HORODNER v. CAHN No. 73 C 686.
360 F.Supp. 602 (1973)
Mark H. HORODNER, Plaintiff, v. William CAHN, District Attorney of Nassau County, et al., Defendants.
United States District Court, E. D. New York.
June 15, 1973.
Louis J. Lefkowitz, Atty. Gen. of New York, by David H. Berman, Asst. Atty. Gen., New York City, for defendant Rockefeller and pro se.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
NEAHER, District Judge.
Plaintiff, Mark H. Horodner, brought this action for injunctive and declaratory relief following his arraignment in the District Court of Nassau County on criminal charges of violating § 511 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law and §§ 175.05, 175.30 and 195.05 of the New York Penal Law. Invoking 28 U. S.C. §§ 2201, 2202 and 2281 et seq., Horodner's complaint attacks the constitutionality of the State statutes and more particularly of § 510 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, which contains New York's statutory procedure for automatic revocation of drivers' licenses under the "point system." He has moved virtually on the eve of his criminal trial for the convening of a statutory three-judge court to hear his application to enjoin the defendant State officials from prosecuting or threatening to prosecute him for driving while his license is revoked and for other motor vehicle infractions and related charges, and for an immediate stay of his criminal trial pending the determination of his constitutional claims. For the reasons which follow plaintiff's motion is denied and the action is dismissed upon the authority of Younger v. Harris,
While Horodner's loosely drawn complaint and moving affidavit are ambiguous in a number of respects, it appears that his State prosecution basically grows out of the automatic revocation of his driver's license in early November 1972 for speeding and other infractions, pursuant to § 510(2)(iv) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law. The sworn affidavits of various police officers annexed to his complaint indicate that Horodner continued to drive after his license had been revoked; that he had been stopped by police officers on several occasions for traffic infractions and found to be without a valid license; and that on one occasion when stopped he presented a Connecticut operator's license, claiming to be a resident of both Connecticut and New York. Defendants maintain he was using a fraudulently obtained license, thereby justifying prosecution under Penal Law §§ 175.05, 175.30 and 195.05, as well as under Vehicle and Traffic Law § 511.
Horodner's challenge to the New York statutes is somewhat amorphous. He contends that §§ 510 and 511 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law are unconstitutional because they "have been used so as to violate the due process requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment" by failing to provide a hearing prior to revocation (par. 1). He also asserts that Penal Law § 195.05 is unconstitutional for vagueness and overbreadth (par. 14) and that § 175.05, while constitutional, is being used as an instrument of harassment (par. 19).
Neither the Declaratory Judgment Act nor the Three-Judge Court Act automatically ensures the jurisdiction of this court for Horodner's claims. See 1 Moore's Federal Practice, § 0.90. Cf. Phillips v. Rockefeller,
Assuming such a jurisdictional basis, is this a proper case for the convening of a three-judge court? Nieves v. Oswald,
Defendants argue against the presence of any substantial constitutional question, pointing out that Cadieux v. MacDuff,
Bell was decided only six months after the Court of Appeals for this Circuit, despite the vigorous dissent of Judge Friendly, affirmed a district court's denial of a motion for the convening of a three-judge court on the ground that the attack on the Connecticut motor vehicle statute, nearly identical to the one involved in Bell, failed to present a substantial federal question. Latham v. Tynan,
Thus, Horodner's claim with respect to § 510 cannot be dismissed as essentially fictitious, wholly insubstantial or obviously frivolous, Goosby v. Osser,
But substantiality is only one of the criteria. The complaint must also show a basis for equitable relief upon which a three-judge court could act. Nieves, supra. Horodner basically seeks to enjoin his pending prosecution by the State. To obtain such relief Horodner must surmount the prohibitions contained in the Anti-Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2283, by coming within one of its exceptions.
In Gibson v. Berryhill,
Thus, both injunctive and declaratory relief appear to be barred by Horodner's pending criminal prosecution under Younger, supra and Samuels, supra. As the Supreme Court recently explained in Gibson, supra, 93 S.Ct. at 1696:
Absent any basis for equitable relief, the convening of a three-judge court would be no more than a "patently wasteful formality", Nieves, supra, 477 F.2d at 1115; Abele v. Markle,
Accordingly, plaintiff's motion for the convening of a three-judge court and related relief is denied and the complaint is dismissed.
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