10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion from Oct. 6

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

Editor’s Note: Law Week Colorado edits court opinion summaries for style and, when necessary, length.


Brunson v. Adams, et al.

Raland Brunson filed a pro se civil action in Utah state court against hundreds of members of Congress, Pres. Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and former Vice President Mike Pence. He alleged that prior to accepting the electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021, the defendants intentionally refused to investigate the November 2020 election.

Brunson likened the defendants’ conduct to an act of war against the U.S. Constitution that violated their oath to uphold the Constitution and his right to participate in a fair and honest election. He advanced constitutional, tort and promissory estoppel claims and sought almost $3 billion in damages. He also asked for injunctive relief, including reinstatement of Donald Trump as president and removal of the defendants.

The defendants removed the case to federal district court and filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. Brunson filed in opposition to the motion to dismiss. A magistrate judge issued a report and recommendation that the action be dismissed because Brunson lacked constitutional standing because his claimed injury wasn’t personal to him and 11th Amendment sovereign immunity barred the claims against the defendants. 

Brunson filed a timely objection and argued the magistrate judge didn’t address the arguments in his opposition and deprived him of due process. The district court overruled the objection concluding there was no authority for Brunson’s proposition. Because Brunson didn’t assert any objections to the magistrate judge’s conclusions, the district court determined he waived any objections to those conclusions. 

The 10th Circuit wrote Brunson’s argument that the district court’s separate judgment was invalid because it fails to set forth the legal basis for the decision, is frivolous. The court noted that although Brunson’s objection was timely, he didn’t specifically challenge the magistrate’s judge’s standing analysis and that Brunson makes no effort to explain why he failed to challenge the analysis.  

A 10th Circuit Court of Appeals panel out of Salt Lake City, Utah, affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the case. 

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