Jones v. California State Superior Courts, et al.

Filing 12

SCREENING ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND signed by Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe on 10/5/2017. (Attachments: # 1 Complaint Form). (Amended Complaint due by 11/9/2017). (Lundstrom, T)

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1 2 3 4 5 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 6 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 7 8 9 DENO JONES, Plaintiff, 10 v. 11 12 CALIFORNIA STATE SUPERIOR COURTS, et al., 13 Defendants. 14 15 16 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) 1:17-cv-00232-DAD-BAM (PC) SCREENING ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF No. 1) THIRTY (30) DAY DEADLINE Plaintiff Deno Jones (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil rights 17 action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff initiated this action on February 17, 2017. 18 Plaintiff’s complaint, filed on February 17, 2017 (ECF No. 1), is currently before the Court for 19 screening. 20 I. Screening Requirement and Standard 21 The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a 22 governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 23 1915A(a). Plaintiff’s complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or 24 malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary 25 relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2); 28 U.S.C. 26 § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). 27 28 1 1 A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the 2 pleader is entitled to relief. . . .” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not 3 required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere 4 conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 5 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 6 (2007)). While a plaintiff’s allegations are taken as true, courts “are not required to indulge 7 unwarranted inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) 8 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). 9 Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings 10 liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 11 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). To survive screening, Plaintiff’s claims must be facially 12 plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each 13 named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 14 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. United States Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 15 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere 16 consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 17 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969. 18 II. 19 Plaintiff’s Allegations Plaintiff is currently housed at California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in 20 Corcoran, CA. Plaintiff brings suit against (1) California State Superior Courts, (2) California 21 Department of Corrections, (3) California State Parole Hearing Board, and (4) California State 22 Attorney General. 23 Plaintiff alleges he filed applications under Proposition 57, Sentence Reform Act, to be 24 given effect to him, and it authorizes a court action as remedy should the government refuse to 25 give Proposition 57 effect. The Defendants California Superior Courts, California Department of 26 Correction and Rehabilitation, California Parole Hearing Board and the California State Attorney 27 General have failed to give effect to Proposition 57. Plaintiff alleges he is eligible under 28 Proposition 57 for a sentence reduction, as he is no longer considered a three-striker. In Claim I, 2 1 Plaintiff alleges a denial of access to the Court. In Claim II, Plaintiff alleges false imprisonment. 2 Plaintiff applied for the remedy and benefit of Proposition 57 and has been denied. In Claim III, 3 Plaintiff alleges a Due Process violation based upon the same facts. 4 Plaintiff asks for an injunction or mandate to compel Defendants to act consistent with 5 Proposition 57 and also asks for an award of damages for each day Plaintiff has spent in custody 6 beyond his release date. 7 III. 8 9 10 Deficiencies in Complaint As discussed more fully below, Plaintiff's complaint fails to state a cognizable claim. Plaintiff will be given leave to amend his complaint. To assist Plaintiff in amending his complaint, the Court provides the following pleading and legal standards that apply to his claims. 11 A. Linkage and Eleventh Amendment 12 Plaintiff sues several State entities for alleged constitutional violations. 13 1. Lack of Linkage 14 Most of plaintiff's allegations fail to assert the requisite causal link between the 15 challenged conduct, a specific defendant, and a clearly identified constitutional violation. Under 16 § 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each named defendant personally participated in the 17 deprivation of his rights. Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 676–7; Ewing v. City of Stockton, 588 F.3d 1218, 18 1235 (9th Cir. 2009); Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). Plaintiff may not 19 attribute liability to a group of defendants, but must “set forth specific facts as to each individual 20 defendant's” deprivation of his rights. Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988); see 21 also Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Liability may not be imposed on 22 supervisory personnel under the theory of respondeat superior, as each defendant is only liable 23 for his or her own misconduct. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676–77; Ewing, 588 F.3d at 1235. Supervisors 24 may only be held liable if they “participated in or directed the violations, or knew of the 25 violations and failed to act to prevent them.” Lemire v. Cal. Dept. of Corrections & 26 Rehabilitation, 726 F.3d 1062, 1074–75 (9th Cir. 2013). 27 /// 28 /// 3 1 2 2. Institutional Defendants Plaintiff names CDCR, California State Superior Courts, California State Parole Hearing 3 Board and the California State Attorney General as defendants in this action and seeks both 4 monetary and injunctive relief. 5 Plaintiff is informed that the Eleventh Amendment prohibits federal courts from hearing a 6 Section 1983 lawsuit in which damages or injunctive relief is sought against state agencies (such 7 as the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) and individual prisons, absent “a 8 waiver by the state or a valid congressional override....” Dittman v. California, 191 F.3d 1020, 9 1025 (9th Cir. 1999). “The Eleventh Amendment bars suits which seek either damages or 10 injunctive relief against a state, ‘an arm of the state,’ its instrumentalities, or its agencies.” See 11 Fireman's Fund Ins. Co. v. City of Lodi, Cal., 302 F.3d 928, 957 n. 28 (9th Cir. 2002) (internal 12 quotation and citations omitted), cert. denied, 538 U.S. 961 (2003). “The State of California has 13 not waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity with respect to claims brought under § 1983 in 14 federal court....” Dittman, 191 F.3d at 1025–26 (citing Atascadero State Hosp. v. Scanlon, 473 15 U.S. 234, 241 (1985)); see also Brown v. Cal. Dep't. of Corr., 554 F.3d 747, 752 (9th Cir. 2009). 16 “However, under Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908), the Eleventh Amendment does not bar 17 actions seeking only prospective declaratory or injunctive relief against state officers in their 18 official capacities[,]” Fireman's Fund, 302 F.3d at 957 n. 28 (internal quotation and citation 19 omitted), or, in appropriate instances, in their individual capacities, Idaho v. Coeur d'Alene Tribe 20 of Idaho, 521 U.S. 261, (1997) (citing Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. at 123). 21 22 In any amended complaint that he may file, Plaintiff should carefully consider whom he may properly name as a defendant in this action. 23 B. 24 On November 8, 2016, the California voters approved The Public Safety and Proposition 57 25 Rehabilitation Act of 2016—Proposition (“Prop”) 57—and it took effect the next day. People v. 26 Marquez, 11 Cal. App. 5th 816, 821, 217 Cal.Rptr.3d 814 (Cal. App. 2017); Cal. Const., Art. II, 27 § 10(a). Proposition 57 added Article 1, section 32 to the California Constitution. That section 28 provides, in relevant part, “Parole consideration: Any person convicted of a nonviolent felony 4 1 offense and sentenced to state prison shall be eligible for parole consideration after completing 2 the full term of his or her primary offense,” defined for these purposes as “the longest term of 3 imprisonment imposed by the court for any offense, excluding the imposition of an 4 enhancement, consecutive sentence, or alternative sentence.” (Cal. Const., art. I, § 32, subds. 5 (a)(1), (a)(1)(A).) Proposition 57 only provides an inmate who has completed his base term with 6 a hearing before the Board of Parole Hearings (Cal. Const. Art. I, Sec. 32(a)). 7 No California federal court has had cause to screen a section 1983 complaint with similar 8 allegations. California state court cases addressing application of Proposition 57 are unpublished 9 decisions (See Cal. Rules of Court 8.1115). They, nonetheless, uniformly state that Proposition 10 57 creates a mechanism for parole consideration, not a vehicle for resentencing, and does not 11 entitle Plaintiff to seek relief in court in the first instance. Indeed, the plain language of the Art. 12 I, sec. 32 provides that a person is eligible for “parole consideration.” Any determination as to 13 appellant's right to parole under Proposition 57 must be made, in the first instance, by the 14 appropriate agency. 15 Further, Plaintiff’s claim is not cognizable under §1983 as it asserts only a violation or 16 misinterpretation of state law. Section 1983 provides a remedy only for violation of the 17 Constitution or law or treaties of the United States. Swarthout v. Cooke, 562 U.S. 216, 222, 131 18 S. Ct. 859, 863, 178 L. Ed. 2d 732 (2011) (the responsibility for assuring that the constitutionally 19 adequate procedures governing California's parole system are properly applied rests with 20 California courts). Plaintiff has not alleged that he qualifies for parole consideration under the 21 requirements of Proposition 57, since Plaintiff alleges that the protocol for “parole 22 consideration” has not yet been established. Plaintiff alleges he is “no longer a three striker,” but 23 this does not bring him within the language of Proposition 57. State courts “are the ultimate 24 expositors of state law.” Mullaney v. Wilbur, 421 U.S. 684, 691, 95 S.Ct. 1881, 44 L.Ed.2d 508 25 (1975). 26 27 28 C. A Section 1983 Lawsuit Cannot Challenge Duration As an initial matter, to the extent Plaintiff seeks to challenge the duration or fact of his sentence, his sole federal remedy is a writ of habeas corpus and a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 5 1 is inappropriate. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 479 (1973) (“Release from penal custody is 2 not an available remedy under the Civil Rights Act”); Young v. Kenny, 907 F.2d 874, 875 (9th 3 Cir. 1989) (“Where a state prisoner challenges the fact or duration of his confinement, his sole 4 federal remedy is a writ of habeas corpus.”). 5 As explained below, in a § 1983 lawsuit, Plaintiff is restricted to limited procedural 6 challenges and cannot proceed if he seeks to challenge the validity or duration of his sentence. 7 Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 82 (2005) (“§ 1983 remains available for procedural 8 challenges where success in the action would not necessarily spell immediate or speedier release 9 for the prisoner...habeas remedies do not displace § 1983 actions where success in the civil rights 10 suit would not necessarily vitiate the legality of (not previously invalidated) state confinement.”). 11 Federal courts may order a new parole suitability hearing only under very limited circumstances 12 that are not alleged here. See Swarthout v. Cooke, 562 U.S. 216, 219-20 (2011) (federal courts 13 may not intervene in a BPH decision if minimum procedural protections were provided, i.e., an 14 opportunity to be heard and a statement of the reasons why parole was denied). Thus, Plaintiff’s 15 claims are not cognizable to the extent he is seeking to order his immediate or speedier release. 16 D. Due Process—Fourteenth Amendment 17 The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not provide any right “to be 18 conditionally released before the expiration of a valid sentence, and the States are under no duty 19 to offer parole to their prisoners.” Swarthout v. Cooke, 562 U.S. 216, 220 (2011). When a state 20 enacts a statutory scheme allowing parole, however, the state creates a liberty interest and “the 21 Due Process Clause requires fair procedures for its vindication.” Id. The liberty interest at issue 22 here is the interest in receiving parole consideration when the California standards for parole 23 have been met, and the minimum procedures adequate for due-process protection of that 24 interest.” Swarthout, 562 862. In the context of parole, the Supreme Court has held that 25 the procedures required are minimal. Swarthout, 562 U.S. at 220 (internal citations omitted). See 26 also Miller v. Oregon Bd. of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision, 642 F.3d 711, 716 (9th Cir. 27 2011) (“The Supreme Court held in Cooke that in the context of parole eligibility decisions the 28 6 1 due process right is procedural, and entitles a prisoner to nothing more than a fair hearing and a 2 statement of reasons for a parole board's decision....”). 3 The court is not convinced that there is mandatory language in Proposition 57 creating a 4 constitutionally protected liberty interest in parole eligibility, of which Plaintiff cannot be 5 deprived without due process. Compare Miller v. Oregon Bd. of Parole and Post-Prison 6 Supervision, 642 F.3d 711 (9th Cir.2011) (holding that Oregon's murder review statute creates a 7 liberty interest in early parole eligibility). Parole consideration of person who is eligible under 8 Proposition 57 is discretionary and is a matter of state law. Plaintiff may not “transform a state- 9 law issue into a federal one merely by asserting a violation of due process.” Langford v. Day, 10 110 F.3d 1380, 1389 (9th Cir. 1996) (citations omitted). The violation of state regulations, rules 11 and policies of the CDCR, or other state law is not sufficient to state a claim for relief under § 12 1983. Nonetheless, the Court will grant Plaintiff leave to amend to allege that standards for 13 parole have been met, and the minimum procedures adequate for due-process protection of that 14 interest have not been met, to the extent Plaintiff can do so in good faith. 15 16 E. Access to Court Prisoners have a constitutional right of access to the courts. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 17 343, 346 (1996); Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 821 (1977), limited in part on other grounds by 18 Lewis, 518 U.S. at 354. The right of access to the courts is limited to non-frivolous direct 19 criminal appeals, habeas corpus proceedings, and § 1983 actions. See Lewis, 518 U.S. at 353 n.3, 20 354-55. In order to frame a claim of a denial of the right to access the courts, a prisoner must 21 establish that he has suffered “actual injury,” a jurisdictional requirement derived from the 22 standing doctrine. Lewis, 518 U.S. at 349. An “actual injury” is “actual prejudice with respect to 23 contemplated or existing litigation, such as the inability to meet a filing deadline or to present a 24 claim.” Lewis, 518 U.S. at 348 (citation and internal quotations omitted); see also Alvarez v. 25 Hill, 518 F.3d 1152, 1155 n.1 (9th Cir. 2008) (noting that “[f]ailure to show that a ‘non-frivolous 26 legal claim had been frustrated’ is fatal” to a claim for denial of access to legal materials) (citing 27 Lewis, 518 U.S. at 353 & n.4). 28 Here, Plaintiff has not alleged a constitution violation of access to court. 7 1 2 F. State Claims Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a), in any civil action in which the district court has original 3 jurisdiction, the district court “shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims in the 4 action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy under 5 Article III,” except as provided in subsections (b) and (c). The Supreme Court has cautioned that 6 “if the federal claims are dismissed before trial, ... the state claims should be dismissed as well.” 7 United Mine Workers of America v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726 (1966). Although the court may 8 exercise supplemental jurisdiction over state law claims, Plaintiff must first have a cognizable 9 claim for relief under federal law. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367. 10 In this instance, Plaintiff fails to state a claim for relief on his federal claims for 11 violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Liberally construing the claims in the complaint, it appears that 12 Plaintiff is bringing state law claims for false imprisonment. As Plaintiff has failed to state any 13 cognizable federal claims in this action, the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction 14 over Plaintiff's state law causes of action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3). Leave to amend will be 15 granted. 16 IV. 17 For the above reasons, Plaintiff’s complaint fails state a claim upon which relief may be Conclusion and Order 18 granted under section 1983. The Court will provide Plaintiff with an opportunity to amend his 19 complaint to cure the identified deficiencies to the extent he is able to do so in good faith. Lopez 20 v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000). 21 Plaintiff’s amended complaint should be brief, Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a), but must state what 22 each named defendant did that led to the deprivation of Plaintiff’s constitutional or other federal 23 rights. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676. Plaintiff also must set forth “sufficient factual matter . . . to ‘state a 24 claim that is plausible on its face.’” Id. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). 25 Additionally, Plaintiff may not change the nature of this suit by adding new, unrelated 26 claims in his second amended complaint. George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007) (no 27 “buckshot” complaints). 28 8 1 Finally, Plaintiff is advised that an amended complaint supersedes the original complaint. 2 Lacey, 693 F.3d at 927. Therefore, Plaintiff’s second amended complaint must be “complete in 3 itself without reference to the prior or superseded pleading.” Local Rule 220. 4 Based on the foregoing, it is HEREBY ORDERED that: 5 1. The Clerk’s Office shall send Plaintiff a complaint form; 6 2. Plaintiff’s amended complaint, filed February 17, 2017 (ECF No. 1), is dismissed 7 8 9 10 for failure to state a claim; 3. Within thirty (30) days from the date of service of this order, Plaintiff shall file a first amended complaint or a notice of voluntary dismissal; and 4. If Plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint in compliance with this order, 11 the Court will dismiss this action, with prejudice, for failure to state a claim and to obey a 12 court order. 13 14 15 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: /s/ Barbara October 5, 2017 16 A. McAuliffe _ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 9

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