Avoyelles Pblsh Co v. Ieyoub ( 2001 )


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  •                IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
    
                           FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
    
    
                           ____________________
    
                               No. 00-30627
                           ____________________
    
    
    
         AVOYELLES PUBLISHING CO; RANDY DECUIR
    
    
                                        Plaintiffs - Appellants
    
              v.
    
         RICHARD IEYOUB; MICHAEL J JOHNSON; MCKINLEY KELLER
    
    
                                        Defendants - Appellees
    
    _________________________________________________________________
    
               Appeal from the United States District Court
                   for the Western District of Louisiana
                           U.S.D.C. No.00-CV-486
    _________________________________________________________________
                                February 12, 2001
    
    Before KING, Chief Judge, PARKER, Circuit Judge, and KAZEN,*
    District Judge.
    
    KING, Chief Judge:**
    
         Plaintiffs-Appellants Avoyelles Publishing Company and Randy
    
    Decuir appeal the district court’s judgment, which held that the
    
    
    
         *
            District Judge for the Southern District of Texas,
    sitting by designation.
         **
            Pursuant to 5TH CIR. R. 47.5, the court has determined
    that this opinion should not be published and is not precedent
    except under the limited circumstances set forth in 5TH CIR. R.
    47.5.4.
    district court lacked federal subject-matter jurisdiction based
    
    on the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.1
    
         Because there has been no final judgment entered in state
    
    court, we REVERSE the district court’s judgment based on the
    
    Rooker-Feldman doctrine denying Plaintiffs-Appellants’ motion for
    
    an injunction and consolidated trial on the merits.    For the same
    
    reason, we REVERSE the sua sponte dismissal of Plaintiffs-
    
    Appellants’ declaratory judgment action targeting the civil
    
    damages provision of Louisiana’s Electronic Surveillance Act, LA.
    
    REV. STAT. ANN. § 15:1301-1316 (West 1993).   Finally, because
    
    there has been no final judgment, nor an identity of parties or
    
    cause of action, we VACATE the district court’s judgment,
    
    granting a motion to dismiss the declaratory judgment action
    
    targeting the criminal provisions of the Act on Rooker-Feldman
    
         1
            Because of this jurisdictional holding, the district
    court denied Plaintiffs-Appellants’ motion for a preliminary
    injunction and consolidated trial on the merits. The Plaintiffs-
    Appellants had sought to enjoin Defendants-Appellees Michael
    Johnson and McKinley Keller from proceeding in state court with a
    civil damages action under Louisiana’s Electronic Surveillance
    Act. See LA. REV. STAT. ANN. § 15:1301-1316. Also, because of this
    jurisdictional finding, the district court, sua sponte, dismissed
    Plaintiffs-Appellants’ declaratory judgment action, which
    requested the court to find the civil damages provisions of the
    Act unconstitutional as applied to Plaintiffs-Appellants, under
    the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States
    Constitution. Finally, the district court granted Defendant-
    Appellee Attorney General Richard Ieyoub’s motion to dismiss
    Plaintiffs-Appellants’ declaratory judgment action, which
    requested the court to find the criminal penalty provisions of
    the Act unconstitutional as applied to Plaintiffs-Appellants,
    under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States
    Constitution.
    
    
                                       2
    doctrine grounds.    However, because we find that Plaintiffs-
    
    Appellants named the wrong defendant, Attorney General Ieyoub, in
    
    their declaratory judgment action targeting the criminal
    
    provisions of the Act, we AFFIRM the grant of the motion to
    
    dismiss that action on the basis that there is no Article III
    
    standing for their claim.
    
    
    
                    I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
    
         Plaintiffs-Appellants Avoyelles Publishing Company, owner of
    
    the Avoyelles Journal, together with Randy Decuir, editor of the
    
    Avoyelles Journal (Avoyelles Publishing Company and Randy Decuir
    
    being herein collectively called “Avoyelles-Decuir”), oversee a
    
    weekly newspaper printed and circulated in Avoyelles Parish,
    
    Louisiana.    Defendant-Appellee Michael Johnson is a former
    
    District Judge for Avoyelles Parish.    Defendant-Appellee McKinley
    
    Keller is an Avoyelles Parish Police Juror.    Defendant-Appellee
    
    Richard Ieyoub is the Attorney General of Louisiana.2
    
         On November 6, 1996, Carol Aymond, Jr., a lawyer and former
    
    candidate for judge in Avoyelles Parish, called a public press
    
    conference at which a reporter from the Avoyelles Journal was in
    
    attendance.    At that press conference, Aymond played a recording
    
    of alleged conversations between Johnson and Keller and provided
    
    
    
         2
            The facts, herein, were stipulated to and included in
    the district court’s opinion.
    
                                      3
    a typed transcript of the taped conversations.3    Aymond
    
    represented to those in attendance that the tape had been made
    
    legally.    On November 7 and 8, 1996, the Alexandria Daily Town
    
    Talk, owned by Central Newspapers, Inc. (“CNI”), printed articles
    
    on the press conference in which portions of the taped
    
    conversations were quoted.    On November 10, 1996, the Avoyelles
    
    Journal reported on the press conference and quoted similar
    
    portions of the tape printed by the Alexandria Daily Town Talk.
    
    The Avoyelles Journal also printed a column entitled “Alphonse
    
    Sez” wherein the author commented on the contents of the taped
    
    conversations.
    
         Because of the publication of the conversations, Johnson and
    
    Keller brought felony criminal complaints against Aymond, and on
    
    November 25, 1996, Aymond was arrested for allegedly violating
    
    § 15:1303 of the Electronic Surveillance Act (the “Act”).4    The
    
         3
            The conversations involved alleged vote buying in
    Avoyelles Parish.
         4
               Section 15:1303 provides in relevant part:
    
               A. Except as otherwise specifically provided in this
               Chapter, it shall be unlawful for any person to:
               (1) Willfully intercept, endeavor to intercept, or
               procure any other person to intercept or endeavor to
               intercept, any wire or oral communication;
               (2) Willfully use, endeavor to use, or procure any other
               person to use or endeavor to use, any electronic,
               mechanical, or other device to intercept any oral
               communication when:
               (a) Such device is affixed to, or otherwise transmits a
               signal through, a wire, cable, or other like connection
               used in wire communication; or
               (b) Such device transmits communications by radio or
    
                                      4
    Avoyelles Parish District Attorney recused himself from handling
    
    the criminal prosecution of Aymond and transferred the charges to
    
    Attorney General Ieyoub.5
    
         On December 2, 1996, Johnson and Keller brought a civil
    
    suit against Aymond, Avoyelles Publishing, Decuir, John Doe (the
    
    author of the “Alphonse Sez” column), and CNI in state district
    
    court for violating § 15:1303 of the Act.    Avoyelles-Decuir
    
    claimed in answer to the state court civil suit that the Act
    
    
    
             interferes with the transmission of such communication;
             (3) Willfully disclose, or endeavor to disclose, to any
             other person the contents of any wire or oral
             communication, knowing or having reason to know that the
             information was obtained through the interception of a
             wire or oral communication in violation of this
             Subsection; or
             (4) Willfully use, or endeavor to use, the contents of
             any wire or oral communication, knowing or having reason
             to know that the information was obtained through the
             interception of a wire or oral communication in
             violation of this Subsection.
             B. Any person who violates the provisions of this
             Section shall be fined not more than ten thousand
             dollars and imprisoned for not less than two years nor
             more than ten years at hard labor, without benefit of
             probation, parole, or suspension of sentence.
    
    LA. REV. STAT. ANN. § 15:1303 (West 1993).
         5
            Pursuant to Article IV, § 8 of the Louisiana
    Constitution, the Attorney General is granted the authority to
    intervene in a civil action or proceeding and, upon written
    request of a district attorney, to advise and assist in a
    criminal case. LA. CONST. art. IV, § 8. In a motion for recusal
    signed by Eddie Knoll, District Attorney for Avoyelles Parish,
    Knoll requested “that because of the possibility of a conflict of
    interest and in order to avoid even the slightest appearance of
    impropriety, his office be recused from investigation and/or
    prosecution of the above captioned case.” The motion was granted
    on May 7, 1997.
    
                                     5
    would be unconstitutional under the First Amendment if
    
    statutorily construed to apply to the publication of the
    
    newspaper articles.    Ieyoub was notified, as required by state
    
    law, of the possible constitutional challenge to the Act and
    
    initially chose not to participate.
    
         In a state court proceeding, the district court addressed
    
    the Act when ruling on Exceptions filed by Aymond and CNI.      The
    
    state district court denied Aymond’s Exception of No Cause of
    
    Action, but granted CNI’s Exception of No Cause of Action.
    
    Johnson and Keller appealed the state district court’s grant of
    
    CNI’s Exception to the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal
    
    (“Third Circuit”), which reversed the trial court on April 1,
    
    1998.    The Third Circuit held that the constitutionality of the
    
    Act was not properly before the state district court, and thus,
    
    it was error to decide upon it.       See Johnson v. Aymond, 97-1466
    
    (La. App. 3 Cir. 4/1/98), 
    709 So. 2d 1072
    , 1075, writ denied,
    
    98-1181 (La. 6/19/98), 
    720 So. 2d 1214
    .      CNI applied for writ to
    
    the Louisiana Supreme Court, which denied the applications on
    
    June 19, 1998.    See Johnson v. Aymond, 
    720 So. 2d 1214
     (La.
    
    1998).    Avoyelles-Decuir were not parties to the Exceptions, the
    
    appeal, or the applications for writ.
    
         In state district court, Avoyelles-Decuir filed motions for
    
    summary judgment, which were granted without written reasons,
    
    but which referred to the written reasons issued on CNI’s
    
    Exception.    Johnson and Keller appealed the grant of summary
    
                                      6
    judgment directly to the Louisiana Supreme Court.    The Louisiana
    
    Supreme Court subsequently transferred the matter again to the
    
    Third Circuit, finding an “independent review of the record
    
    reveals that the trial court’s judgment never rendered the Act
    
    unconstitutional.”   After this transfer, the Third Circuit then
    
    reversed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Avoyelles-
    
    Decuir and, in an opinion of December 23, 1998, reasoned that
    
    the Act did not violate the First Amendment.   The Third Circuit
    
    concluded that a literal reading of the Act did not exempt media
    
    entities from the prohibition on electronic surveillance and
    
    dissemination and did not violate “the federal []or state
    
    constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press.”
    
         Avoyelles-Decuir filed an application for writ to the
    
    Louisiana Supreme Court seeking review of the Third Circuit’s
    
    opinion.   CNI also filed an application for writ, although it
    
    was not a party to the appeal.   The Louisiana Supreme Court
    
    denied both applications for writ.   CNI then filed for writ to
    
    the United States Supreme Court seeking review of the Third
    
    Circuit’s opinion.   The writ to the United States Supreme Court
    
    was denied.
    
         On March 10, 2000, Avoyelles-Decuir filed suit in federal
    
    court seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions6 and a
    
         6
            The parties have stipulated that both Johnson and Keller
    are public figures in Avoyelles Parish. Further, the parties
    have stipulated that Johnson and Keller will file criminal
    charges against Avoyelles-Decuir in state court and sue
    
                                     7
    consolidated trial on the merits, a declaratory judgment,
    
    damages, and attorneys’ fees against Johnson and Keller, and
    
    seeking declaratory relief and attorneys’ fees against Ieyoub as
    
    Attorney General.7       Specifically, Avoyelles-Decuir sought
    
    injunctive and declaratory relief against Johnson and Keller,
    
    enjoining them from proceeding with their state civil damages
    
    suit and also attempting to prevent future civil damages actions
    
    under the Act should Avoyelles-Decuir decide to republish the
    
    information.       As to Ieyoub, Avoyelles-Decuir sought a
    
    declaration that the criminal penalties under the Act could not
    
    be applied constitutionally to members of the press who reported
    
    on information that may have been obtained in violation of the
    
    Act.       After a hearing on the abstention and jurisdictional
    
    issues, the district court held that the court lacked
    
    jurisdiction to review the case under the Rooker-Feldman
    
    doctrine.8
    
           Avoyelles-Decuir timely appeal.
    
    
    
                              II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
    
    
    
    Avoyelles-Decuir for damages again in state court if Avoyelles-
    Decuir republish the information or attempt to introduce the
    recordings and/or transcripts in state court proceedings.
           7
            In federal district court, CNI successfully moved to
    intervene as a plaintiff, but did not appeal to this court.
           8
            The precise holdings of the district court are described
    in note 1 supra.
    
                                        8
         We review questions of federal subject-matter jurisdiction
    
    de novo.   See Delgado v. Shell Oil Co., 
    231 F.3d 165
    , 175 (5th
    
    Cir. 2000).   Similarly, we review a district court’s grant of a
    
    motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction de
    
    novo.   See Cardoso v. Reno, 
    216 F.3d 512
    , 514 (5th Cir. 2000);
    
    Rodriguez v. Tex. Comm’n on the Arts, 
    199 F.3d 279
    , 280 (5th
    
    Cir. 2000).
    
    
    
                             III. JURISDICTION
    
         At the outset, we emphasize the important role abstention
    
    plays in our federal system.   “[W]e have recognized that the
    
    authority of a federal court to abstain from exercising its
    
    jurisdiction extends to all cases in which the court has
    
    discretion to grant or deny relief.”    Quackenbush v. Allstate
    
    Ins. Co., 
    517 U.S. 706
    , 718 (1996).    Numerous abstention
    
    doctrines have been developed to effectuate a proper federal-
    
    state balance in resolving litigation in both federal and state
    
    courts.    See, e.g., Younger v. Harris, 
    401 U.S. 37
    , 43 (1971);
    
    Samuels v. Mackell, 
    401 U.S. 66
    , 72 (1971); see also Steffel v.
    
    Thompson, 
    415 U.S. 452
    , 462 (1974); Huffman v. Pursue, Ltd., 
    420 U.S. 592
    , 604 (1975); Hicks v. Miranda, 
    422 U.S. 332
    , 349
    
    (1975); Doran v. Salem Inn, Inc., 
    422 U.S. 922
    , 931 (1975);
    
    Juidice v. Vail, 
    430 U.S. 327
    , 336-37 (1977); Wooley v. Maynard,
    
    
    430 U.S. 705
    , 711-12 (1977); Moore v. Sims, 
    442 U.S. 415
    , 423
    
    
                                     9
    (1979); Pennzoil Co. v. Texaco, 
    481 U.S. 1
    , 10 (1987); New
    
    Orleans Pub. Serv., Inc. v. Council of City of New Orleans, 
    491 U.S. 350
    , 367-68 (1989).
    
         Of course, despite the availability of abstention, federal
    
    courts have a concomitant responsibility to exercise the
    
    jurisdiction granted to them by Congress.   See Quackenbush, 517
    
    U.S. at 716 (“[F]ederal courts have a strict duty to exercise
    
    the jurisdiction that is conferred upon them by Congress.”); see
    
    also Colo. River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, 
    424 U.S. 800
    , 817 (1976) (recognizing “the virtually unflagging
    
    obligation of the federal courts to exercise the jurisdiction
    
    given them”).   Because the district court’s holding was based on
    
    the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, this case presents a question of
    
    jurisdiction, not abstention.9   Our holding, therefore,
    
    necessarily does not address the propriety of other possible
    
    abstention doctrines available to the district court.
    
    
    
         9
            The Supreme Court recently referred to the Rooker-
    Feldman doctrine as the “Court’s Rooker/Feldman abstention
    doctrine,” thus perhaps blurring the distinction between
    jurisdictional doctrines and abstention doctrines. See Johnson
    v. De Grandy, 
    512 U.S. 997
    , 1005 (1994). Analytically, however,
    it is generally understood that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars
    a federal district court’s jurisdiction to review a case,
    precluding even a consideration of available abstention
    doctrines. See Pennzoil v. Texaco, 
    481 U.S. 1
    , 10 (1987)
    (finding that lower court should have abstained from deciding the
    issue before the court; however, in recognizing the propriety of
    federal abstention, the Court also implicitly recognized that the
    Rooker-Feldman doctrine did not bar the district court’s federal
    jurisdiction to decide those abstention questions).
    
                                     10
         The narrow question before this court is whether the
    
    Rooker-Feldman doctrine, as applied in the Fifth Circuit, is
    
    applicable to the facts of the case.    More precisely, the
    
    question is whether the district court had subject-matter
    
    jurisdiction to deny Avoyelles-Decuir’s motion for an injunction
    
    and to grant Ieyoub’s motion to dismiss the declaratory judgment
    
    action.    Because our answer turns on the particular development
    
    of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine in this circuit, and the finality
    
    of the state court decision in this case, we address each point
    
    in turn.
    
    
    
                       A. The Rooker-Feldman Doctrine
    
         The Rooker-Feldman doctrine takes its name from two Supreme
    
    Court cases, Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 
    263 U.S. 413
     (1923),
    
    and District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 
    460 U.S. 462
     (1983).    The doctrine provides that “federal district courts
    
    lack jurisdiction to entertain collateral attacks on state
    
    judgments.”    United States v. Shepherd, 
    23 F.3d 923
    , 924 (5th
    
    Cir. 1994).    The justification for this jurisdictional bar is
    
    found by negative implication in 28 U.S.C. § 1257, which
    
    provides that “[f]inal judgments or decrees rendered by the
    
    highest court of a State in which a decision could be had, may
    
    be reviewed by the Supreme Court by writ of certiorari[.]”      28
    
    U.S.C. § 1257 (1993).    Because no parallel provision exists
    
    similarly granting appellate jurisdiction over state court
    
                                     11
    decisions by federal district courts, courts have reasoned “that
    
    ‘federal district courts, as courts of original jurisdiction,
    
    lack appellate jurisdiction to review, modify, or nullify final
    
    orders of state courts.’”    Weekly v. Morrow, 
    204 F.3d 613
    , 615
    
    (5th Cir. 2000) (quoting Liedtke v. State Bar of Tex., 
    18 F.3d 315
    , 317 (5th Cir. 1994)).10
    
         Application of this doctrine is clarified by examining the
    
    Feldman case.    In Feldman, a District of Columbia bar applicant
    
    was denied bar admission because he had not graduated from an
    
    accredited law school.    See Feldman, 460 U.S. at 465.    Feldman
    
    appealed to the D.C. Court of Appeals for a waiver of the
    
    accreditation requirement and was denied.     Feldman then sought
    
    relief in federal court, challenging the adverse decision of his
    
    application and bringing general constitutional challenges to
    
    the bar rules.    See id. at 468.    In determining jurisdiction,
    
    the Supreme Court distinguished between “Feldman’s broad-based
    
    challenges to the constitutionality of the bar’s rules and his
    
    challenges to the constitutionality of his individual
    
    disciplinary proceedings.”     Musslewhite v. State Bar of Tex., 
    32 F.3d 942
    , 945 (5th Cir. 1994) (interpreting Feldman in the
    
    context of Fifth Circuit Rooker-Feldman jurisprudence).
    
    
         10
            This doctrine also arises from the negative inference in
    28 U.S.C. § 1331, which establishes that a district court has
    “original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the
    Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C.
    § 1331 (1993).
    
                                        12
         The Supreme Court found that federal courts do have
    
    subject-matter jurisdiction to review “general constitutional
    
    attacks,” see id. at 946,11 but do not have subject-matter
    
    jurisdiction over “challenges to state-court decisions in
    
    particular cases arising out of judicial proceedings even if
    
    those challenges allege that the state court’s action was
    
    unconstitutional.”   Feldman, 460 U.S. at 496.
    
         Courts have expanded this jurisdictional limitation to
    
    include general constitutional challenges that are “inextricably
    
    intertwined” with the state court judgment.      See Musslewhite, 32
    
    F.3d at 946 (“[T]he Feldman distinction meant that a general
    
    constitutional attack that is nonetheless ‘inextricably
    
    intertwined’ with a state court judgment [] cannot be properly
    
    heard in federal court.”); see also Shepherd, 23 F.3d at 924
    
    (“If the district court is confronted with issues that are
    
    ‘inextricably intertwined’ with a state judgment, the court is
    
    ‘in essence being called upon to review the state-court
    
    decision,’ and the originality of the district court’s
    
    jurisdiction precludes such a review.” (citations omitted)).
    
         Despite general agreement about the basic rule of Rooker-
    
    Feldman, the doctrine has developed differently among the
    
         11
            The Supreme Court’s precise language in the context of
    state bar rules was: “United States district courts, therefore,
    have subject-matter jurisdiction over general challenges to state
    bar rules, promulgated by state courts in non-judicial
    proceedings, which do not require review of a final state-court
    judgment in a particular case.” Feldman, 460 U.S. at 486.
    
                                    13
    circuits.12    Recent scholarly commentary has examined these
    
    differences and the interplay between the Rooker-Feldman
    
    doctrine and other traditional forms of preclusion.13
    
         We are bound, however, by the existing Fifth Circuit
    
    precedent that has interpreted Rooker-Feldman in a manner
    
    consistent with the requirements of the full faith and credit
    
    requirement.    See Davis v. Bayless, 
    70 F.3d 367
    , 376 (5th Cir.
    
    1995) (“[O]ur Circuit has not allowed the Rooker-Feldman
    
    doctrine to bar an action in federal court when that same action
    
    would be allowed in the state court of the rendering state.”);
    
    see also Am. Airlines, Inc. v. Dep’t of Transp., 
    202 F.3d 788
    ,
    
    801 n.9 (5th Cir. 2000) (“[W]e have not applied the Rooker-
    
    Feldman jurisdictional bar in cases where we have found it
    
    inappropriate to require a federal court to give full faith and
    
    
         12
            See, e.g., H.C. v. Koppel, 
    203 F.3d 610
    , 612 (9th Cir.
    2000); Kiowa Indian Tribe v. Hoover, 
    150 F.3d 1163
    , 1169-71 (10th
    Cir. 1998); Richardson v. D.C. Court of Appeals, 
    83 F.3d 1513
    ,
    1515 (D.C. Cir. 1996); Charchenko v. City of Stillwater, 
    47 F.3d 981
    , 983 (8th Cir. 1995); GASH Assocs. v. Village of Rosemont,
    
    995 F.2d 726
    , 728 (7th Cir. 1993).
         13
             See, e.g., Thomas D. Rowe, Jr., Rooker-Feldman: Worth
    Only the Power to Blow It Up?, 74 NOTRE DAME L. REV. 1081 (1999);
    Suzanna Sherry, Judicial Federalism in the Trenches: The Rooker-
    Feldman Doctrine in Action, 74 NOTRE DAME L. REV. 1085 (1999);
    Barry Friedman & James Gaylord, Rooker-Feldman, From the Ground
    Up, 74 NOTRE DAME L. REV. 1129 (1999); Susan Bandes, The Rooker-
    Feldman Doctrine: Evaluating Its Jurisdictional Status, 74 NOTRE
    DAME L. REV. 1175 (1999); Jack M. Beermann, Comments on Rooker-
    Feldman or Let State Law Be Our Guide, 74 NOTRE DAME L. REV. 1209
    (1999); Howard M. Erichson, Interjurisdictional Preclusion, 96
    MICH. L. REV. 945 (1998); Gary Thompson, The Rooker-Feldman
    Doctrine and the Subject Matter Jurisdiction of Federal District
    Courts, 42 RUTGERS L. REV. 859 (1990).
    
                                     14
    credit to a state court judgment.”).   For example, in Gauthier
    
    v. Continental Diving Services. Inc., this court “decline[d] to
    
    apply Rooker-Feldman in a way that would require a federal court
    
    to give greater deference to a state court judgment than a court
    
    of the state in which the judgment was rendered would give it.”
    
    
    831 F.2d 559
    , 561 (5th Cir. 1987).   This court found:
    
         Rooker-Feldman casts in jurisdictional terms a rule that is
         very close if not identical to the more familiar principle
         that a federal court must give full faith and credit to a
         state court judgment. To satisfy the full faith and credit
         requirement, a federal court must give the same deference
         to a state court judgment that a court of the rendering
         state would give it.
    
    Id. (citations omitted); see also Davis, 70 F.3d at 376.     Our
    
    determination of the Rooker-Feldman issue, thus, turns on the
    
    preclusive effect Louisiana courts would give to the Third
    
    Circuit’s reversal of summary judgment in favor of Johnson and
    
    Keller, a decision that also decided the constitutionality of
    
    the Act.   As will be demonstrated, Louisiana’s res judicata law
    
    comports with this circuit’s existing jurisprudence, requiring a
    
    final state court judgment before the Rooker-Feldman doctrine
    
    bars federal jurisdiction.
    
    
    
         B. Final Judgments Under Louisiana’s Res Judicata Law
    
         The question whether Avoyelles-Decuir would be barred from
    
    litigating their claims in Louisiana state court is determined
    
    by analyzing Louisiana’s res judicata law.   Louisiana’s res
    
    judicata statute, LA. REV. STAT. ANN. § 13:4231, provides:
    
                                    15
         Except as otherwise provided by law, a valid and final
         judgment is conclusive between the same parties, except on
         appeal or other direct review, to the following extent:
         (1) If the judgment is in favor of the plaintiff, all
         causes of action existing at the time of final judgment
         arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the
         subject matter of the litigation are extinguished and
         merged in the judgment.
         (2) If the judgment is in favor of the defendant, all
         causes of action existing at the time of final judgment
         arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the
         subject matter of the litigation are extinguished and the
         judgment bars a subsequent action on those causes of
         action.
         (3) A judgment in favor of either the plaintiff or the
         defendant is conclusive, in any subsequent action between
         them, with respect to any issue actually litigated and
         determined if its determination was essential to that
         judgment.
    
    LA. REV. STAT. ANN. § 13:4231 (West 1993).   As a Louisiana court
    
    recently explained, res judicata is broadly construed:
    
         La. R.S. 13:4231 embraces the broad usage of the phrase
         “res judicata” to include both claim preclusion (res
         judicata) and issue preclusion (collateral estoppel).
         Under claim preclusion, a final judgment on the merits
         precludes the parties from relitigating matters that were
         or could have been raised in that action. Under issue
         preclusion or collateral estoppel, however, once a court
         decides an issue of fact or law necessary to its judgment,
         that decision precludes relitigation of the same issue in a
         different cause of action between the same parties.
    
    Hudson v. City of Bossier, 33,620 (La. App. 2 Cir. 8/25/00), 
    766 So. 2d 738
    , 743, writ denied, (La. 11/27/00).     Therefore,
    
    “[a]fter a final judgment, res judicata bars relitigation of any
    
    subject matter arising from the same transaction or occurrence
    
    of a previous suit. . . . A judgment determining the merits of a
    
    case is a final judgment.”   Tate v. Prewitt, 33,895 (La. App. 2
    
    Cir. 9/27/00), 
    769 So. 2d 800
    , 803, reh’g denied, (10/26/00).
    
    
                                     16
    “Once a final judgment acquires the authority of the thing
    
    adjudged, no court has jurisdiction to change the judgment.”
    
    Id. at 804.14
    
         Further, the res judicata doctrine requires “the existence
    
    of three ‘identities’ between the previous and subsequent suits:
    
    (1) the thing demanded must be the same; (2) the cause of action
    
    must be the same; and (3) the same parties must be appearing in
    
    the same capacity.”   Gilbreath v. Gilbreath, 32,292 (La. App. 2
    
    Cir. 9/22/99), 
    743 So. 2d 300
    , 303; see also Thurston v.
    
    Thurston, 31895 (La. App. 2 Cir. 8/20/99), 
    740 So. 2d 268
    , 269-
    
    70 (recognizing the three identities and finding that “[t]he
    
    doctrine of res judicata is strictly construed.   Any doubt
    
    regarding compliance with its requirements is to be resolved in
    
    favor of maintaining the plaintiff’s action.”).
    
    
    
    
         14
             The 1990 comments to Louisiana’s res judicata statute,
    LA. REV. STAT. ANN. § 13:4231, provide guidance about the
    definition of a valid final judgment. Under the heading “Valid
    and Final,” the Comment explains:
    
         To have any preclusive effect a judgment must be valid, that
         is, it must have been rendered by a court with jurisdiction
         over subject matter and over parties, and proper notice must
         have been given. The judgment must also be a final
         judgment, that is, a judgment that disposes of the merits in
         whole or in part. The use of the phrase “final judgment”
         also means that the preclusive effect of a judgment attaches
         once a final judgment has been signed by the trial court and
         would bar any action filed thereafter unless the judgment is
         reversed on appeal.
    
    LA. REV. STAT. ANN. § 13:4231 cmt. D.
    
                                     17
         Two important principles are distilled from the above
    
    review of Louisiana law.    First, in order for the doctrine of
    
    res judicata to apply, there must be a final judgment.     See
    
    State v. Shaddinger, 97-439 (La. App. 5 Cir. 10/28/97), 
    702 So. 2d
     965, 970 (“The principle of res judicata is applicable only
    
    where a final judgment has been rendered.”), writ denied, 97-
    
    2989 (La. 2/6/98), 
    709 So. 2d 743
    ; G.B.F. v. Keys, 29,006 (La.
    
    App. 2 Cir. 1/22/97), 
    687 So. 2d 632
    , 634 (“In order to plead
    
    res judicata, it is necessary that there be a final judgment.”),
    
    writ denied, 97-0385 (La. 3/21/97), 
    691 So. 2d 94
    .     Second,
    
    there must be an identity of parties and cause of action between
    
    the suits.
    
    
    
    1. The District Court’s Denial of Avoyelles-Decuir’s Motion for
    
     an Injunction and Consolidated Trial on the Merits on Rooker-
    
                               Feldman Grounds
    
         In the instant case, the district court determined that the
    
    Third Circuit’s reversal of the grant of summary judgment to
    
    Avoyelles-Decuir was a judgment that barred federal district
    
    court review of Avoyelles-Decuir’s motion for an injunction and
    
    consolidated trial on the merits.     While we agree with the
    
    principle that such federal intervention in ongoing state
    
    proceedings implicates serious concerns of federalism, we
    
    disagree with the district court’s application of the Rooker-
    
    Feldman doctrine.   See H.C. v. Koppel, 
    203 F.3d 610
    , 612 (9th
    
                                     18
    Cir. 2000) (“Because we are not asked to review the merits of a
    
    final state judgment, but rather to enjoin ongoing state
    
    proceedings, we conclude that principles of abstention rather
    
    than Rooker-Feldman govern this case.”).
    
         From our review of Louisiana law, this reversal of a grant
    
    of summary judgment is not a final judgment implicating res
    
    judicata and, thus, under the law of this circuit, not a final
    
    judgment implicating the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.   See Lee v.
    
    Allied Chem. Co., 
    337 So. 2d 525
    , 525 (La. 1976) (stating in a
    
    denial of a writ of certiorari, “Since the court of appeal
    
    reversed a summary judgment and remanded[,] the judgment is not
    
    final and will not be reviewed at this time”); Lorio v. Safeco
    
    Ins. Co., 
    318 So. 2d 54
    , 54 (La. 1975) (similarly denying writ
    
    and stating, “Since the matter was remanded for trial upon
    
    reversal of summary judgment, . . . the judgment is not final”).
    
    The parties in oral argument before the district court also
    
    appear to have conceded that the Third Circuit’s decision was
    
    not a final judgment,15 and the district court found “[i]t is
    
    
         15
            At the April 20, 2000 federal district court proceeding,
    the district court asked Special Assistant Attorney General
    Michael Skinner: “And you would agree that we don’t have a
    situation where the state has rendered a final judgment?” To
    which Skinner responded: “I believe that’s correct, your honor.”
    In similar fashion, John Baker, attorney for Avoyelles-Decuir,
    argued to the court: “[Y]our honor has already indicated, and Mr.
    Skinner agreed with you, that there was no final judgment for
    purposes of state court at this point, and that knocks out
    Rooker-Feldman.”
         Further, if the Third Circuit’s opinion was a final judgment
    with res judicata effect, CNI would have been barred from raising
    
                                   19
    true, as the plaintiffs argue, that no final judgment has been
    
    reached in the state court matter.”
    
         While our holding on the Rooker-Feldman doctrine turns on
    
    the above analysis of Louisiana law, we note that this
    
    requirement of a final state judgment has been a consistent
    
    requirement in this circuit’s federal Rooker-Feldman
    
    jurisprudence.   As is evidenced by the purpose and language of
    
    Feldman and subsequent cases, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine in
    
    this circuit has always been triggered by some state court final
    
    judgment.   Feldman, itself, involved a final judicial decision
    
    of the highest court of a jurisdiction, see 460 U.S. at 486,
    
    thus tracking § 1257's requirement of “[f]inal judgments or
    
    decrees rendered by the highest court of a State in which a
    
    decision could be had.”   28 U.S.C. § 1257.   This circuit has
    
    also followed the rule that there must be some final judgment of
    
    some state court before the Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars federal
    
    jurisdiction.    See Weekly v. Morrow, 
    204 F.3d 613
    , 615 (5th Cir.
    
    2000) (finding Rooker-Feldman to bar federal district court
    
    review after appellant appealed state judgment at each level of
    
    Louisiana state court system and then to the United States
    
    Supreme Court); Reitnauer v. Tex. Exotic Feline Found. Inc., 
    152 F.3d 341
    , 344 (5th Cir. 1998) (finding district court violated
    
    
    the issues again in state court. At the time of briefing for
    this appeal, there was a scheduled state court hearing planned
    for May 5, 2000 on the constitutional issues, which apparently
    were not barred by Louisiana res judicata law.
    
                                     20
    the Rooker-Feldman doctrine by sitting in appellate review of
    
    the state court judgment); Davis v. Bayless, 
    70 F.3d 367
    , 376
    
    (5th Cir. 1995) (finding judicial order authorizing receivers to
    
    take possession of receivership property not to be a final
    
    judgment under Texas law and thus to preclude application of the
    
    Rooker-Feldman doctrine); Liedtke v. State Bar of Tex., 
    18 F.3d 315
    , 317 (5th Cir. 1994) (finding state court default judgment
    
    disbarring lawyer, which was not timely and properly appealed in
    
    state court, barred federal review under the Rooker-Feldman
    
    doctrine); Phinizy v. Alabama, 
    847 F.2d 282
    , 283 (5th Cir. 1988)
    
    (disallowing under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine a federal
    
    challenge to an Alabama probate court’s judgment that had been
    
    appealed several times through state and federal courts).16   We
    
    
         16
            Despite the pattern of requiring a final judgment in
    this circuit, the level of the required state court judgment has
    not been conclusively established. For example, on one occasion,
    this court has interpreted the Rooker-Feldman doctrine to apply
    only to final state court judgments as rendered by the highest
    court of a state in which a decision could be had. See In re
    Meyerland, 
    960 F.2d 512
    , 516 (5th Cir. 1992) (“Under the Rooker-
    Feldman line of cases, federal statute defines ‘final state court
    judgments’ as those ‘rendered by the highest court of a state in
    which a decision could be had.’” (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1257(a)).
    In contrast, in a pre-Meyerland case, this court held that the
    Rooker-Feldman doctrine barred federal review of a state court
    divorce decree that had been entered and was being appealed. See
    Hale v. Harney, 
    786 F.2d 688
    , 691 (5th Cir. 1986) (“We hold no
    warrant to review even final judgments of state courts, let alone
    those which may never take final effect because they remain
    subject to revision in the state appellate system.”). Hale did
    not involve a decision of the state’s highest court, as it
    invoked Rooker-Feldman on the basis of a state trial court
    divorce decree that was final (subject to appeal). Hale has been
    cited for the holding that the Fifth Circuit does not require a
    final judgment for purposes of Rooker-Feldman. While Hale stands
    
                                   21
    note that other circuits have differed on what stage of state
    
    judgment precludes federal jurisdiction in Rooker-Feldman
    
    cases.17
    
         Therefore, under this analysis, at a minimum there must be
    
    some state court final judgment before the Rooker-Feldman
    
    doctrine properly precludes federal jurisdiction.   Because the
    
    
    for the proposition that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine can be
    invoked before a final judgment of the highest state court, it
    does not resolve the question whether the Rooker-Feldman doctrine
    applies even before a final judgment of a state court.
         We need not definitively resolve this conflict today,
    because following both Meyerland and Hale, this circuit has
    always required that there be at least some final state court
    judgment from some state court, a requirement that is lacking in
    the instant case.
         17
            For example, some circuits have invoked Rooker-Feldman
    without a final judgment on the merits. See Richardson v. D.C.
    Court of Appeals, 
    83 F.3d 1513
    , 1515 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (finding
    that Rooker-Feldman applies to state court’s interlocutory
    judgments); Charchenko v. City of Stillwater, 
    47 F.3d 981
    , 983
    n.1 (8th Cir. 1995) (holding that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine is
    broader than claim and issue preclusion because it does not rely
    on final judgments). Other circuits have required that a final
    judgment issue before Rooker-Feldman can be applied. See United
    States v. Owen, 
    54 F.3d 271
    , 274 (6th Cir. 1995). In a recent
    First Circuit case, the court keyed its Rooker-Feldman final
    judgment analysis to whether, under § 1257, the Supreme Court
    could grant certiorari. See Hill v. Town of Conway, 
    193 F.3d 33
    ,
    40 (1999). The court focused on the language in § 1257 granting
    Supreme Court review of “final judgments or decrees rendered by
    the highest court of a State in which a decision could be had.”
    Id. (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1257). The court then found that when a
    state supreme court (the highest court) exercises its discretion
    to decline to review a judgment of a lower state court, then
    since the judgment of that lower state court is reviewable by the
    United States Supreme Court on certiorari, the Rooker-Feldman
    doctrine bars collateral review in federal district court. See
    id. The Hill case gives credence to the Meyerland interpretation
    of Rooker-Feldman. See In re Meyerland, 960 F.2d at 516
    (focusing on the “highest court of a state” language in § 1257);
    see also supra note 16.
    
                                   22
    reversal of summary judgment is not such a final judgment under
    
    Louisiana law, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine is not applicable.
    
    After a reversal of summary judgment, the state trial court is
    
    now charged with determining the merits of the cause of action.
    
    While we recognize that the trial court may well come to the
    
    same conclusion as the Third Circuit in regard to its
    
    constitutionality, it is not compelled to do so.18   In any event,
    
    
         18
            While the Third Circuit’s reversal of summary judgment
    and determination of the constitutional issues may provide “the
    law of the case,” the law of the case does not have res judicata
    effect. See Keller v. Thompson, 
    134 So. 2d 395
    , 398 (La. Ct.
    App. 1962) (recognizing the general rule that the law of the case
    should control subsequent decisions, but also that the law of the
    case is not a final judgment and therefore not res judicata and
    thus not conclusively binding). Under the law of the case
    doctrine in Louisiana, courts will generally defer to legal
    determinations such as the one made by the Third Circuit. Avenue
    Plaza, L.L.C. v. Falgoust, 96-0173 (La. 7/2/96), 
    676 So. 2d 1077
    ,
    1080. However, the decision to defer to these legal
    determinations is not equivalent to res judicata. See Keller,
    134 So. 2d at 398; see also Marsh Eng’g v. Parker, 96-1434 (La.
    9/27/96), 
    680 So. 2d 637
    , 637 n.3 (Lemmon, J., concurring) (“The
    ‘law of the case’ doctrine may apply as to [the litigated] issue
    in the intermediate court on an appeal after the district court
    on remand renders a judgment deciding the entirety of the merits.
    However, while an appellate court has the power to revisit an
    issue when the ‘law of the case’ doctrine applies, no court has
    the power to change a judgment that has become res judicata.”).
    As this court recognized in Loumar, Inc. v. Smith, while the two
    concepts are similar, the law of the case doctrine is a pragmatic
    and not a mandatory consideration:
    
         The law of the case doctrine is closely related to the
         principle of res judicata. The latter prevents collateral
         attack on the result of a completed lawsuit between the same
         parties; the former prevents collateral attacks against the
         court’s rulings during the pendency of a lawsuit. . . . Res
         judicata, however, is categoric and requires that respect be
         accorded the prior judgment, while the law of the case
         doctrine is merely a “rule of practice, based upon sound
         policy that when an issue is once litigated and decided,
    
                                   23
    there will be no final judgment with res judicata effect until
    
    the trial court determines the issue.19   This judgment, of
    
    course, will be reviewed through the proper state appellate
    
    process, and the Third Circuit is within its discretion to
    
    reverse itself on the constitutional issues.   Accordingly, the
    
    
         that should be the end of the matter.”
    
    
    698 F.2d 759
    , 762 (5th Cir. 1983) (citing United States v. U.S.
    Smelting Ref. & Mining Co., 
    339 U.S. 186
    , 198 (1950)); see also
    Pegues v. Morehouse Parish Sch. Bd., 
    706 F.2d 735
    , 738 (5th Cir.
    1983). In the instant case, not only has the state district
    court not ruled on the constitutionality of the statute, but the
    constitutional issues were never briefed or argued by Avoyelles-
    Decuir in any of the state court litigation. Thus, the Third
    Circuit could well hear the argument and reverse itself on
    appeal. We decline to extend the Rooker-Feldman doctrine to bar
    federal jurisdiction when law of the case doctrine applies, as it
    has the potential to create conflict with the law in this circuit
    and has not been briefed by the parties. Abstention doctrines
    serve well enough to resolve the issues without modifying our
    Rooker-Feldman jurisprudence.
         19
            Supporting the ongoing nature of the proceedings, the
    Third Circuit recently denied an application for a writ by Aymond
    (not a party in the federal case) recognizing:
    
         [T]he ruling of the trial court as to the constitutionality
         of the Louisiana Electronic Surveillance Act, La. R. S.
         15:1301 et seq., as applied to the facts of this case can be
         reviewed following the trial on the merits. Therefore, at
         this point in the litigation, we decline to exercise this
         court’s supervisory jurisdiction to review the trial court’s
         ruling.
            With respect to the trial court’s declaring the
         foregoing statutory scheme unconstitutional insofar as
         criminal proceedings are concerned, we find that the trial
         court was without authority to decide this issue as the only
         matter before the trial court at this time is the civil
         proceeding; consequently, this portion of the trial court’s
         ruling is obiter dictum.
    
    Johnson v. Aymond, No. CW-00-00786 (La. App. 3 Cir. 7/7/00)
    (unpublished denial of writ).
    
                                   24
    lack of a final judgment precludes application of the Rooker-
    
    Feldman doctrine, and the district court erred in applying it.
    
    
    
    2. The District Court’s Grant of Defendants-Appellees’ Motion to
    
                 Dismiss the Declaratory Judgment Actions
    
         Because the district court granted Ieyoub’s motion to
    
    dismiss on Rooker-Feldman grounds, we address that
    
    jurisdictional bar first.   The Rooker-Feldman doctrine, however,
    
    does not end our analysis as to the district court’s subject-
    
    matter jurisdiction.   On appeal, Ieyoub also raises an Eleventh
    
    Amendment argument, stating that because the Attorney General
    
    has no direct authority to bring criminal charges against
    
    Avoyelles-Decuir, the declaratory judgment action is barred as a
    
    suit against the state.   However, because we find that this lack
    
    of authority negates Avoyelles-Decuir’s Article III standing to
    
    bring the declaratory judgment action, we do not reach the
    
    Eleventh Amendment issue.
    
    a.   Rooker-Feldman and the Declaratory Judgment Action Targeting
    
                    the Criminal Provisions of the Act
    
         Under Louisiana’s res judicata law, Avoyelles-Decuir’s
    
    general declaratory challenge to the criminal penalties
    
    provision of the Act does not constitute a relitigation of the
    
    Third Circuit’s reversal of summary judgment in the civil suit.
    
    In addition to the lack of a final judgment, which under the law
    
    of this circuit, precludes application of the Rooker-Feldman
    
                                    25
    doctrine, under Louisiana law, the requirements of “identity of
    
    the parties” and “identity of the cause of action” are not met.
    
         As to identity of the parties, the Third Circuit’s reversal
    
    of summary judgment involved only the civil suit brought by
    
    Johnson and Keller.   No criminal charges have been brought
    
    against Avoyelles-Decuir, and at no point was Ieyoub a party to
    
    the state litigation.   Therefore, neither Ieyoub nor any other
    
    state official charged with enforcing the Act can rely on the
    
    res judicata effect of the state court’s reversal of summary
    
    judgment on a civil damages action.   See Burkhalter v. Palmer,
    
    2000-0491 (La. App. 4 Cir. 4/26/00), 
    764 So. 2d 85
    , 87, reh’g
    
    denied, (7/17/00) (finding that res judicata did not apply
    
    without identity of parties); see also FOCUS v. Allegheny County
    
    Court of Common Pleas, 
    75 F.3d 834
    , 841 (3d Cir. 1996) (finding
    
    that third parties not involved in state action are not barred
    
    by Rooker-Feldman); United States v. Owens, 
    54 F.3d 271
    , 274
    
    (6th Cir. 1995) (finding that Rooker-Feldman applies only to
    
    parties who participated in the state litigation).
    
         In addition, a declaratory judgment action challenging
    
    threatened criminal penalties may provide a different “cause of
    
    action” than what was decided by the Third Circuit.   The
    
    litigation would be based on a new complaint and based on a
    
    challenge to the criminal portions of the Act not at issue in
    
    Johnson and Keller’s lawsuit.   Accordingly, res judicata, and
    
    thus under the jurisprudence of this circuit, Rooker-Feldman,
    
                                    26
    would not apply to prevent state or federal courts from hearing
    
    Avoyelles-Decuir’s declaratory judgment action against the
    
    criminal application of the Act.20
    
     b. The Eleventh Amendment and the Declaratory Judgment Action
    
              Targeting the Criminal Provisions of the Act
    
         As stated, Ieyoub first raised the Eleventh Amendment issue
    
    on appeal.21   Ieyoub argues that the Eleventh Amendment, as
    
    interpreted by the Supreme Court, bars suits against the state.
    
    See U.S. CONST. amend. XI; Edelman v. Jordan, 
    415 U.S. 651
    , 663
    
    (1974); Ex Parte Young, 
    209 U.S. 123
    , 153 (1908); Hans v.
    
    Louisiana, 
    134 U.S. 1
    , 13-15 (1890).   In this case, because
    
    Ieyoub, as Attorney General, does not have specific enforcement
    
    power in criminal matters, and thus does not have enforcement
    
    
    
         20
            We recognize that the district court’s sua sponte
    dismissal of the declaratory judgment targeting the civil
    penalties provision of the Act presents a difficult question
    whether this declaratory challenge is a relitigation of the civil
    damages action brought by Johnson and Keller. It has been
    stipulated in the record that Avoyelles-Decuir will be sued again
    by Johnson and Keller if the recorded information is republished,
    and thus there exists threatened action of new civil litigation
    potentially not resolved by the Third Circuit’s decision.
    However, a federal court’s declaration that the civil provisions
    of the Act are unconstitutional would implicate the
    constitutional judgment of the Third Circuit and would raise
    legitimate questions of federal review of state court opinions.
    At this point in the litigation, without a final judgment entered
    in state court, we need not parse the “inextricably intertwined”
    nature of these claims.
         21
            This court may reach the Eleventh Amendment question in
    this posture. See Calderon v. Ashmus, 
    523 U.S. 740
    , 745 n.2
    (1998) (recognizing that the Eleventh Amendment issue can be
    raised at any stage of the proceedings).
    
                                    27
    power to prosecute Avoyelles-Decuir, Ieyoub argues that the
    
    declaratory judgment action is, in essence, a suit against the
    
    state.   See Young, 209 U.S. at 153 (“[I]t is plain that such
    
    officer must have some connection with the enforcement of the
    
    act, or else it is merely making him a party as a representative
    
    of the state, and thereby attempting to make the state a
    
    party.”).
    
         Ieyoub’s argument is based on the delegation of statutory
    
    powers in Louisiana.   Under Article IV, § 8 of the Louisiana
    
    Constitution, the Attorney General is granted authority to
    
    prosecute only “upon the written request of a district attorney,
    
    to advise and assist in the prosecution of a criminal case . . .
    
    [or] for cause, when authorized by the court which would have
    
    original jurisdiction and subject to judicial review.”   L A.
    
    CONST. art. IV, § 8.   The true authority and responsibility to
    
    prosecute criminal matters in Louisiana lies with the local
    
    district attorney, pursuant to Article V, § 26(B) of the
    
    Louisiana Constitution, which states: “Except as otherwise
    
    provided by this constitution, a district attorney, or his
    
    designated assistant, shall have charge of every criminal
    
    prosecution by the state in his district.”   LA. CONST. art. V,
    
    § 26(B), see also Guidry v. Roberts, 
    331 So. 2d 44
    , 52-53 (La.
    
    App. 1 Cir. 1976), aff’d in part & rev’d in part on other
    
    grounds, 
    335 So. 2d 438
     (La. 1976) (“It is clear that a district
    
    attorney has the sole authority to determine when and against
    
                                    28
    whom a criminal charge shall be instituted subject only to the
    
    power vested in the attorney general to supercede that authority
    
    upon a showing of cause.”).   As Ieyoub correctly argues, in
    
    order for his prosecutorial power to be invoked, the district
    
    attorney must first recuse himself and request the Attorney
    
    General’s assistance.   See Fox v. Reed, CIV.A.No. 99-3094, 
    2000 WL 288379
    , at *5 (E.D. La. Mar. 16, 2000) (“Under Louisiana law,
    
    the Attorney General may not bring a criminal prosecution solely
    
    on his authority.   The Louisiana Constitution vests that
    
    authority in the first instance in local district attorneys.”).
    
         In the instant case, Ieyoub is the named defendant,
    
    presumably because the district attorney recused himself from
    
    the criminal prosecution of Aymond.   Avoyelles-Decuir are
    
    correct that Ieyoub has specific authority to prosecute Aymond
    
    and has more than a “general enforcement power” and, thus, more
    
    than “some connection” in the prosecution of Aymond.22   The
    
    difficulty, as is apparent, is that there is simply no guarantee
    
    that the district attorney in any future prosecution would
    
    recuse himself from the matter.23
    
    
         22
            We acknowledge Avoyelles-Decuir’s concern that Ieyoub’s
    office has conducted a grand jury investigation into the matter,
    an investigation that has resulted in subpoenas issued to
    reporters who work for Avoyelles Publishing. This investigation,
    however, was targeted toward Aymond.
         23
            We also acknowledge Avoyelles-Decuir’s argument that any
    subsequent prosecution will be based on the original recording
    and would thus implicate the same issues for the district
    attorney in regard to his recusal. However likely this
    
                                    29
         Thus, in arguing that the Attorney General lacks the
    
    criminal authority to prosecute Avoyelles-Decuir, Ieyoub
    
    highlights a more fundamental jurisdictional problem in this
    
    case: namely that Avoyelles-Decuir, in framing their declaratory
    
    action against Ieyoub, have failed to establish that they have
    
    Article III standing for this claim.   See Sierra Club, Lone Star
    
    Chapter v. Cedar Point Oil Co., 
    73 F.3d 546
    , 555 n.22 (5th Cir.
    
    1996) (“Standing is a jurisdictional requirement, and may always
    
    be addressed for the first time on appeal.”).   Constitutional
    
    standing, as a requirement of Article III justiciability, is a
    
    threshold inquiry.   See Calderon v. Ashmus, 
    523 U.S. 740
    , 745
    
    (1998) (declining to decide the Eleventh Amendment issue on
    
    which the Court granted certiorari because, “in keeping with our
    
    precedents, [we] have decided that we must first address whether
    
    this action for a declaratory judgment is the sort of ‘Article
    
    III’ ‘case or controversy’ to which federal courts are
    
    limited”); United States v. Hays, 
    515 U.S. 737
    , 742 (1995)
    
    (“[W]e are required to address the issue [of standing] even if
    
    the courts below have not passed on it, and even if the parties
    
    fail to raise the issue before us.   The federal courts are under
    
    an independent obligation to examine their own jurisdiction, and
    
    
    
    eventuality may be, it may also be the case that a subsequent
    district attorney could be in office who would not have the same
    conflict of interest as Eddie Knoll and, thus, would not recuse
    himself. We refuse to base our decision on factual scenarios
    that may not occur.
    
                                    30
    standing ‘is perhaps the most important of [the jurisdictional]
    
    doctrines’” (quoting FW/PBS, Inc. v. Dallas, 
    493 U.S. 215
    , 231
    
    (1990))).   Following Calderon, we first address the standing
    
    issue.   See 523 U.S. at 745.
    
      c. Article III Standing and the Declaratory Judgment Action
    
                Targeting the Criminal Provisions of the Act
    
         A brief review of our standing jurisprudence demonstrates
    
    Avoyelles-Decuir’s error in naming Ieyoub as the defendant in
    
    their declaratory judgment action.    The Supreme Court has
    
    recognized three requirements of Article III standing:
    
         It is by now well settled that “the irreducible
         constitutional minimum of standing contains three elements.
         First, the plaintiff must have suffered an ‘injury in
         fact’-- an invasion of a legally protected interest that is
         (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) actual or
         imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical. Second, there
         must be a causal connection between the injury and the
         conduct complained of. . . . Third, it must be likely, as
         opposed to merely speculative, that the injury will be
         redressed by a favorable decision.”
    
    Hays, 515 U.S. at 742-43 (footnote, citations, and internal
    
    quotation omitted) (quoting Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 
    504 U.S. 555
    , 560-61 (1992)).
    
          The difficulty in Avoyelles-Decuir’s standing lies in the
    
    second element of the standing analysis, that there is no causal
    
    connection between the “injury” and the “conduct complained of.”
    
    Because Avoyelles-Decuir chose to name Ieyoub and not the
    
    district attorney charged with enforcing criminal penalties
    
    under the Act, the declaratory judgment action fails to link
    
    
                                     31
    Ieyoub to the injury.   In order to establish a “causal
    
    connection,” there must be causation between the challenged
    
    conduct of the defendant and the claimed injury.     See Lujan, 504
    
    U.S. at 560; see also Simon v. Eastern Ky. Welfare Rights Org.,
    
    
    426 U.S. 26
    , 41-42 (1976).
    
         In the instant action, defendant Ieyoub is statutorily
    
    prevented from enforcing the Act that would cause the injury.
    
    Thus, in this particular factual situation, the lack of
    
    connection undermines Article III standing.     See S. Pac. Transp.
    
    v. Brown, 
    651 F.2d 613
    , 615 (9th Cir. 1980) (holding that
    
    plaintiffs lacked standing for suit against Attorney General
    
    when the district attorneys, and not the Attorney General, were
    
    statutorily charged with enforcing the laws); Shell Oil Co. v.
    
    Noel, 
    608 F.2d 208
    , 212-13 (1st Cir. 1979) (finding no Article
    
    III case or controversy in declaratory judgment action against
    
    Attorney General and Governor where there was no showing that
    
    defendants had the authority to enforce the act in question and
    
    there was no threat to enforce act); see also 1st Westco Corp.
    
    v. Preate, 
    6 F.3d 108
    , 114-15 (3d Cir. 1993).
    
         Because Avoyelles-Decuir fail to demonstrate the causal
    
    connection prong of our standing requirement, we do not address
    
    the redressability element of the proposed declaratory judgment
    
    action.   Further, because our standing analysis makes
    
    unnecessary a further discussion of the Eleventh Amendment, we
    
    
    
                                    32
    do not address the issue.
    
    
    
                                IV. CONCLUSION
    
         For the foregoing reasons, we REVERSE the district court’s
    
    judgment except insofar as it dismissed the declaratory judgment
    
    action targeting the criminal provisions of the Act, such
    
    dismissal being AFFIRMED.    We do not foreclose the use of any
    
    other appropriate abstention doctrine.       We REMAND for further
    
    proceedings consistent with this opinion.       Each party shall bear
    
    its own costs.
    
    
    
    
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