Soliz v. Tehama County Superior Court

Filing 7

ORDER signed by Magistrate Judge Edmund F. Brennan on 10/4/2017 GRANTING plaintiff's 2 request to proceed IFP and DISMISSING the complaint without prejudice to plaintiff's proper pursuit of habeas corpus relief in a new action. Plaintiff shall pay the $350.00 filing fee in accordance with the concurrent CDCR order. CASE CLOSED.(Yin, K)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 8 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 9 10 RUBEN SOLIZ, 11 Plaintiff, 12 13 14 No. 2:16-cv-1897-EFB P v. ORDER GRANTING IFP AND DISMISSING ACTION PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915A TEHAMA COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT, Defendant. 15 16 Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in an action brought under 42 U.S.C. 17 18 19 § 1983, has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.1 I. Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis Plaintiff’s application makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) and (2). 20 21 Accordingly, by separate order, the court directs the agency having custody of plaintiff to collect 22 and forward the appropriate monthly payments for the filing fee as set forth in 28 U.S.C. 23 § 1915(b)(1) and (2). 24 II. Screening Requirement and Standards 25 Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek 26 redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. 27 28 1 This proceeding was referred to this court by Local Rule 302 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and is before the undersigned pursuant to plaintiff’s consent. See E.D. Cal. Local Rules, Appx. A, at (k)(4). ECF No. 1 at 4. 1 1 § 1915A(a). The court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion 2 of the complaint, if the complaint “is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which 3 relief may be granted,” or “seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such 4 relief.” Id. § 1915A(b). 5 A pro se plaintiff, like other litigants, must satisfy the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a) 6 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(a)(2) “requires a complaint to include a short and 7 plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the 8 defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. 9 Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 554, 562-563 (2007) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). 10 While the complaint must comply with the “short and plaint statement” requirements of Rule 8, 11 its allegations must also include the specificity required by Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 12 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). 13 To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim a complaint must contain more than “naked 14 assertions,” “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of 15 action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-557. In other words, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of 16 a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 17 678. 18 Furthermore, a claim upon which the court can grant relief must have facial plausibility. 19 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual 20 content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the 21 misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. When considering whether a complaint states a 22 claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must accept the allegations as true, Erickson v. 23 Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007), and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the 24 plaintiff, see Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). 25 III. 26 Screening Order The court has reviewed plaintiff’s complaint (ECF No. 1) pursuant to § 1915A and finds it 27 must be dismissed for failure to state a claim. Plaintiff alleges that his public defender first 28 brought him an offer of 32 months in prison, with half time. Plaintiff rejected that offer and 2 1 subsequently accepted what he thought was an agreement to four years at half time. Plaintiff later 2 learned that the deal was four years at 85 percent, so he “pulled the deal.” ECF No. 1, § III. 3 Through this action, plaintiff requests that the court give him a sentence of four years with half 4 time. Id., § IV. It is unclear whether plaintiff is currently serving the challenged sentence. He 5 names the Tehama County Superior Court as defendant. 6 This action must be dismissed because this court cannot provide plaintiff with the relief he 7 seeks. As a matter of comity, federal courts may not enjoin pending state criminal proceedings 8 except under extraordinary circumstances. Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 49, 53 (1971). No 9 special circumstances are alleged in this case. If, on the other hand, plaintiff’s state criminal 10 proceedings have already concluded, plaintiff must direct his appeal from the judgment entered in 11 that action through the state appellate courts and ultimately the United States Supreme Court. 12 This court has no direct appeal jurisdiction to review or modify state court judgments. See 13 Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Company, 263 U.S. 413 (1923); District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. 14 Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482 (1983). “[L]ower federal courts do not have jurisdiction to review a 15 case litigated and decided in state court; only the United States Supreme Court has jurisdiction to 16 correct state court judgments.” Gottfried v. Medical Planning Services, 142 F.3d 326, 330 (6th 17 Cir.), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 1041, 119 S.Ct. 592 (1998); see also Bianchi v. Rylaarsdam, 334 18 F.3d 895, 901 (9th Cir. 2003) (“Stated plainly, Rooker—Feldman bars any suit that seeks to 19 disrupt or ‘undo’ a prior state-court judgment, regardless of whether the state-court proceeding 20 afforded the federal-court plaintiff a full and fair opportunity to litigate her claims.”). 21 Further, if plaintiff is attempting pursue a collateral challenge to his conviction and 22 sentence through a federal habeas petition he may not do so in the context of a section 1983 23 claim. As a general rule, a challenge in federal court to the fact of conviction or the length of 24 confinement must be raised in a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. 25 See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973). Where success in a section 1983 action would 26 implicitly question the validity of confinement or its duration, the plaintiff must first show that 27 the underlying conviction was reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared 28 invalid by a state tribunal, or questioned by the grant of a writ of habeas corpus. Heck v. 3 1 Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994); Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 751 (2004). Thus, 2 if plaintiff is challenging the length of a sentence already imposed by the Tehama County 3 Superior Court, his success in this action would necessarily call into question the validity of that 4 sentence. Accordingly, a writ of habeas corpus would be plaintiff’s sole remedy in federal court, 5 which he may pursue only after exhausting all of his constitutional claims in state court. 6 Lastly, plaintiff cannot state a claim against the “Tehama County Superior Court” because 7 it is not a “person” within the meaning of § 1983. In addition, arms of the state, such as the state 8 courts, are immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. Simmons v. Sacramento County 9 Superior Court, 318 F.3d 1156, 1161 (9th Cir. 2003). 10 For these reasons, plaintiff’s complaint must be dismissed without leave to amend. See 11 Gardner v. Martino, 563 F.3d 981, 990 (9th Cir. 2009); Silva v. Di Vittorio, 658 F.3d 1090, 1105 12 (9th Cir. 2011) (“Dismissal of a pro se complaint without leave to amend is proper only if it is 13 absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by amendment.” 14 (internal quotation marks omitted)); Doe v. United States, 58 F.3d 494, 497 (9th Cir. 1995) (“[A] 15 district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made, 16 unless it determines that the pleading could not be cured by the allegation of other facts.”). 17 Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: 18 1. Plaintiff’s request to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 2) is granted. 19 2. Plaintiff shall pay the statutory filing fee of $350. All payments shall be collected 20 in accordance with the notice to the California Department of Corrections and 21 Rehabilitation filed concurrently herewith. 22 23 24 3. The complaint is dismissed without prejudice to plaintiff’s proper pursuit of habeas corpus relief in a new action. Dated: October 4, 2017. 25 26 27 28 4

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