United States District Court, D. Minnesota
LAMONT THOMAS, PRO SE PLAINTIFF.
R. BROSNAHAN AND JEFFREY A. TIMMERMAN, FOR DEFENDANTS.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND
R. TUNHEIM CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Desean Lamont Thomas filed two actions against Pastor James
Bzoskie, Lieutenant Hearth, Lieutenant Verby, and Dakota
County (collectively “Defendants”). In the first
action, Thomas v. Bzoskie et al., No. 15-2197
(“Thomas I”), the Court ultimately
granted summary judgment for Defendants. The present action
(“Thomas II”) was stayed pending
resolution of the summary judgment motion in Thomas
I. When Defendants prevailed at summary judgment in
Thomas I, they filed a supplemental brief seeking
dismissal of Thomas II with prejudice. Presently
before the Court are several filings: (1) Thomas's Motion
for Voluntary Dismissal without Sanctions; (2) Thomas's
Judicial Notice and Proclamation; (3) Thomas's Motion for
Revival, Reconsideration, and to Stay Costs; (4) Thomas's
Motion to Stay; (5) the Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendation (“R&R”) recommending that the
action be dismissed with prejudice and that Thomas's
request to seal this case be denied; and (6) Thomas's
Objection to the R&R. Because the Magistrate Judge's
recommendation was not clearly erroneous, the Court will
overrule Thomas's objection, adopt the R&R in full,
and deny Thomas's Motion for Voluntary Dismissal. The
Court will also deny Thomas's other filings.
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
November 30, 2016, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss this
action. (Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss, Nov. 30, 2016, Docket
No. 12.) Because this action overlapped significantly with
Thomas I, Magistrate Judge Kate Menendez stayed this
action pending resolution of Thomas I and requested
supplemental briefing in the present case upon such
resolution. (Order at 2, May 8, 2017, Docket No. 25.) When
Defendants prevailed at summary judgment in Thomas
I, they filed a supplemental brief seeking dismissal of
Thomas II with prejudice. (Defs.' Suppl. Br. at
2, Aug. 24, 2017, Docket No. 32.) On September 11, 2017,
Thomas filed a motion seeking voluntary dismissal without
sanctions and without prejudice. (Pl.'s Mot. for
Voluntary Dismissal, Sept. 11, 2017, Docket No. 35.) He also
requested that the Court seal this case from public access.
Magistrate Judge issued an R&R recommending that
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss be granted, that
Thomas's constitutional claims be dismissed with
prejudice, that the Court decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over Thomas's state law claims pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1367, and that Thomas's Motion for
Voluntary Dismissal be denied. (R&R at 10, Oct. 30, 2017,
Docket No. 42.) The Magistrate Judge also recommended that
the case not be sealed from public access. (Id.)
Thomas subsequently filed an objection, opposing only the
recommendation that the Court decline to seal this case from
public access. (Pl.'s Obj. to R&R
(“Obj.”), Nov. 9, 2017, Docket No. 43.)
Standard of Review
the filing of an R&R by a magistrate judge, a party may
“file specific written objections to the proposed
findings and recommendations.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2);
accord D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(1). “The objections
should specify the portions of the magistrate judge's
[R&R] to which objections are made and provide a basis
for those objections.” Mayer v. Walvatne, No.
07-1958, 2008 WL 4527774, at *2 (D. Minn. Sept. 28, 2008).
The Court reviews de novo any portion of an R&R
“that has been properly objected to.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); accord D. Minn. LR
motion to seal documents is a nondispositive motion
ordinarily decided by a magistrate judge. See D.
Minn. LR 5.6(d). An objection to the magistrate judge's
decision regarding sealing of documents is governed by Local
Rule 72.2(a). See D. Minn. LR 5.6(d)(4). A district
court's review of a magistrate judge's order on
nondispositive matters is “extremely
deferential.” See Roble v. Celestica Corp.,
627 F.Supp.2d 1008, 1014 (D. Minn. 2007). The Court will
reverse an order on sealing only if it is clearly erroneous
or contrary to law. See D. Minn. LR 72.2(a);
Thomas's Objection to the R&R
objects only to the R&R's recommendation that the
Court deny his request to seal this case from public access.
(Obj.) Thomas argues specifically that his interest outweighs
the public interest because “[t]here is no novel or
important result manifested in the relevant case that would a
rouse the Publics' [sic] Interest.”
(Id.) Thomas also argues that he has
“[p]ending lawsuits against Public entities, which
happen to be accomplices [of] some Defendants, ” thus
“[u]nsealed files such as this . . . will expose
[Thomas's] tactical maneuvers to the opposition.”
(Id.) Because a decision on sealing is
nondispositive, the Court applies the more deferential
standard of review to the Magistrate Judge's
recommendation on this issue.
Court will overrule Thomas's Objection because the
Magistrate Judge did not clearly err in recommending that his
case not be sealed. The First Amendment protects the
public's right to access certain judicial proceedings.
See Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia, 448 U.S.
555, 572-75 (1980). “There is [also] a common-law right
of access to judicial records.” IDT Corp. v.
eBay, 709 F.3d 1220, 1222 (8th Cir. 2013)
(citing Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns, Inc., 435 U.S.
589, 597 (1978)). The Magistrate Judge “consider[ed]
the degree to which sealing” this entire record
“would interfere with the interests served by the
common-law right of access, ” and the Magistrate Judge
“balance[d] that interference against the salutary
interests served by maintaining confidentiality” of the
entire record. See id. at 1223. The Magistrate Judge
recommended that Thomas's request be denied for the same
reasons that his request was denied in Thomas I:
Thomas's decision to stop practicing Islam and his wish
not to be publicly associated with that religion are not
strong enough countervailing reasons to overcome the public
interest in understanding the basis for judicial decisions.
(Magistrate Judge's Order at 1-2, Thomas I,
Sept. 18, 2017, Docket No. 211 ...