United States of America v. State of California et al

Filing 39

ORDER signed by District Judge John A. Mendez on 3/29/2018 DENYING 18 Motion to Transfer Case to the Northern District of California. (Donati, J)

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Case 2:18-cv-00490-JAM-KJN Document 39 Filed 03/29/18 Page 1 of 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 12 2:18-cv-490-JAM-KJN Plaintiff, 13 14 No. v. ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO TRANSFER THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, et al., 15 Defendants. 16 The United States filed this action on March 6, 2018, ECF 17 18 No. 1, and Defendants’ request to transfer the suit to the 19 Northern District of California (“NDCA”) quickly followed, ECF 20 No. 18. 1 21 a lawsuit concerning one arguably similar issue and similar 22 parties is already pending. 23 Judicial Notice (“RFJN”), ECF No. 19, Exh. A. 24 Defendants’ motion. 25 below, Defendants’ motion is DENIED. Defendants seek to litigate this case in the NDCA where Defendants’ First Request for ECF No. 25. Plaintiff opposes For the reasons set forth 26 27 1 28 This motion was determined to be suitable for decision without oral argument. E.D. Cal. L.R. 230(g). 1 Case 2:18-cv-00490-JAM-KJN Document 39 Filed 03/29/18 Page 2 of 10 1 I. OPINION 2 A. Legal Standard 3 For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the 4 interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil 5 action to any other district or division where it might have been 6 brought. 7 dispute that this action might have been brought in the NDCA. 8 The Court agrees: because the laws in question apply throughout 9 the state of California, this case might have been brought in any 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). The United States does not 10 of its districts. 11 be brought in . . . a judicial district in which a substantial 12 part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim 13 occurred[.]”). See 28. U.S.C. § 1391(b) (“A civil action may 14 The law governing transfer motions instructs district courts 15 to consider a number of factors related to both “convenience” and 16 the “interests of justice” in determining whether to transfer the 17 case. See Decker Coal Co. v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 805 F.2d 18 834, 843 (9th Cir. 1986). 19 20 21 22 23 These factors include: (1) the location where the relevant agreements were negotiated and executed, (2) the state that is most familiar with the governing law, (3) the plaintiff’s choice of forum, (4) the respective parties’ contacts with the forum, (5) the contacts relating to the plaintiff’s cause of action in the chosen forum, (6) the differences in the costs of litigation in the two forums, (7) the availability of compulsory process to compel attendance of unwilling non-party witnesses, and (8) the ease of access to sources of proof. 24 25 Jones v. GNC Franchising, Inc., 211 F.3d 495, 498–499 (9th Cir. 26 2000). 27 factors on an individualized, case-by-case basis. 28 Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22, 29 (1988). District courts have broad discretion to weigh these 2 Stewart Org., The pendency of an Case 2:18-cv-00490-JAM-KJN Document 39 Filed 03/29/18 Page 3 of 10 1 action in another district is an important consideration, as is 2 the feasibility of subsequent consolidation. 3 v. U.S. Dist. Ct. for C. D. of Cal., 503 F.2d 384, 389 (9th Cir. 4 1974); Am. Canine Found. v. Sun, No. CIV. S-06-654 LKK DAD, 2006 5 WL 2092614, at *3 (E.D. Cal. July 27, 2006). A. J. Indus., Inc. 6 B. 7 Because the weight of Defendants’ motion rests on the 8 “interests of justice,” the Court will address the factors 9 related to convenience only briefly. 2 10 Convenience to the Parties and Witnesses The convenience factors do not heavily favor or disfavor 11 transfer. 12 United States’ choice of forum and this choice weighs against 13 transfer. 14 entirety of the state, the evidence appears to be readily 15 accessible from either forum, and, should the case be 16 transferred, there will be little additional burden on the United 17 States’ witnesses and counsel in terms of travel and expense. 18 The fact that ICE’s San Francisco ERO Field Office is located in 19 the Northern District, see Homan Decl., ECF No. 2-2, ¶ 21, 20 counterbalances any weight this Court might afford to the EDCA’s 21 ties to the legislative process. 22 The Eastern District of California (“EDCA”) is the However, the challenged laws apply to and affect the In sum, the Court finds the convenience factors are not 23 24 25 26 27 28 2 Pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 201, the Court takes judicial notice of the court records attached to Defendants’ Requests for Judicial Notice, ECF Nos. 19-1, 30-1. See Harris v. Cty. of Orange, 682 F.3d 1126, 1132 (9th Cir. 2012). The Court also takes notice of the United States District Courts’ Judicial Caseload Profile data, the accuracy and authenticity of which Plaintiff does not dispute. See Daniels-Hall v. Nat’l Educ. Ass’n, 629 F.3d 992, 999 (9th Cir. 2010). 3 Case 2:18-cv-00490-JAM-KJN Document 39 Filed 03/29/18 Page 4 of 10 1 determinative and that the United States’ choice of forum tilts 2 the scale against transfer. 3 C. Interests of Justice 4 If the interests of justice favor transfer, the United 5 States’ choice may still be uprooted. See Am. Canine Found., 6 2006 WL 2092614, at *3 (“The interests of justice can be decisive 7 even if witness and party convenience weigh against transfer.”). 8 “To permit a situation in which two cases involving precisely the 9 same issues are simultaneously pending in different District 10 Courts leads to the wastefulness of time, energy and money that 11 [§] 1404(a) was designed to prevent.” 12 FBL-585, 364 U.S. 19, 26 (1960). 13 conducive to a race of diligence among litigants for a trial in 14 the District Court each prefers.” Cont’l Grain Co. v. The “Moreover, such a situation is Id. 15 This lawsuit and the pending NDCA case, State ex rel. 16 Becerra v. Sessions (“Becerra”), both involve the relationship 17 between the California Values Act (“SB 54”) and 8 U.S.C. § 1373 18 (“Section 1373”). 19 two cases are familiar to the parties; the Court will briefly 20 summarize the relevant portions of the two cases here: 21 The factual and procedural backgrounds of the In Becerra, California challenges a condition the United 22 States Department of Justice (USDOJ) placed on JAG awards 23 requiring recipient jurisdictions to comply with Section 1373. 24 RFJN, Exh. B, ¶ 5. 3 25 Community Oriented Policing Services (“COPS”) grant. 26 3 27 28 The same condition has been placed on the Id. The State also challenges two additional conditions placed on JAG recipients, one requiring notice of the scheduled release of certain individuals and one requiring access to local detention facilities (“notice and access conditions”). Id. at ¶ 6. 4 Case 2:18-cv-00490-JAM-KJN Document 39 Filed 03/29/18 Page 5 of 10 1 California is concerned it will be denied access to these grants 2 because the USDOJ will find that the TRUST Act (Cal. Gov. Code 3 § 7282 et seq.), the TRUTH Act (Cal. Gov. Code § 7283 et seq.), 4 SB 54 (Cal. Gov. Code § 7284 et seq. and other amendments), and 5 California’s Shield Confidentiality Statutes (Cal. Penal Code 6 §§ 422.93, 679.10, 679.11; Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 831; Cal. C. 7 Civ. P. § 155) violate Section 1373. 8 alleges the Section 1373 condition on the JAG awards violates the 9 Spending Clause and the Administrative Procedure Act. Id. at ¶ 10. California Id. at 10 ¶¶ 127–144. 11 and the other statutes comply with Section 1373 as properly 12 interpreted and construed. 13 California seeks a declaration that Section 1373 cannot be 14 constitutionally enforced against those acts under the Tenth 15 Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 16 California seeks a judicial declaration that SB 54 Id. at ¶ 152. Alternatively, Id. at ¶ 153. In this lawsuit, the United States challenges three recently 17 enacted state laws. Complaint, ECF No. 1. The first cause of 18 action challenges changes made to the California Government Code 19 and California Labor Code by Assembly Bill 450 (“AB 450”), the 20 Immigrant Worker Protection Act, which, inter alia, allegedly 21 restricts employer cooperation with immigration enforcement. 22 at ¶¶ 27–35, 61. 23 section of the California Government Code (Section 12532, added 24 by AB 103) that provides for state review of county, local, or 25 private locked detention facilities being used to house or detain 26 noncitizens for civil immigration proceedings in California. 27 at ¶¶ 36–49, 63. 28 claims that several subsections amended by SB 54 violate the Id. The second cause of action challenges a new Id. In its third cause of action, the United States 5 Case 2:18-cv-00490-JAM-KJN Document 39 Filed 03/29/18 Page 6 of 10 1 Supremacy Clause and Section 1373. 2 seeks a judgment declaring that each of these contested code 3 sections violate the Supremacy Clause—and are therefore invalid— 4 and a preliminary and permanent injunction that prohibits 5 California from enforcing these new laws. 6 for Relief). Id. at ¶¶ 50–59, 65. It Id. at 17–18 (Prayer 7 Becerra and the case at bar have obvious differences. 8 Becerra concerns USDOJ grant conditions that implicate the 9 Spending Clause and the APA, which are not at issue in this 10 litigation. 11 exceeded its authority or acted arbitrarily and capriciously in 12 imposing the Section 1373 condition on funding. 13 in that lawsuit are Attorney General Sessions, Acting Assistant 14 Attorney General Alan R. Hanson, and the United States Department 15 of Justice. 16 54, there are also distinct laws at issue in each case: Becerra 17 also concerns the TRUST Act, TRUTH Act, and California Shield 18 Confidentiality Statutes; this case concerns AB 450 (specifically 19 Cal. Gov. Code Sections 7285.1 and 7285.2, and Cal. Labor Code 20 Sections 90.2 and 1019.2) and AB 103 (Cal. Gov. Code 12532). 21 Additionally, the Becerra suit challenges notice and access 22 conditions placed on the JAG awards. That case may primarily turn on whether the USDOJ Plaintiff here is the United States. The defendants Apart from SB 23 There is one important similarity between the lawsuits. 24 Both lawsuits implicate the potential conflict between SB 54 and 25 Section 1373. 26 that SB 54 violates Section 1373, this Court will likely be 27 called upon to interpret that Section. 28 undoubtedly raise Tenth Amendment defenses in this litigation. Because the United States has taken the position 6 Defendants will Case 2:18-cv-00490-JAM-KJN Document 39 Filed 03/29/18 Page 7 of 10 1 See Mot. at 9 (“[T]his matter, at its core, involves the same 2 fundamental legal issue as [Becerra] v. Sessions: ‘the contours 3 of the State’s broad constitutional police powers under the Tenth 4 Amendment and the federal government’s broad, undoubted power 5 over the subject of immigration and the status of aliens.’”) 6 (quoting the Preliminary Injunction Order, RFJN, Exh. E). 7 despite the United States’ and its attorneys’ efforts to separate 8 the issues in Becerra from the Tenth Amendment, see Opp. at 11 9 (“These questions are entirely distinct from . . . the defenses And 10 that California might raise under the Tenth Amendment, which are 11 not implicated in Spending Clause cases.”); Pl. Exh. A, ECF No. 12 25-1, at 12 (“With respect to the 1373 provision, as a matter of 13 law the governing analysis here is the Spending Clause line of 14 cases; not the Tenth Amendment line of cases.”), Judge Orrick has 15 clearly homed in on the Tenth Amendment as a central issue in 16 that case, see State ex rel. Becerra v. Sessions, No. 17-cv- 17 04701-WHO, 2018 WL 1156774 (N.D. Cal. 2018) (Preliminary 18 Injunction Order). 19 resolved by challenges under the Spending Clause or the APA, the 20 declaratory relief claim related to the Section 1373 condition on 21 the COPS grant remains in play. 22 Orrick, at some point, may need to reach the more direct 23 challenges to an interpretation of Section 1373 that conflicts 24 with California law. 25 Order in Becerra certainly bears this out. 26 1156774, at *14–16. Furthermore, even if the JAG conditions are It appears likely that Judge The recently issued Preliminary Injunction See Becerra, 2018 WL 27 Although the cases have this one important issue in common, 28 the Court nevertheless finds that Defendants have not adequately 7 Case 2:18-cv-00490-JAM-KJN Document 39 Filed 03/29/18 Page 8 of 10 1 demonstrated that the interests of justice warrant transfer. 2 thrust of this lawsuit concerns the Supremacy Clause, which has 3 not arisen in the Becerra case. 4 conflict between SB 54 and Section 1373, the lawsuits present 5 distinct legal questions, statutes, and factual circumstances to 6 review and resolve. 7 on time, energy, and resources for the district courts and the 8 parties appears minimal. 9 challenges that accompany transfer would likely be more The Apart from the potential Given these differences, the actual savings The administrative and logistical 10 burdensome than any marginal gains in efficiency. 11 already devoted time and resources to this case, which would need 12 to be replicated in the NDCA following transfer. 13 feasibility of consolidation is not necessary to warrant 14 transfer, the Court notes that such post-transfer consolidation 15 could prove difficult given the distinct posture of each case. 16 This Court has Finally, while Defendants’ remaining concerns are also insufficient to 17 warrant transfer. 18 greater than that of the NDCA, both districts have figures that 19 exceed the national average. 4 20 to disposition do not significantly differ between the two 21 districts. 22 efficient courts in terminations of actions-923 cases per 23 judgeship. 24 EDCA in resolving lawsuits despite the obvious need for 25 4 26 27 28 Although the EDCA’s weighted caseload is And the median times from filing Moreover, the EDCA remains among the nation’s most Indeed, few districts can match the efficiency of the Nationally, the average number of weighted filings per judgeship is 489. The number in the Northern District is 556 and in the Eastern District is 764. See U.S. District Court – Judicial Caseload Profile, available at http://www.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/data_tables/fcms_na_d istprofile1231.2017.pdf. 8 Case 2:18-cv-00490-JAM-KJN Document 39 Filed 03/29/18 Page 9 of 10 1 2 additional judgeships. The Court is also not persuaded that the possibility of 3 inconsistent judgments warrants transfer. In the instant case, 4 the United States seeks, in part, a judicial declaration that 5 Sections 7284.6(a)(1)(C) & (D) and 7283.6(a)(4)—three subsections 6 amended by SB 54—of the California Government Code violate the 7 Supremacy Clause and seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction 8 prohibiting Defendants from enforcing these provisions. 9 Complaint at 17–18. In Becerra, California seeks a declaration 10 that SB 54 complies with Section 1373 and thus should not be a 11 basis for withholding and terminating federal funding. 12 Exh. B, at ¶ 152. 13 that Section 1373 cannot be constitutionally enforced against SB 14 54 under the Tenth Amendment, and should not be a basis for 15 withholding and terminating federal funding. 16 There is a possibility—though it depends upon contingencies in 17 each case—that this Court could reach a determination that 18 conflicts with Judge Orrick’s findings and conclusions in some 19 future motion. 20 see how such circumstances would impose conflicting obligations 21 on the State. 22 important one at that—but such a question may be appropriately 23 resolved by an appeal to the Ninth Circuit. 24 at the trial court level are sometimes a part of the judicial 25 process. This does not, however, justify concentrating multiple 26 cases of considerable magnitude and distinct legal issues before 27 one district judge with an already overloaded caseload. 28 RFJN, Alternatively, California seeks a declaration Id. at ¶ 153. But, given the relief sought, the Court does not It may result in a disputed legal question—and an Conflicting findings All of these factors require this Court to conclude that 9 Case 2:18-cv-00490-JAM-KJN Document 39 Filed 03/29/18 Page 10 of 10 1 Defendants have not shown the interests of justice overcome the 2 United States’ forum choice. 3 between the claims, parties, and subject matter of each case, the 4 Court further finds the “first-to-file” rule does not apply to 5 this action. 6 remain in the Eastern District of California. Due to the noted differences As a matter of law, this case should, and will, 7 8 9 10 11 12 II. ORDER For the reasons set forth above, the Court DENIES Defendants’ Motion to Transfer. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: March 29, 2018 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 10

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