Ratliff v. Voong et al

Filing 7

ORDER DISMISSING CASE. Signed by Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero on 4/7/16. (klhS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 4/7/2016)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 8 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 9 DEVERON RATLIFF, 10 Plaintiff, Case No. 15-cv-05625-JCS (PR) 11 United States District Court Northern District of California v. ORDER OF DISMISSAL 12 M. VOONG, et al., 13 Defendants. 14 15 INTRODUCTION 16 Plaintiff, a California state prisoner proceeding pro se, has filed this federal civil 17 18 rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in which he raises claims against the California 19 Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) for altering and refusing to 20 correct an incorrect record of his crimes. After reviewing his allegations pursuant to 21 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), the Court DISMISSES the complaint.1 DISCUSSION 22 23 A. Standard of Review 24 In its initial review of this pro se complaint, this Court must dismiss any claim that 25 is frivolous or malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks 26 1 27 28 Plaintiff consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction. (Compl. at 4.) The magistrate judge, then, has jurisdiction to issue this order, even though defendants have not been served or consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction. See Neals v. Norwood, 59 F.3d 530, 532 (5th Cir. 1995). 1 monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. 2 § 1915(e). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police 3 Dep’t, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). A “complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a 4 5 claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 6 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has 7 facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the 8 reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (quoting 9 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Furthermore, a court “is not required to accept legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations if those conclusions cannot reasonably 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 be drawn from the facts alleged.” Clegg v. Cult Awareness Network, 18 F.3d 752, 754–55 12 (9th Cir. 1994). To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential 13 14 elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was 15 violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the 16 color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988). 17 B. 18 Legal Claims Plaintiff alleges his CDCR fingerprint card incorrectly states he was convicted in 19 state court of conspiracy to commit second degree robbery (Cal. Penal Code § 212.5). 20 (Compl. at 6; Ex. 1.) He was, he claims, convicted only of conspiracy to commit a crime 21 (id. § 182(a)) after he pleaded guilty to such a charge in exchange for having the robbery 22 charges dismissed. (Compl. at 3-4.) This record of a nonexistent conviction was used to 23 enhance a subsequent sentence when a state superior court read the fingerprint card, which 24 was part of the record submitted to the court for sentencing. (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff filed 25 formal grievances to have the card corrected, but his requests were denied. (Id. at 7-8.) 26 Plaintiff has not stated a claim that his substantive due process rights were violated. 27 The inaccuracy of records compiled or maintained by the government is not, standing 28 alone, sufficient to state a claim of constitutional injury under the Due Process Clause. See 2 1 Paul v. Davis, 424 U.S. 693, 711-714 (1976); Reyes v. Supervisor of DEA, et al., 834 F.2d 2 1093, 1097 (1st Cir. 1987) (no due process claim for false information maintained by 3 police department); Pruett v. Levi, 622 F.2d 256, 258 (6th Cir. 1980) (mere existence of 4 inaccuracy in FBI criminals files does not state constitutional claim). 5 Plaintiff also has not stated a claim that his procedural due process rights were violated. Because California has created regulations from which a protected interest in 7 accurate criminal records could arise, a court must ask (1) whether the regulations creating 8 the right to accurate criminal records narrowly restrict the power of prison officials to 9 impose a deprivation of accurate records, and (2) whether the deprivation suffered due to 10 the denial of accurate records is one of “real substance.” Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 6 477-87 (1995). 12 An inmate questioning the accuracy of any material contained in a record of his 13 criminal history must file a written request with the agency holding the record. See Cal. 14 Penal Code § 13324(a). After a formal request and denial by the agency, the inmate must 15 refer the matter to administrative adjudication in accord with the rules of the local 16 governing body. See Cal. Penal Code § 13324(c). These regulations do not contain 17 substantive predicates or mandatory language requiring any specific outcome when a 18 determination on a request to amend information in a person’s criminal record is made. 19 The regulations state no criteria, for example, which must be found before a request will be 20 granted or denied. A provision that merely provides procedural requirements, even if 21 mandatory, cannot provide the basis for a constitutionally protected liberty interest. See 22 Kentucky Dep’t of Corrections v. Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 461-62 (1989); Smith v. 23 Noonan, 992 F.2d 987, 989 (9th Cir. 1993). Because the statutory language does not meet 24 the first prong of the Sandin test, no protected liberty interest requiring constitutional 25 protection is created. 26 27 Because there is no substantive or procedural due process right to have correctly maintained records, plaintiff’s section 1983 claims necessarily fail. 28 3 1 Also, the fingerpr card is not inaccura As stat in the C rint n ate. ted CDCR respo onse to 2 pla aintiff’s grie evance, the “entry of PC 212.5(B) Robbery 2 on the F P ) 2nd Fingerprint Card is t 3 app propriate.” (Compl., Ex. 3.) It is appropriat because p E te plaintiff was convicted of d 4 con nspiracy to commit a felony (Cal. Penal Cod § 182(a)) which wa in this case, robbery. f . de ), as 5 Wh persons conspire to commit a felony, “th shall be punishable in the sam manner hen s t hey e e me 6 and to the sam extent as is provided for the pu d me s unishment o that felon of ny.” Cal. P Penal Code 7 § 182(a). In conformity with this, th superior court impo 1 c he osed a sente ence of 2 ye ears, 8 (Compl., Ex. 2 at 5-6), which was th lower ter for a rob w he rm bbery convi iction, (Cal. Penal 9 Co § 213(a) ode )(2); id., Ex 4). x. 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Theref fore, even if plaintiff ha a due pro f ad ocess right in having c correct reco ords, his cla would fail on the merits. This federal civ rights ac aim f m s vil ction is DIS SMISSED. CONCLU USION 12 13 The co omplaint is DISMISSE The Cle shall en judgme in favor of D ED. erk nter ent 14 def fendants, an close the file. nd e 15 IT IS SO ORDER S RED. 16 Da ated: April 7, 2016 l ________ __________ _________ _ JOSEPH C. SPERO O agistrate Jud dge Chief Ma 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4 1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES D D DISTRICT C COURT 5 NORTHER DISTRIC OF CALI RN CT IFORNIA 6 7 DEVERON RATLIFF, D R Case No. 1 15-cv-05625 5-JCS Plaintiff, 8 v. CERTIFIC CATE OF S SERVICE 9 10 M. VOONG, et al., M s. Defendants United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 I, the un ndersigned, hereby certify that I am an employe in the Offi of the Clerk, U.S. ee ice Dis strict Court, Northern Di istrict of Cal lifornia. n ED nd opy(ies) of th attached, by placing he That on April 7, 2016, I SERVE a true an correct co said copy(ies) in a postage paid envelo addressed to the pers i ope d son(s) herein nafter listed, by dep positing said envelope in the U.S. Mail, or by pla d n M acing said co opy(ies) into an inter-off delivery o ffice y rec ceptacle loca in the Cl ated lerk's office. . 16 17 18 De everon Ratliff ID: P-175 543 Correctional Tr raining Facility P.O Box 689 ZW-312 O. Sol ledad, CA 93960 19 20 21 Da ated: April 7, 2016 , 22 23 usan Y. Soon ng Su Cl lerk, United States Distr Court d rict 24 25 26 By y:_________ ___________ _______ K Karen Hom, D Deputy Clerk to the k H Honorable JO OSEPH C. SP PERO 27 28 5

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