Trujillo v. Biter

Filing 73

ORDER ADOPTING FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 58 , 65 , signed by Chief Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill on 5/25/17: This case is referred back to the magistrate judge for further proceedings. (Hellings, J)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 8 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 9 10 GUILLERMO CRUZ TRUJILLO, 11 Plaintiff, 12 v. 13 1:14-cv-01370-LJO-EPG (PC) ORDER ADOPTING FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS (ECF. NOS. 58 & 65) GOMEZ, et al., 14 Defendants. 15 16 Guillermo Trujillo (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma 17 pauperis with this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case now 18 proceeds on Plaintiff’s Third Amended Complaint (ECF No. 17) against defendants Gomez, 19 Juarez, and Fernandez (“Defendants”) for excessive force in violation of the Eighth 20 Amendment. (ECF Nos. 19, 20, & 21). The matter was referred to a United States magistrate 21 judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302. 22 On February 13, 2017, defendants Gomez and Fernandez filed a motion for order 23 requiring Plaintiff to post security under Local Rule 151(b) (“the Motion”) on the ground that 24 Plaintiff qualifies as a vexatious litigant under California rules. (ECF No. 58). Plaintiff did not 25 file a response. 26 On March 22, 2017, Magistrate Judge Erica P. Grosjean entered findings and 27 recommendations, recommending the Motion be denied. (ECF No. 65). The findings and 28 recommendations concluded that, although Local Rule 151(b) explicitly adopts the rules set 1 1 forth in the California Code of Civil Procedure for determining whether litigants, including 2 those deemed vexatious, may be ordered to give a security, the court is still constrained by the 3 narrower federal standard for determining whether a litigant is vexatious. Defendants do not 4 argue that Plaintiff is a vexatious litigant under the federal standard. 5 The parties were provided an opportunity to file objections to the findings and 6 recommendations within twenty-one days. 7 recommendations. (ECF No. 66). Defendants argue that the Magistrate Judge erroneously 8 applied the federal standard, which requires a showing of bad faith or frivolousness before a 9 litigant is deemed vexatious, rather than the state standard adopted by Local Rule 151(b), which 10 defines a vexatious litigant as one who “in the immediately preceding seven-year period has 11 commenced, prosecuted, or maintained in propria persona at least five litigations . . . that have 12 been finally determined adversely to the person.” (ECF No. 66 at 3 (citing Cal. Civ. Proc. Code 13 § 391(b)(3)). Plaintiff also objected to the findings and recommendations, although he appears 14 to be opposing the substance of Defendants’ motion and objecting to its being denied without 15 prejudice. (ECF No. 67). Defendants objected to the findings and 16 In accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 304, this 17 court has conducted a de novo review of this case. Having carefully reviewed the entire file, 18 the court finds the findings and recommendations to be supported by the record and proper 19 analysis. 20 The central question here is whether courts in this district look to federal or state law in 21 determining whether a litigant qualifies as vexatious such that they may be required to post 22 bond. Federal courts’ power to enter pre-filing orders against vexatious litigants is derived 23 from the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651. See Molski v. Evergreen Dynasty Corp., 500 F.3d 24 1047, 1057 (9th Cir. 2007). Under federal law, such a pre-filing order is an extreme remedy 25 and should rarely be used since such sanction can tread on a litigant’s due process right of 26 access to the courts. Id. The Ninth Circuit has held that the court must make a specific finding 27 of “bad faith or conduct tantamount to bad faith” prior to imposing pre-filing sanctions against 28 a vexatious litigant. Fink v. Gomez, 239 F.3d 989, 994 (9th Cir. 2001). Ninth Circuit precedent 2 1 interpreting the parameters of courts’ power under the All Writs Act is binding upon this Court. 2 Although the local rules set the procedures for ordering a litigant to post security, this Court 3 cannot interpret the local rules to exceed the Court’s power under federal law. 4 Accordingly, THE COURT HEREBY ORDERS that: 5 1. The findings and recommendations issued by the magistrate judge on March 22, 6 2017, are ADOPTED in full; 7 2. The Motion is DENIED, without prejudice to Defendants filing another motion for 8 an order requiring Plaintiff to post security that is consistent with the federal 9 standards for determining whether a litigant is vexatious; and 10 3. This case is referred back to the magistrate judge for further proceedings. 11 12 13 14 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: /s/ Lawrence J. O’Neill _____ May 25, 2017 UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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