Ward v. People of the State of Calfornia

Filing 8

ORDER OF DISMISSAL. Signed by Judge Jon S. Tigar on May 22, 2023. (mll, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 5/22/2023)Any non-CM/ECF Participants have been served by First Class Mail to the addresses of record listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 TREVILLION WARD, Plaintiff, 8 PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALFORNIA, 11 United States District Court Northern District of California ORDER OF DISMISSAL v. 9 10 Case No. 23-cv-01599-JST Defendant. 12 Plaintiff, an inmate at Valley State Prison, filed this pro se action, requesting that the Court 13 14 vacate a state court judgment. His complaint, ECF No. 1, is now before the Court for screening 15 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. He has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in a 16 separate order. DISCUSSION 17 18 A. Standard of Review 19 The Court screens complaints brought by persons proceeding in pro se and in forma 20 pauperis. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Plaintiff’s complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to 21 dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, 22 or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 23 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). Pro se pleadings must, however, be liberally construed. See United States v. 24 Qazi, 975 F.3d 989, 993 (9th Cir. 2020). 25 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement of the 26 claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). “Specific facts are not 27 necessary; the statement need only “‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the 28 grounds upon which it rests.’” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (citations omitted). United States District Court Northern District of California 1 While Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, it demands more than an unadorned, 2 the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677–78 (2009). 3 A pleading that offers only labels and conclusions, or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a 4 cause of action, or naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement does not suffice. Id. 5 B. Complaint 6 Plaintiff requests that this Court vacate the state courts’ decisions related to his 2010 7 sentence and related restitution order. In his initial motion to vacate (ECF No. 1), Plaintiff alleges 8 that his 2010 sentence is unlawful because the related restitution order failed to consider his ability 9 to pay, in violation of California law, the state and federal constitutional prohibition on cruel and 10 unusual punishment and excessive fines, and his state and federal constitutional rights to due 11 process. Plaintiff argues that the unlawfulness of the restitution order renders his entire sentence 12 invalid. Plaintiff also alleges that the state courts erred in denying or disregarding his motions 13 regarding the invalid restitution order, i.e., when they denied his motion for modification of the 14 restitution order, failed to respond to his appeal from the judgment, and denied his motion to recall 15 the remittitur. Plaintiff also alleges that the state courts made numerous errors, clerical and 16 otherwise, when denying or disregarding his motions. Plaintiff requests that this Court “vacate 17 [the] unlawful lower court judgment.” It is unclear which lower court judgment Plaintiff refers to: 18 his 2010 sentence and related restitution order; or the July 22, 2022 state court order denying the 19 motion for modification of the restitution order; or the December 9, 2022 California Court of 20 Appeal remittitur; or the February 6, 2023 California Court of Appeal denial of his motion to 21 recall the remittitur; or all of these orders. Plaintiff also requests that the Court quash the state 22 court’s remittitur and order the state appellate court to render a decision on his motion to appeal 23 from judgment. See generally ECF No. 1 at 1-6, 10-22. 24 Plaintiff has since filed a separate pleading, which he identifies as an amendment to the 25 motion to vacate. ECF No. 5. According to the body of ECF No. 5, Plaintiff seeks to have ECF 26 No. 1 and ECF No. 5 considered together, as he incorporates ECF No. 1 into ECF No. 5 by 27 reference. Plaintiff may not amend a pleading piecemeal. An amended pleading completely 28 replaces prior pleadings, and renders the prior pleading without legal effect. See, e.g., Lacey v. 2 United States District Court Northern District of California 1 Maricopa Cnty., 693 F.3d 896, 925 (9th Cir. 2012). ECF No. 5 therefore replaces ECF No. 1 and 2 waives all claims made in ECF No. 1 that were not repeated in ECF No. 5, which does not appear 3 to be Plaintiff’s intention. Also, ECF No. 5 fails to comply with N.D. Cal. L.R. 10-1 which 4 requires a party seeking to file an amended pleading to “reproduce the entire proposed pleading 5 [without] incorporat[ing] any part of a prior pleading by reference.” N.D. Cal. L.R. 10-1. Finally, 6 to the extent that Plaintiff seeks to file an amended complaint or motion, the Court notes that 7 amendment would be futile because, as explained in detail below, this action is barred by the 8 Rooker-Feldman doctrine. The proposed amendments—details regarding an allegedly fraudulent 9 appeal transcript and attorney Soglin’s alleged but false representation of Plaintiff’s appeal—do 10 not rectify the deficiencies identified below. See Waldrip v. Hall, 548 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 11 2008) (in reviewing whether denial or grant of leave to amend was abuse of discretion, appellate 12 court “‘often consider[s] . . . bad faith, undue delay, prejudice to the opposing party, futility of the 13 amendment, and whether the party has previously amended his pleadings.’” (quoting Bonin v. 14 Calderon, 59 F.3d 815, 845 (9th Cir. 1995)). 15 This action is a de facto appeal of a state court decision and therefore barred by the 16 Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, “a state-court decision is not 17 reviewable by lower federal courts.” Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521, 532 (2011). This doctrine 18 bars a federal district court from exercising subject matter jurisdiction “not only over an action 19 explicitly styled as a direct appeal, but also over the ‘de facto equivalent’ of such an appeal.” 20 Morrison v. Peterson, 809 F.3d 1059, 1069–70 (9th Cir. 2015) (quoting Cooper v. Ramos, 704 21 F.3d 772, 777 (9th Cir. 2012)). A “forbidden de facto appeal under Rooker-Feldman” arises 22 “when the plaintiff in federal district court complains of a legal wrong allegedly committed by the 23 state court, and seeks relief from the judgment of that court.” Noel v. Hall, 341 F.3d 1148, 1163 24 (9th Cir. 2003). Here, Plaintiff is arguing that the California state courts erred in denying or 25 disregarding his motions regarding the invalid restitution order (the motion for modification of the 26 restitution order, the appeal from the judgment, and the motion to recall the remittitur). In other 27 words, this action is a de facto appeal of the state courts’ decisions. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine 28 requires the Court to abstain from considering Plaintiff’s de facto appeals from the state court’s 3 1 orders. Accordingly, this action is DISMISSED with prejudice pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman 2 doctrine. CONCLUSION 3 4 For the foregoing reason, the Court DISMISSES this action with prejudice pursuant to the 5 Rooker-Feldman doctrine. The Clerk shall enter judgment in favor of Defendant and against 6 Plaintiff, and close the case. 7 8 9 10 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: May 22, 2023 ______________________________________ JON S. TIGAR United States District Judge 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 4

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