United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
E. Hudson Senior United States District Judge.
show cause proceeding is the culmination of a protracted
history of frivolous, and at times indignant, legal actions
filed by Janice Wolk Grenadier ("Grenadier"), in
the United State District Court and the United States
Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Her
filings have cast a wide net encompassing claims against
forty-two active or retired federal judges from the Eastern
District of Virginia, the United States Court of Appeals for
the Fourth Circuit, the United States Court of Appeals for
the District of Columbia, the United States District Court
for the District of Columbia, and the Circuit Court for the
City of Alexandria. She has also filed complaints against a
host of federal and state officials, ranging from the clerk
of the Alexandria Circuit Court to the President of the
United States and members of the President's cabinet.
Each of the lawsuits filed by Grenadier has been dismissed as
facially meritless, save for two which are stayed pending
this proceeding and one that was only just filed.
is presently before the Court on an Order to Show Cause
issued April 12, 2018 (ECF No. 2), requiring her to show
cause why she should not be held in contempt for failing to
obey orders of the Bankruptcy Court to abstain from refiling
bankruptcy actions without cause and, despite numerous
admonitions, for continuously filing frivolous and
unmeritorious pleadings in the District Court. The Order to
Show Cause was personally served on Grenadier by the U.S.
Marshals Service on April 18, 2018.
show cause proceeding was initially premised on a
Certification from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to this Court
(the "Certification") recommending criminal
contempt proceedings against Grenadier for failing to abide
by orders of the Bankruptcy Court, specifically a two-year
bankruptcy filing bar imposed against her on October 13,
2016. (See Bankr. Case No. 17-13354-BFK, ECF No.
48.) According to the Certification, this filing injunction
was imposed as a result of her continuing failure to abide by
the statutory requirements for filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy,
namely not having regular income as required by 11 U.S.C.
§ 109(e). The Bankruptcy Court's injunction did not
impose an absolute filing prohibition; its language left the
door ajar by allowing Grenadier to file a Chapter 13 action
during that two-year period, if such action was accompanied
by a motion and affidavit representing her ability to satisfy
all requirements of Chapter 13, including regular income.
reflected in the Certification, Grenadier's 2016
bankruptcy filing, which resulted in the Bankruptcy
Court's imposition of the two-year filing injunction, was
affirmed by the United States District Court. Her appeal to
the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit was
dismissed. The Certification further revealed that on October
24, 2017, less than one year after the two-year bar was
imposed, Grenadier filed another bankruptcy case, in
violation of the two-year filing bar. Grenadier did not file
the requisite motion and affidavit and, in fact, acknowledged
to the Court that she still lacked employment and regular
income, a prerequisite to Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Certification also noted that Grenadier has now filed ten
bankruptcy cases which fail to satisfy the statutory
requirements of Chapter 13, despite repeated admonitions.
According to the Certification, Grenadier has filed an
additional eight actions in the District Court that have all
patently failed to state a plausible claim. In fact, as the
evidence will reveal, most are largely incomprehensible.
thoroughly reviewing the reasoning of the Bankruptcy Court
and its recommendation, while firmly grounded, this Court
decided to adopt a more measured approach and consider a
formal pre-filing injunction requiring leave of court before
any pleadings are filed, along with possible monetary
sanctions under Rule 11, in lieu of contempt at this stage.
The object of the immediate proceeding is to ensure that
Grenadier obeys the orders of this Court. This Court will
reserve the Bankruptcy Court's recommendation of criminal
sanctions as a last resort.
The Show Cause Hearing
to the aforementioned Order to Show Cause, this Court held a
hearing on May 22, 2018, beginning at 10:00 a.m., at the U.S.
District Courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia. The Order to Show
Cause advised Grenadier that she may wish to engage counsel
prior to the hearing and that, because show cause hearings
are not criminal in nature, the right to counsel was not
otherwise guaranteed. See Cromer v. Kraft Foods N. Am.,
Inc., 390 F.3d 812, 821 (4th Cir. 2004). Grenadier chose
to appear pro se. To facilitate the presentation of
any evidence necessary to authenticate court records and to
represent the interests of the Court in the proceeding, Susan
Podolsky, Esquire ("Podolsky"), a member of the bar
of this Court, was appointed as counsel, absolving the
undersigned judge of the need to both advocate and adjudicate
the matter. (See ECF Nos. 3, 4.)
thoroughly explaining to Grenadier the procedural posture of
the hearing and the purpose underlying the show cause
proceeding,  the Court asked for opening statements.
Podolsky presented first. In the course of outlining
Grenadier's filing history, Podolsky offered the
following certified records of the District Court and the
Bankruptcy Court, without objection by
• The Docket Reports of 24 civil cases filed by
Grenadier or opened as a result of her appeals from orders of
the Bankruptcy Court and of 2 civil cases in which she filed a
Motion to Intervene (Exs. A2-A27);
• The "Disposition Orders" from 23 of those
cases, and the Orders denying Grenadier's
two Motions to Intervene (Exs. A28-53);
• Grenadier's two Motions to Intervene, her
Complaint in Civil Case No. 1:17cv1106, and her Amended
Complaint in Civil Case No. 1:18cv571, as exemplars of her
filings (Exs. A54-57);
• The Docket Reports of 14 bankruptcy cases filed by
• The Disposition Orders for all those cases (Exs.
• Motions, a "Demand," and a Letter filed by
Grenadier in various cases, as exemplars of her behavior
during the pendency of these actions (Exs. B30-B36);
• Judge Kenney's Order to Show Cause in Bankr. Case
No. 17-11024 (Ex. B37); and
• Judge Kenney's Certification to the District Court
for Criminal Contempt Proceedings (Ex. B38).
collection of records creates a striking snapshot of
Grenadier's history of litigation. She has participated
in forty cases, thirty-eight of which she initiated herself.
Those thirty-eight cases have generated over 1, 500 docket
entries, representing the staggering amount of Court time,
energy, and resources that have been required to deal with
Grenadier's filings. (Hr'g Tr. 10:19-11:8.)
Individual filings within that collection of cases range from
5 pages to over 400 pages. (Id. at 13:8-12.) Even
those filings lacking in any merit whatsoever consume Court
personnel time, given that the pro se motions and
notices must be received and scanned and docketed before they
ever get to the presiding judge for disposition.
(Id. at 11:9-16.) Grenadier's behavior has, in
short, created a mountain of work for this Court and others.
then proceeded to address the nature of Grenadier's
filings. As demonstrated by the records before the Court, a
survey of Grenadier's various complaints and motions
reveals a pattern of retaliatory filing. After Grenadier
receives an adverse ruling, she frequently files a
"cross claim" or new complaint against the
presiding judge and the court personnel involved, often in
addition to filing a motion for reconsideration of the
underlying decision, an appeal, or both. (Id. at
13:23-14:20 (citing Civil Case Nos. 1:17cv1106, 1:15cv1497
and Bankr. Case No. 17-01124 as examples); see also
Podolsky highlighted the fact that none of Grenadier's
civil actions have been found to have had merit. Her
bankruptcy appeals have been almost uniformly dismissed for
failure to prosecute (Exs. A28-A35, A37, A39-A42), and her
freestanding civil actions have been dismissed as meritless
or frivolous (Exs. A43, 44, 46, 47, 49, 50, 53), with
all ancillary motions denied as meritless (see Ex.
A44 n.1). Similarly, Grenadier's Motions to Intervene in
two independent civil actions were both denied as unfounded.
(Exs. A51, A52.) And even when a case has been dismissed as
meritless or frivolous, Grenadier persists in filing motions
and cumulative appeals, none of which have prevailed to date.
In Civil Case No. 1:14cv827, for example, Grenadier continued
to file miscellaneous motions for reconsideration, appeals,
and motions to take action against Judge Brinkema for over
two and a half years after Judge Brinkema dismissed the
action itself. (Ex. A18, Docket Report.)
also pointed to Grenadier's thirty-three post-dismissal
filings in Civil Case No. 1:14cv827 to demonstrate the burden
that Grenadier has placed on the Court. Each judge faced with
a complaint or appeal from Grenadier has had to sift through
meandering allegations of wide-reaching conspiracy and
wrongdoing, allegations which time and again judges have
found to be incoherent, lacking in a sufficient basis in
fact, or simply failing to state a cognizable claim. As
represented by Podolsky from her survey of court records,
each judge and court has worked carefully to address the
claims-such as can be identified-that have come before them.
This takes time, especially where some of Grenadier's
filings are more than 400 pages long. Additionally, court
support staff must devote countless hours to reviewing,
scanning, and processing Grenadier's pro se
filings. (See Banke Decl. ¶¶ 3, 9; Counts
Decl. ¶¶ 3, 9.) In short, "in terms of sheer
volume, the consumption of resources by the Court [in
addressing Grenadier's filings] is significant."
(Hr'g Tr. 19:5-6.)
hearing this summary of the evidence from Podolsky, the Court
accepted the proffered records into evidence pursuant to
Federal Rules of Evidence 902 and 1006. The Court then
invited Grenadier to make her opening statement, though it
cautioned her that the purpose of the hearing was not to
revisit the merits of previously decided cases, and that she
was to constrain her allocution to whether or not her
behavior constituted an abusive pattern of filing.
(Id. at 22:1-20.) Grenadier asked if she might
prepare her own evidence for admission, and the Court said
yes but again asserted that it would only hear evidence that
related to whether or not the previously introduced court
records were authentic and accurate. (Id. at
23:5-10.) Grenadier responded that "It all relates to
everything." (Id. at 23:11.)
the outset of her opening statement, Grenadier embraced the
fact that she had filed "quite a bit of documents,"
and stated that she had done so "because we have a
judicial system that seems to be two-tier.... One, if you
have money and power, and one if you're poor and
you've been blackballed by the old boys network, which ...