Love v. Salinas Valley State Prison

Filing 22

ORDER by Judge James Donato granting 17 Motion to Dismiss. (lrcS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 6/1/2017)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 KENNARD ISAIAH LOVE, Plaintiff, 8 9 ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS v. 10 SALINAS VALLEY STATE PRISON, et al., 11 United States District Court Northern District of California Case No. 16-cv-01981-JD Re: Dkt. No. 17 Defendants. 12 13 Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, proceeds with a civil rights action under 42 14 U.S.C. § 1983. On November 15, 2016, defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a 15 claim. Plaintiff was repeatedly informed that he needed to file an opposition but only a filed a few 16 sentence response. The Court has still looked to the merits and the motion is granted. 17 18 19 20 BACKGROUND This case proceeds pursuant to the amended complaint with respect to plaintiff’s claim that he was improperly classified as a sex offender. He states that an “R” suffix, which denotes an underlying sex related offense, was improperly added to his custody designation. Plaintiff‘s 21 commitment offense involved an incident where he was an accomplice while another defendant 22 forced the victim to perform sex acts and the other defendant assaulted her. Plaintiff pled guilty to 23 the assault, but the sex-related charges were dismissed. At a Unit Classification Committee 24 25 (“UCC”) hearing, the UCC noted that plaintiff had not participated in the sexual acts of the commitment offense, but the UCC added the “R” suffix because plaintiff had an opportunity to 26 intercede in the sexual assault but did not. 27 28 1 2 LEGAL STANDARD 3 A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests for the legal 4 sufficiency of the claims alleged in the complaint. Ileto v. Glock, Inc., 349 F.3d 1191, 1199-1200 5 (9th Cir. 2003). All allegations of material fact are taken as true. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 6 89, 94 (2007). However, legally conclusory statements, not supported by actual factual 7 allegations, need not be accepted. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009) (courts are 8 not bound to accept as true “a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation”). “A plaintiff’s 9 obligation to provide the grounds of his entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and 10 conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell 11 United States District Court Northern District of California Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (alteration in original) (internal quotation 12 13 marks omitted). Rather, the allegations in the complaint “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. 14 A motion to dismiss should be granted if the complaint does not proffer enough facts to 15 state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. See id. at 558-59, 574. “[W]here the well- 16 pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the 17 complaint has alleged- but it has not ‘show[n]’- ‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.’” Iqbal, 556 18 U.S. at 679 (citation omitted). 19 Review is limited to the contents of the complaint, see Clegg v. Cult Awareness Network, 20 18 F.3d 752, 754-55 (9th Cir. 1994), including documents physically attached to the complaint or 21 documents the complaint necessarily relies on and whose authenticity is not contested. See Lee v. 22 County of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001). In addition, the court may take judicial 23 notice of facts that are not subject to reasonable dispute. See id. at 688 (discussing Fed. R. Evid. 24 201(b)). 25 The Due Process Clause protects against the deprivation of liberty without due process of 26 law. Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 221 (2005). In order to invoke the protection of the Due 27 Process Clause, a plaintiff must first establish the existence of a liberty interest for which the 28 2 1 protection is sought. Id. Liberty interests may arise from the Due Process Clause itself, or from 2 an expectation or interest created by prison regulations. Id. The Due Process Clause itself does 3 not confer on inmates a liberty interest in avoiding “more adverse conditions of confinement.” Id. 4 The existence of a liberty interest created by prison regulations is determined by focusing on the 5 nature of the deprivation. Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 481-84 (1995). Such liberty interests 6 are “generally limited to freedom from restraint which . . . imposes atypical and significant 7 hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life.” Id. at 484 (interal 8 citations omitted); Myron v. Terhune, 476 F.3d 716, 718 (9th Cir. 2007). 9 Changes in conditions relating to classification and reclassification do not implicate the Due Process Clause itself. See Hernandez v. Johnston, 833 F.2d 1316, 1318 (9th Cir. 1987) 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 (citing Moody v. Daggett, 429 U.S. 78, 88 n.9 (1976)) (no constitutional right to particular 12 classification). Yet, the classification of an inmate as a sex offender may be the type of atypical 13 and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life that the 14 Supreme Court held created a protected liberty interest in Sandin. See Neal v. Shimoda, 131 F.3d 15 818, 827-30 (9th Cir. 1997). While such a liberty interest is not created merely by the requirement 16 that sex offenders participate in a specified treatment program, see id. at 830, in Neal the Ninth 17 Circuit found that “the stigmatizing consequences of the attachment of the ‘sex offender’ label 18 coupled with the subjection of the targeted inmate to a mandatory treatment program whose 19 successful completion is a precondition for parole eligibility create the kind of deprivations of 20 liberty that require procedural protections,” id. Under these circumstances, inmates are entitled to 21 procedural due process before being classified as sex offenders. See id. at 830-31 (inmates 22 entitled to procedural protections of Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974), including notice of 23 reasons for classification as sex offender and a hearing at which the inmate may call witnesses and 24 present documentary evidence in his defense). 25 DISCUSSION 26 In the amended complaint plaintiff argues that he has suffered an atypical and significant 27 hardship with respect to the sex offender classification. He argues that he was not allowed 28 3 1 overnight visits to consummate his marriage and his ability to acquire his bachelor degree was 2 disrupted. Yet, prisoners have no constitutional right to contact or conjugal visitation. See 3 Barnett v. Centoni, 31 F.3d 813, 817 (9th Cir. 1994); Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 4 1113-14 (9th Cir. 1986). Nor is California’s regulatory language regarding such visits sufficiently 5 mandatory to meet the standard set forth above in Sandin. See Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3174(e) 6 (any contact or conjugal visit is a “privilege,” not a right). Nor do prisoners have a liberty interest 7 in prison education. Hernandez v. Johnston, 833 F.2d 1316, 1319 (9th Cir. 1987); see also Rizzo 8 v. Dawson, 778 F.2d 527, 530 (9th Cir. 1985) (Due Process clause does not create property 9 interest in vocational instruction courses). 10 While the Ninth Circuit found in Neal that the stigmatizing consequences of the sex United States District Court Northern District of California 11 offender label combined with mandatory treatment programs could affect parole eligibility and, 12 therefore, prisoners are entitled to procedural due process protections, none of those factors are 13 present in this case. Plaintiff’s allegations regarding conjugal visits and disruptions to his 14 education do not demonstrate atypical and significant hardships or any other liberty interest. To 15 the extent that plaintiff argues defendants violated prison regulations, this fails to state a claim for 16 a federal constitutional violation. Moreover, as there was no liberty interest at issue, the Court 17 need not address the procedural protections that were allegedly denied at the UCC hearing. 18 Defendants’ motion to dismiss is granted because plaintiff has failed to allege a violation 19 of the Due Process Clause itself, or from an interest created by the prison regulations. Because 20 plaintiff has already been granted leave to amend and because he failed to file a formal opposition 21 to the motion to dismiss, the complaint is dismissed with prejudice. 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4 1 CONCLUSION 2 The motion to dismiss (Docket No. 17) is GRANTED and this action is dismissed. The 3 4 5 Clerk shall close this case. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: June 1, 2017 6 7 JAMES DONATO United States District Judge 8 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5 1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 2 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 3 4 KENNARD ISAIAH LOVE, Case No. 16-cv-01981-JD Plaintiff, 5 v. CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE 6 7 SALINAS VALLEY STATE PRISON, et al., 8 Defendants. 9 10 I, the undersigned, hereby certify that I am an employee in the Office of the Clerk, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 That on June 1, 2017, I SERVED a true and correct copy(ies) of the attached, by placing said copy(ies) in a postage paid envelope addressed to the person(s) hereinafter listed, by depositing said envelope in the U.S. Mail, or by placing said copy(ies) into an inter-office delivery receptacle located in the Clerk's office. 16 17 18 Kennard Isaiah Love ID: AA-7389 California Men's Colony State Prison P.O. Box 8101 San Luis Obispo, CA 93409 19 20 21 Dated: June 1, 2017 22 23 Susan Y. Soong Clerk, United States District Court 24 25 26 27 By:________________________ LISA R. CLARK, Deputy Clerk to the Honorable JAMES DONATO 28 6

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