Belyew v. Reilly

Filing 12

ORDER, FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS signed by Magistrate Judge Edmund F. Brennan on 9/7/2017 WITHDRAWING the 7/28/2017 7 findings and recommendations and GRANTING plaintiff's 8 application to proceed IFP. Plaintiff shall pay the $350. 00 filing fee in accordance with the concurrent order to the Sheriff of Butte County. IT IS RECOMMENDED this action be dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Referred to Judge John A. Mendez; Objections to F&R due within 14 days.(Yin, K)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 LISA BELYEW, 12 No. 2:17-cv-1153-JAM-EFB P Plaintiff, 13 v. 14 JAMES REILLY, 15 ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Defendant. 16 Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee proceeding without counsel in an action brought under 42 17 18 19 U.S.C. § 1983. She seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.1 I. Request for Leave 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 ///// 25 ///// 26 27 28 1 In light of this filing, the court withdraws the July 28, 2017 findings and recommendations, which recommended dismissal for plaintiff’s failure to pay the filing fee or seek leave to proceed in forma pauperis. 1 1 II. Screening Requirement and Standards 2 Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek 3 redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. 4 § 1915A(a). The court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion 5 of the complaint, if the complaint “is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which 6 relief may be granted,” or “seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such 7 relief.” Id. § 1915A(b). 8 9 A pro se plaintiff, like other litigants, must satisfy the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(a)(2) “requires a complaint to include a short and 10 plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the 11 defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. 12 Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 554, 562-563 (2007) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). 13 While the complaint must comply with the “short and plaint statement” requirements of Rule 8, 14 its allegations must also include the specificity required by Twombly and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 15 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). 16 To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim a complaint must contain more than “naked 17 assertions,” “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of 18 action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-557. In other words, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of 19 a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 20 678. 21 Furthermore, a claim upon which the court can grant relief must have facial plausibility. 22 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual 23 content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the 24 misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. When considering whether a complaint states a 25 claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must accept the allegations as true, Erickson v. 26 Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007), and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the 27 plaintiff, see Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). 28 ///// 2 1 2 III. Screening Order Plaintiff alleges that the defendant, a state court judge, is violating her rights in connection 3 with an ongoing criminal prosecution of plaintiff in Butte County.2 ECF No. 1 at 1, 3. This 4 action fails for this reason alone. Claims challenging aspects of the proceedings and rulings in 5 this ongoing case must be raised in those proceedings or on appeal afterwards. Under the 6 Younger Abstention Doctrine, this court must abstain from hearing plaintiff’s challenges to those 7 state court proceedings. See Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 45, 46 (1971). Younger requires a 8 district court to dismiss a federal action if the relevant state proceedings are: (1) ongoing, (2) 9 implicate important state interests, and (3) provide plaintiff an adequate opportunity to raise the 10 federal issue. Columbia Basin Apartment Ass'n v. City of Pasco, 268 F.3d 791, 799 (9th Cir. 11 2001). All of these elements appear satisfied here – the criminal proceedings are ongoing, 12 important state interests are implicated in the criminal prosecution, and there is no indication that 13 plaintiff could not raise her claims in that criminal case. Further, there is no allegation of 14 extraordinary circumstances which would warrant federal intervention. See Younger, 401 U.S. at 15 45 (federal courts may not intervene in state criminal actions “except under extraordinary 16 circumstances where the danger of irreparable loss is both great and immediate.”). 17 Plaintiff’s claims would fail even if not barred by Younger abstention. Plaintiff has sued 18 the state judge presiding over her criminal case. Plaintiff claims he is violating her constitutional 19 rights by denying her motions, appointing her counsel over her objections, and ordering 20 competency proceedings as a means of forcing upon her unwanted medical treatment and 21 retaliating against her. As relief, she seeks damages and/or the dismissal of the case against her 22 and to be released from custody. As a general rule, judicial immunity bars claims against a state 23 court judge for actions related to the judicial process. See In re Castillo, 297 F.3d 940, 947 (9th 24 Cir. 2002); Wolfe v. Strankman, 392 F.3d 358, 366 (9th Cir. 2004) (section 1983 “contemplates 25 judicial immunity from suit for injunctive relief for acts taken in a judicial capacity”); Schucker v. 26 Rockwood, 846 F.2d 1202, 1204 (9th Cir. 1988) (per curiam) (judges are also absolutely immune 27 28 2 Plaintiff has not provided a docket number, but the relevant case appears to be People v. Belyew, 16-CF-06270. 3 1 from damage actions for judicial acts taken within the jurisdiction of their courts). It is clear from 2 the complaint that plaintiff’s claims are also barred by judicial immunity. 3 Furthermore, the court finds that granting plaintiff leave to amend her complaint would be 4 futile. It is therefore recommend that it be dismissed with prejudice. See Hartmann v. CDCR, 5 707 F.3d 1114, 1130 (9th Cir. 2013) (“A district court may deny leave to amend when 6 amendment would be futile.”). 7 IV. 8 9 Order and Recommendation Accordingly, it is ORDERED that: 1. The July 28, 2017 findings and recommendations (ECF No. 7) are withdrawn. 10 2. Plaintiff’s application to proceed in forma pauperis (ECF No. 8) is granted. 11 3. Plaintiff shall pay the statutory filing fee of $350. All payments shall be collected 12 by the Sheriff of Butte County in accordance with the notice to be filed 13 concurrently herewith. 14 15 Additionally, it is RECOMMENDED that this action be dismissed with prejudice for failure to a claim upon which relief can be granted. 16 These findings and recommendations are submitted to the United States District Judge 17 assigned to the case, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(l). Within fourteen days 18 after being served with these findings and recommendations, any party may file written 19 objections with the court and serve a copy on all parties. Such a document should be captioned 20 “Objections to Magistrate Judge’s Findings and Recommendations.” Failure to file objections 21 within the specified time may waive the right to appeal the District Court’s order. Turner v. 22 Duncan, 158 F.3d 449, 455 (9th Cir. 1998); Martinez v. Ylst, 951 F.2d 1153 (9th Cir. 1991). 23 Dated: September 7, 2017. 24 25 26 27 28 4

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