James v. County of Alameda et al

Filing 6

ORDER DISMISSING CASE. Signed by Judge James Donato on 6/4/14. (lrcS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 6/5/2014) (Additional attachment(s) added on 6/5/2014: # 1 Certificate/Proof of Service) (lrcS, COURT STAFF).

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 CHRISTOPHER JAMES, Case No. 14-cv-01956-JD Plaintiff, 8 v. ORDER DISMISSING CASE 9 10 COUNTY OF ALAMEDA, et al., Defendants. United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 Plaintiff, a state prisoner, has filed a pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 13 14 He has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. DISCUSSION 15 16 I. STANDARD OF REVIEW 17 Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek 18 redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. 19 § 1915A(a). In its review, the Court must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims 20 which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek 21 monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. at 1915A(b)(1),(2). Pro se 22 pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep’t, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th 23 Cir. 1990). 24 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement of the 25 claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Although a complaint “does not need detailed 26 factual allegations, . . . a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the ‘grounds’ of his ‘entitle[ment] to 27 relief’ requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a 28 cause of action will not do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above 1 the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations 2 omitted). A complaint must proffer “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its 3 face.” Id. at 570. The United States Supreme Court has explained the “plausible on its face” 4 standard of Twombly: “While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they 5 must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court 6 should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement 7 to relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: 8 9 (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). 12 II. LEGAL CLAIMS 13 Plaintiff seeks money damages due to his imprisonment. 14 In order to recover damages for an allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, 15 or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence 16 invalid, a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed 17 on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to 18 make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas 19 corpus. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-487 (1994). 20 Plaintiff was convicted and sentenced in 1995 and is currently incarcerated at San Quentin 21 State Prison. Plaintiff states that he was recently reviewing documents related to his conviction 22 and noticed there were errors. Plaintiff has included the sentencing transcript and abstract of 23 judgment from 1995 that indicate he was sentenced to an indeterminate term of 26 years to life. 24 Plaintiff states that these documents are incorrect and he was sentenced to a determinate term of 25 26 years and he should be released based on his earned credits. In this civil rights action, plaintiff 26 seeks money damages from the court reporter and court clerks, who according to plaintiff, 27 deliberately and maliciously misstated his sentence. Plaintiff’s presents no evidence that his 28 sentence is incorrect other than his own statements. Nor has plaintiff shown that his conviction 2 1 has been reversed or expunged in order to obtain money damages. Court records indicate that 2 plaintiff filed a federal habeas petition that was dismissed on November 19, 2001. See James v. 3 Ramirez-Palmer, No. C 01-3893 CRB (PR). Plaintiff’s motion in the Ninth Circuit to file a 4 second or successive petition was denied on October 19, 2007. See James v. Sisto, No. C 07-3926 5 CRB (PR), Docket No. 7. Plaintiff’s claim is barred by Heck. “A pro se litigant must be given leave to amend his or her complaint unless it is ‘absolutely 7 clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by amendment.’” Karim–Panahi v. 8 Los Angeles Police Dept., 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988) (citations omitted). “Under Ninth 9 Circuit case law, district courts are only required to grant leave to amend if a complaint can 10 possibly be saved. Courts are not required to grant leave to amend if a complaint lacks merit 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 6 entirely.” Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1124 (9th Cir. 2000); see also, Smith v. Pacific 12 Properties and Development Corp., 358 F.3d 1097, 1106 (9th Cir. 2004), citing Doe v. United 13 States, 58 F.3d 494, 497 (9th Cir. 1995) (“a district court should grant leave to amend even if no 14 request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not be cured 15 by the allegation of other facts.”). This appears to be one of those relatively rare cases when to 16 grant plaintiff further leave to amend would be patently futile because plaintiff’s conviction has 17 not been reversed or expunged to allow a suit for money damages. This case is dismissed without 18 leave to amend. Should plaintiff’s conviction be reversed or expunged he may then file a 42 19 U.S.C. § 1983 action. CONCLUSION 20 1. The complaint is DISMISSED without leave to amend for the reasons set forth 23 2. The Clerk shall close this case. 24 IT IS SO ORDERED. 21 22 25 above. Dated: June 4, 2014 ______________________________________ JAMES DONATO United States District Judge 26 27 28 14-cv-01956-JD-_dis 3

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