities created by the
North Dakota Supreme Court. (Id.) Defendants Justice
McEvers and Justice Crothers are Justices of the North Dakota
Supreme Court. (Id.) Defendant Justice Sandstrom is
a former Justice of the North Dakota Supreme Court.
(Id.) Defendant Judge Hagerty is a North Dakota
District Court Judge. (Id.)
October 2016, Bolinske alleged in a press release that
Justice Sandstrom tampered with public records and conspired
with his wife, Judge Hagerty, to intentionally misfile
Bolinske's Petition for Supervisory Writ, in which
Bolinske criticized Judge Hagerty. (Id. ¶¶
4-5.) On October 21, 2016, Judge Hagerty filed a Grievance
Complaint against Bolinske for ethical violations of the
North Dakota Rules of Professional Conduct. (Id.
to Judge Hagerty's Grievance, the Inquiry Committee held
a hearing lasting 30 to 45 minutes, at the end of which it
concluded that Bolinske's allegations were made
“knowingly or with reckless disregard as to their truth
or falsity, ” in violation of the Rules of Professional
Conduct, and recommended that an admonition be issued.
(Id. ¶¶ 14, 16.) The Inquiry Committee
based its finding in part on a letter from Chief Justice
Gerald Vande Walle that attributed the misfiling of the
petition critical of Judge Hagerty to the entry of the wrong
name during a data transfer. (Id. ¶ 15.)
Bolinske appealed the Inquiry Committee's finding.
(Id. ¶ 16.) On July 24, 2017, the Board
affirmed the Inquiry Committee's decision to issue an
North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the Disciplinary
Board's decision. (Id. ¶ 17; see also
Matter of Bolinske, 908 N.W.2d 462, reh'g denied
(N.D. 2018).) In its opinion, the North Dakota Supreme Court
recounted the procedural history of the case, noting that
Bolinske appeared before the Inquiry Committee and provided
documentary evidence in support of his opposition.
Bolinske, 908 N.W.2d at 463. The opinion further
noted that the North Dakota Supreme Court granted
Bolinske's appeal pursuant to the North Dakota Rules for
Lawyer Discipline, which provide that “leave will not
be granted unless the person seeking leave to appeal shows
that the [B]oard acted arbitrarily, capriciously, or
unreasonably.” Id. at 463-64 (citing N.D.R.
Lawyer Discipl. 3.1(D)(8)). The North Dakota Supreme Court
interpreted the Rule governing the initial decision to grant
leave as applicable “only in reviewing procedural
aspects of the [Board's] decision, rather than in
reviewing the substantive evidence relied upon to support
imposition of disciplinary actions.” Id. The
North Dakota Supreme Court examined Bolinske's
contentions that the Board's decision affirming the
admonition was arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable and
that it additionally deprived him of adequate due process.
Id. at 464. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded
that while an attorney subject to disciplinary proceedings is
indeed entitled to procedural due process, “including
fair notice of the nature of the charges and an opportunity
to be heard, ” such due process “does not require
a full dress adversary proceeding.” Id.
(internal quotation omitted). In its opinion, the North
Dakota Supreme Court found that Bolinske failed to establish
a lack of due process in his “informal”
disciplinary proceedings because he “received the
process due to him under the [R]ules and had sufficient
opportunity to be heard.” Id. at 465. As he
acknowledged during oral arguments in this matter, Bolinske
did not file a petition for a writ of certiorari to appeal
the North Dakota Supreme Court's decision.
alleges that Justice McEvers, when participating in the North
Dakota Supreme Court's deliberations, knew that Bolinske
planned to run against her in an upcoming election and failed
to recuse herself at an appropriate time. (Am. Compl.
¶ 22.) Bolinske similarly alleges that Justice Crothers,
who also took part in the North Dakota Supreme Court's
deliberations, knew that Bolinske ran against him for a seat
on the Court in 2008. (Id.) By way of showing
pervasive bias, Bolinske also alleges that Justice Sandstrom
and Judge Hagerty continually failed to recuse themselves
from presiding over Bolinske's cases despite the longtime
existence of adversarial political relationships.
(Id. ¶ 25.) Further demonstrating bias and
causing harms for which Bolinske intends to seek punitive
damages, Justice Sandstrom made public statements about
Bolinske's allegations of wrongdoing, telling a political
commentator that Bolinske's claims were “bizarre
and rather sad, ” and that Justice Sandstrom had been
“aware of [Bolinske's] mental health problems for
years.” (Id. ¶ 23.) Bolinske further
alleges that Defendants conspired to cover up Bolinske's
allegations and that no investigation into the matter was
performed. (Id. ¶¶ 30, 32-33.)
argues that Defendants are repeating their wrongful conduct
by once again subjecting him to disciplinary
proceedings. (Id. ¶ 42; see In the
Matter of the Application for Disciplinary Action Against
Robert V. Bolinske, File No. 6177-W-1708.)
commenced this action on October 22, 2018, alleging
infringement of Bolinske's Due Process rights,
defamation, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of
emotional distress, and negligent emotional distress.
(Id. at ¶¶ 1, 26, 28, 34.) On November 15,
2018, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss on grounds that
this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction or personal
jurisdiction over Justice Dale Sandstrom in his individual
capacity, and the Complaint fails to state a claim. (Doc. No.
7.) On March 1, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend.