Hall v. Frauenheim et al

Filing 53

ORDER STAYING 43 Motion for Reconsideration and REFERRING Matter to the Magistrate Judge in Order to Conduct a Competency Hearing signed by District Judge Anthony W. Ishii on 7/21/2017. (Jessen, A)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 9 RICHARD B. HALL, 10 11 12 13 CASE NO. 1:16-CV-263 AWI SAB Plaintiff v. SCOTT FRAUENHEIM, et al., Defendants ORDER STAYING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND REFERRING MATTER TO THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE IN ORDER TO CONDUCT A COMPETENCY HEARING 14 15 (Doc. No. 43) 16 17 Plaintiff Richard Hall is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 18 civil rights action. Hall is a prisoner at Salinas Valley State Prison, but the acts that form the basis 19 of this lawsuit occurred at Pleasant Valley State Prison. 20 21 22 On March 6, 2017, the Magistrate Judge screened Hall’s first amended complaint (“FAC”). See Doc. No. 35. The Magistrate Judge dismissed the FAC with leave to amend. On April 17, 2017, Hall filed objections, which this Court has taken to be a motion for 23 reconsideration. See Doc. No. 43. As part the motion for reconsideration, certain representations 24 were made. Significantly, the motion states that this matter is being pursued through a non-court- 25 appointed next friend and that Hall is appearing through the next friend. See id. The motion also 26 indicates that Hall may lack the capacity to prosecute this case, and notes that Hall has been given 27 a “DDZ” status and has cognitive limitations, a nerve palsy in his right hand, an inability to read, 28 and memory problems, all of which are confirmed in medical findings. See id. 1 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17 states in pertinent part that an “incompetent person 2 who does not have a duly appointed representative may sue by a next friend or by a guardian ad 3 litem. The court must appoint a guardian ad litem – or issue another appropriate order – to protect 4 a minor or incompetent person who is unrepresented in an action.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 17(c)(2). Rule 5 17(c)(2) requires a district court to “take whatever measures it deems proper to protect an 6 incompetent person during litigation.” Davis v. Walker, 745 F.3d 1303, 1311 (9th Cir. 2014) 7 (quoting United States v. 30.64 Acres of Land, 795 F.2d 796, 805 (9th Cir. 1986). “Ordinarily, 8 when a substantial question exists regarding the mental competence of a party proceeding pro se, 9 the proper procedure is for the district court to conduct a hearing to determine competence, so a 10 guardian ad litem can be appointed, if necessary.” Harris v. Mangum, --- F.3d ---, 2017 WL 11 3027545, *3 (9th Cir. 2017) (quoting Allen v. Calderon, 408 F.3d 1150, 1153 (9th Cir. 2005)); see 12 Krain v. Smallwood, 880 F.2d 1119, 1121 (9th Cir. 1989). If a party is found to be incompetent, 13 there are a number of orders or procedures that can be issued in order to protect the incompetent 14 litigant’s interests. See Davis, 745 F.3d at 1311; Krain, 880 F.2d at 1121. District courts have 15 broad discretion in fashioning such protective orders. Harris, --- F.3d at ----, 2017 WL 3027545 at 16 *3 (citing Davis, 745 F.3d at 1311). 17 dismiss the case without prejudice.” Krain, 880 F.2d at 1121. 18 However, if “a party fails to cooperate . . . the court may Here, based on the representations in the motion for reconsideration, as well as other 19 documents in the file, the Court has concerns over Hall’s competency to pursue this case. Under 20 these circumstances, the Court finds that the appropriate course is to refer the matter to the 21 Magistrate Judge in order to conduct a competency hearing. See Harris, --- F.3d ---, 2017 WL 22 3027545 at *3; Allen, 408 F.3d at 1153; Krain, 880 F.2d at 1121. Upon completion of the 23 competency hearing, the Magistrate Judge shall issue a Findings and Recommendations regarding 24 Hall’s competency. See 28 U.S.C. § 626(b). If the Magistrate Judge finds that Hall is not 25 competent, the Findings and Recommendations shall include recommendations regarding any 26 appropriate procedures or orders that would protect Hall’s interests and permit this case to move 27 forward. 28 2 1 ORDER 2 Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: 3 1. This matter is referred to the Magistrate Judge for the purposes of issuing a 4 Findings and Recommendation regarding Plaintiff’s competency and possible 5 orders and procedures to protect Plaintiff’s interests, if the Magistrate Judge finds 6 that Plaintiff is not competent; and 7 2. Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration, and the March 27, 2017 Screening Order’s 8 deadline in which to file a Second Amended Complaint, are STAYED until this 9 Court rules on the forthcoming Findings and Recommendations. 10 11 12 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: July 21, 2017 SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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