Singleton v. Kernan

Filing 6

ORDER OF DISMISSAL. Signed by Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte on 3/29/2017. (Attachments: # 1 Certificate/Proof of Service)(afmS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 3/29/2017)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 8 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 9 10 KELVIN X. SINGLETON, United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Case No. 17-cv-00468 EDL (PR) Petitioner, 12 v. 13 ORDER OF DISMISSAL SCOTT KERNAN, 14 Respondent. 15 Petitioner, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a federal petition for writ of habeas 16 17 18 corpus. 1 Petitioner has paid the $5.00 filing fee. For the reasons that follow, the court DISMISSES the petition. DISCUSSION 19 20 A. This court may entertain a petition for a writ of habeas corpus “in behalf of a person in 21 22 23 24 custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a); Rose v. Hodges, 423 U.S. 19, 21 (1975). A district court shall “award the writ or issue an order directing the respondent to show 25 26 Standard of Review cause why the writ should not be granted, unless it appears from the application that the applicant 27 1 28 Petitioner has consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction. Dkt. No. 5. Case No. 17-cv-00468 EDL (PR) ORDER OF DISMISSAL 1 1 2 or person detained is not entitled thereto.” 28 U.S.C. § 2243. Summary dismissal is appropriate 3 only where the allegations in the petition are vague or conclusory, palpably incredible, or patently 4 frivolous or false. See Hendricks v. Vasquez, 908 F.2d 490, 491 (9th Cir. 1990) (quoting 5 Blackledge v. Allison, 431 U.S. 63, 75-76 (1977)). 6 B. Petitioner’s Claims 7 In the petition, Petitioner states that he is a member of the Plata v. Brown, No. C 01-1351 8 THE (N.D. Cal.), class action. He alleges that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, on June 6, 9 2014, affirmed in part and reversed in part his civil rights case alleging deliberate indifference to 10 his serious medical needs. See Singleton v. Lopez, No. 12-16036, 577 Fed. Appx. 733 (9th Cir. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California June 6, 2014). He argues that despite this favorable ruling from the Ninth Circuit, he continues to 12 suffer from deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs and requests immediate release. 2 13 Petitioner is subject to mandatory urinalysis tests and “abusive unclothed body searches” which 14 began when Petitioner was housed at CSP – RJ Donovan. In a separate civil rights suit, filed in 15 the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, Petitioner alleged that 16 prison officials at CSP – RJ Donovan conspired against him by lying or tampering with his urine 17 samples, and did so in retaliation for a complaint filed against them in state court. In the 18 underlying petition, Petitioner claims that prison officials at CSP – Sacramento have continued the 19 mandatory urinalysis tests, and have a policy of allowing the tests to be conducted by officers who 20 are not certified to do so, and specifically alleges that prison staff refuse to use a “low dose x-ray” 21 on Petitioner which places Petitioner’s mental and physical health in jeopardy. 22 The petition does not challenge either Petitioner’s conviction or the length of his sentence. 23 Thus, success in this action would not necessarily result in his release or any change in his 24 25 2 26 27 28 The Court notes that in Petitioner’s civil rights case, upon remand, Petitioner entered into a settlement agreement, and voluntarily dismissed the case with prejudice. See Singleton v. Hedgpeth, Case No. 08-cv-00095 EPG (E.D. Cal. Jun 2, 2016), dkt. no. 277. On November 1, 2016, the Defendants in that case filed a status report indicating that payment to Petitioner, pursuant to the settlement agreement, had been paid in full. Case No. 17-cv-00468 EDL (PR) ORDER OF DISMISSAL 2 1 2 sentence. Where, as here, a successful challenge to a prison condition or to action by an outside 3 party will not necessarily shorten the prisoner’s sentence, a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. 4 § 1983 is proper and habeas jurisdiction is absent. See Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 859 (9th 5 Cir. 2003); see also Badea v. Cox, 931 F.2d 573, 574 (9th Cir. 1991) (civil rights action is the 6 proper method of challenging conditions of confinement). 7 Although a district court may construe a habeas petition by a prisoner attacking the 8 conditions of his confinement or some other condition that he contends violates his constitutional 9 rights as pleading civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, see Wilwording v. Swenson, 404 10 U.S. 249, 251 (1971), the Court declines to do so here. The difficulty with construing a habeas 11 United States District Court Northern District of California petition as a civil rights complaint is that the two forms used by most prisoners request different 12 information and much of the information necessary for a civil rights complaint is not included in 13 the habeas petition filed here. Examples of the potential problems created by using the habeas 14 petition form rather than the civil rights complaint form include the potential omission of intended 15 defendants, potential failure to link each defendant to the claims, and potential absence of an 16 adequate prayer for relief. Additionally, there is doubt whether the prisoner is willing to pay the 17 civil action filing fee of $400.00 rather than the $5.00 habeas filing fee to pursue his claims. The 18 habeas versus civil rights distinction is not just a matter of using different pleading forms. It is not 19 in the interest of judicial economy to allow prisoners to file civil rights actions on habeas forms 20 because virtually every such case, including this one, will be defective at the outset and require 21 additional court resources to deal with the problems created by the different filing fees and the 22 absence of information on the habeas form. 23 Petitioner is advised that his claims should be brought, if at all, in a federal civil rights 24 action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 25 Should Petitioner filed a civil rights complaint, he is advised that venue generally is proper 26 in a judicial district in which: (1) any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the state 27 28 in which the district is located; (2) a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the Case No. 17-cv-00468 EDL (PR) ORDER OF DISMISSAL 3 1 2 claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated; or (3) 3 any defendant is subject to the court’s personal jurisdiction, if there is no district in which the 4 action may otherwise be brought. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). It appears that Petitioner’s allegations 5 arose out of events occurring at CSP-Sacramento, where Petitioner is currently housed. 6 Sacramento County is within the venue of the United States District Court for the Eastern District 7 of California. 8 CONCLUSION 9 For the foregoing reasons, this petition is DISMISSED without prejudice. The Clerk shall 10 terminate all pending motions and close the file. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California The federal rules governing habeas cases brought by state prisoners require a district court 12 that denies a habeas petition to grant or deny a certificate of appealability (“COA”) in its ruling. 13 See Rule 11(a), Rules Governing § 2254 Cases, 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254. Petitioner has not shown 14 that “jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the petition states a valid claim of the denial 15 of a constitutional right and that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the district court 16 was correct in its procedural [rulings].” Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000); 28 U.S.C. § 17 2253(c). Accordingly, a COA is DENIED. 18 IT IS SO ORDERED. 19 20 DATED: March 29, 2017 ELIZABETH D. LAPORTE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Case No. 17-cv-00468 EDL (PR) ORDER OF DISMISSAL 4

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