As of today’s decision Castro v. United States Warnerby Judge Irene Berger (SDW Va.):
The plaintiff, John Anthony Castro, filed this lawsuit seeking an injunction to prevent Secretary of State Andrew “Mac” Warner from placing Donald John Trump’s name on the Republican primary ballot in West Virginia. He claims that former President Trump is disqualified from serving as president under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Mr. Castro claims he has a rival as a candidate for the Republican nomination for president based on his intention to continue as a candidate in the general election.
The defendants were dismissed on various grounds, including lack of financial capacity. The arguments advanced by each defendant regarding standing overlap. In short, they argue that Mr. Castro has suffered no concrete injury because there is no evidence that he is actually competing for voters in the Republican presidential primaries. They further argue that any harm cannot be traced to Mr. Trump’s placement on the ballot or remedied by the damages sought because there is no indication that third-party voters would choose to support Castro if Mr. Trump were not would appear on the ballot. Mr. Castro opposes the motions to dismiss, claiming that he has presented sufficient facts to establish standing….
To establish status,”[t]The plaintiff must have suffered (1) actual harm, (2) which is reasonably attributable to the defendant’s challenged conduct, and (3) which is likely to be remedied by a favorable judicial decision. “be an infringement of a legally protected interest that was concrete, specific and not speculative or hypothetical.”. “At the pleading stage, general factual allegations of harm resulting from the defendant’s conduct may suffice,” but at summary judgment “the plaintiff can no longer rely on such mere allegations but must provide evidence by affidavit or other evidence set out specific facts.”
Although the defendants present their motions to dismiss as facial challenges, many of their arguments rest on whether the plaintiff’s claims are plausible. For example, Mr. Trump’s memorandum in support of his motion to dismiss argues that the “plaintiff does not claim to appear in any national poll” or “to have raised a single dollar in campaign contributions.” contribution data regarding this argument} and that “there is no plausible allegation that the inclusion of President Trump on the ballot materially reduces Plaintiff’s chances of being awarded West Virginia’s delegates to the Republican National Convention.” The Court is aware that jurisdictional investigations and hearings have taken place in similar cases brought by Mr. Castro. See e.g, Castro v. Scanlan, et al., 23-cv-416-JL (DNH). Accordingly, the Court expects that all necessary discovery can be made in a short period of time. But plaintiff’s polling, campaign finance disclosures, and campaign activities are not part of the record in this case.
West Virginia law requires candidates to file notice certificates for the upcoming primary election between January 8 and January 27, 2024. If the court has jurisdiction, further proceedings will be necessary to determine whether the plaintiff is entitled to the injunctive relief he seeks. In the interest of reaching a conclusive solution regarding locus standi as soon as possible, the Court considers that the pending applications for dismissal should be converted into applications for summary judgment and that the parties should be given the opportunity to submit evidence in support of their position. positions. The Court will provide additional briefing to allow for the submission of evidence and further argument on the interpreted requests.
The court added:
In providing additional briefing, the Court cautions the plaintiff to focus on factual and legal arguments, rather than personal attacks. Although Mr. Castro is given some leeway in his filings as a pro-litigant and despite his declaration that he has a law degree, his documents contain numerous examples of clearly inappropriate attacks. See e.g, Document 24 (referring to “the willful blindness of the American magistrate”); Document 28 (which states that “[i]If this Court had any self-respect, it would approve the WVGOP’s frivolous filings”); Document 31 (which raises “serious concerns about the competency of the Registry” and “the question[ing] did this Court engage with the Clerk’s Office staff to take their work more seriously” because a document filed by an unrelated party was briefly misidentified as filed by Mr. Castro); Document 48 (“The half-hearted United States Magistrate Judge’s actions and omissions have exposed the unconstitutional nature of the role of United States Magistrate Judges in our federal legal system”); Document 53 (“The Defendant Secretary of State is Advised to Violate the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.”); Document 54 (“WVGOP’s documents have already exhibited a gross degree of intellectual deficiency” and “This Court should be ashamed of itself for allowing WVGOP to make a mockery of them.” ); Document 63 (“Once again, third party plaintiff Republican Party of West Virginia exhibits their gross lack of understanding of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure;” “WVGOP appears confused by this;” “WVGOP has exhibited a serious degree of intellectual deficiency “). This list is not exhaustive. Discussion of the facts and the law will guide the Court’s decisions, and derisive commentary is of little value to the Court in deciding motions. In several files, Mr. Castro has attacked the character or intelligence of the opposing party, as well as judges and court staff. The court’s role is not a social media feed or any future filing to man attacks, inappropriate statements about individuals involved in this lawsuit, or other hateful and malicious comments will be expunged from the record.
Note that this is a separate issue from the dispute over Trump’s silence order with the federal prosecutor in DC; this has to do with civility in court filings, an issue over which judges have much more authority than over public statements by the parties.