United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT
WITH LEAVE TO AMEND
SUZANNE H. SEGAL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
April 19, 2017, Norris Dajon Miller ("Plaintiff"),
a California state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed
a civil rights complaint pursuant 42 U.S.C. § 1983
("Complaint"). Plaintiff summarily alleges that
Deputy District Attorney George Morris is liable for
malicious prosecution and false imprisonment in violation of
his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Id. at
6) (continuous pagination).
mandates that district courts perform an initial screening of
complaints in civil actions where a prisoner seeks redress
from a governmental entity or employee. 28 U.S.C. §
1915A(a) . This Court may dismiss such a complaint, or any
portion thereof, before service of process if the complaint
(1) is frivolous or malicious, (2) fails to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted, or (3) seeks monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b) (1-2); see also Lopez v.
Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 & n.7 (9th Cir. 2000)
(en banc). For the reasons stated below, the Complaint is
DISMISSED with leave to amend.
ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT
only Defendant sued in this matter is Deputy District
Attorney Morris. (Complaint at 4) . Morris is sued in his
individual capacity only. (Id. at 3).
states that in an underlying state criminal matter,
he was assaulted by a man named Thomas Brown and
"was put in jail for it" on February 10, 2016, even
though Plaintiff was acting in self-defense. (Id. at
4). Morris "falsely accused" Plaintiff of a crime
(or crimes) he did not commit, which Plaintiff does not
specifically identify. (Id.). On June 20, 2016,
Morris dismissed the charge(s) against Plaintiff.
(Id.). Plaintiff states that he was "falsely
imprisoned" for four months and ten days as a result of
those charges, i.e., from the day he was arrested to
the day the charges were dismissed. (Id.) .
Plaintiff seeks $63, 000, 000 in monetary damages for
"emotional stress, heartache, [and] pain and suffering,
" as well as "false
imprisonment." (Id. at 5).
28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), the Court must dismiss the
Complaint due to pleading defects. However, the Court must
grant a pro se litigant leave to amend his defective
complaint unless "it is absolutely clear that the
deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by
amendment." Akhtar v. Mesa, 698 F.3d 1202, 1212
(9th Cir. 2012) (citation and internal quotation marks
omitted). For the reasons discussed below, it is not
"absolutely clear" that at least some of the
defects of Plaintiff's Complaint could not be cured by
amendment. The Complaint is therefore DISMISSED with leave to
The Complaint Fails To State A Claim For Malicious
of malicious prosecution is generally not cognizable under
section 1983 if process is available within the state
judicial system to provide a remedy. Lacey v. Maricopa
Cnty., 693 F.3d 896, 919 (9th Cir. 2012). California law
recognizes the common law tort of malicious prosecution,
although such claims are "disfavored." Zamos v.
Stroud, 32 Cal.4th 958, 966 (2004) . To state a claim
for malicious prosecution under California law, "a
plaintiff must demonstrate that the prior action (1) was
initiated by or at the direction of the defendant and legally
terminated in the plaintiff's favor, (2) was brought
without probable cause, and (3) was initiated with
malice." Seibel v. Mittlesteadt, 41 Cal.4th
735, 740 (2007) . Malicious prosecution is also actionable
under state law where the defendant "continu[es] to
prosecute a lawsuit discovered to lack probable cause."
Zamos, 32 Cal.4th at 970.
the Ninth Circuit has determined that a civil rights
plaintiff may bring a federal claim for malicious prosecution
under section 1983 when certain conditions are met. To state
a federal claim for malicious prosecution, a plaintiff must
establish not only that a claim, brought without probable
cause and initiated with malice, terminated in
plaintiff's favor, but also that the prosecution was
conducted "for the purpose of denying [the accused]
equal protection or another specific constitutional
right.'" Lacey, 693 F.3d at 919 (quoting
Freeman v. City of Santa Ana, 68 F.3d 1180, 1189
(9th Cir. 1995)). Malicious prosecution actions "are not
limited to suits against prosecutors but may [also] be
brought . . . against other persons who have wrongfully
caused the charges to be filed." Awabdy v. City of
Adelanto, 368 F.3d 1062, 1066 (9th Cir. 2004).
not every action taken by a prosecutor in an abandoned or
unsuccessful prosecution will subject the prosecutor to suit,
even when the act is "malicious or dishonest."
Genzler v. Longanbach, 410 F.3d 630, 637 (9th Cir.
2005). The doctrine of "[p]rosecutorial immunity applies
to § 1983 claims." Garmon v. Cnty. of Los
Angeles, 828 F.3d 837, 842 (9th Cir. 2016) . Pursuant to
that doctrine, "[s]tate prosecutors are absolutely
immune from § 1983 actions when performing functions
'intimately associated with the judicial phase of the
criminal process, ' [Imbler v. Pachtman, 424
U.S. 409, 430 (1976)], or, phrased differently, 'when
performing the traditional functions of an
advocate.'" Gannon, 828 F.3d at 843 (quoting
Kalina v. Fletcher, 522 U.S. 118, 131 (1997)).
a prosecutor is absolutely immune from suit for
"'initiating a prosecution' and 'presenting
a state's case, ' and during 'professional
evaluation of the evidence assembled by the police and
appropriate preparation for its presentation at trial . . .
after a decision to seek an indictment has been
made.'" Garmon, 828 F.3d at 843 (quoting
Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 273 (1993));
see also Milstein v. Cooley, 257 F.3d 1004, 1012
(9th Cir. 2001) ("Initiating a prosecution has
consistently been identified as a function within a
prosecutor's role as an advocate."); Mishler v.
Clift, 191 F.3d 998, 1008 (9th Cir. 1999) ("Filing
charges and initiating prosecution are functions that are
integral to a prosecutor's work."). A prosecutor is
also protected by absolute immunity in the "preparation
of an arrest warrant, " during "appearances before
a grand jury, " "in a probable cause ...