United States District Court, N.D. California
January 16, 2004.
KEVIN ANDREWS, Plaintiff,
SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, COUNTY OF ALAMEDA, CITY OF HAYWARD; JUDGE KURTZ; JUDGE NAKAHARA; MR. PICKNEY, Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: MAXINE CHESNEY, District Judge
ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT; DENYING APPLICATION TO
PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS
Before the Court is plaintiff's application to proceed in forma
pauperis. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e), where a plaintiff seeks to
proceed in forma pauperis, the district court must dismiss the case if the
court determines that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted or seeks monetary relief against a defendant
who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii),
Plaintiff brings the instant action against a state court, two state
court judges, and a deputy public defender. Plaintiff alleges that in
1999, after he was convicted for violation of § 487(c) of the
California Penal Code, "the sentence was suspended for a period of 3
years during which time plaintiff was placed under the care, custody and
control of the Probation Officer of Alameda County," (see Compl. ¶¶
19, 20), and he was ordered, as a
condition of probation, to pay restitution in the amount of $5,057,
(see Compl. ¶ 21). Plaintiff alleges that defendants caused
him to be deprived of his rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as
under state law, during the course of the criminal proceedings, which,
according to plaintiff, are still on-going.*fn1 Specifically, plaintiff
challenges the lawfulness, under both federal and state law, of the
sentence. As relief, plaintiff seeks an award of damages from defendants,
a declaration that defendants have violated his rights under federal and
state law, and injunctive relief in the form of an order requiring the
state court to refund to plaintiff any restitution and to terminate
The Court will address plaintiff's claims, in turn.
A. Federal Claims against Superior Court
Plaintiff brings his federal claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. A
plaintiff cannot bring a claim under § 1983 against a state or an "arm
of the state." See Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58,
70 (1989). The Superior Courts of the State of California are "arms of
the state." See Simmons v. Sacramento County Superior Court, 318 F.3d 1156,
1161 (9th Cir. 2003) (affirming dismissal of § 1983 claim against
Accordingly, plaintiff's federal claims against the Superior Court are
subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim, without leave to
B. Federal Claims for Damages against Judges
Plaintiff alleges, inter alia, claims for damages against two state
court judges, Judges Kurtz and Nakahara. Plaintiff alleges that the
judges made certain rulings that caused plaintiff to be deprived of his
federal rights. A judge is entitled to absolute immunity on a claim for
damages "`for acts committed within their judicial jurisdiction.'" See
Harvey v. Waldron, 210 F.3d 1008, 1012 (9th Cir. 2000) (quoting Pierson
v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 553-54 (1967)). Because the rulings on which
plaintiff bases his claim against the
judges are acts committed within their jurisdiction, the judges are
entitled to absolute immunity on plaintiffs claims for damages.
Accordingly, plaintiff's federal claims for damages against Judges
Kurtz and Nakahara are subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim,
without leave to amend.
C. Federal Claims for Damages against Public Defender and for Declaratory
Relief against Public Defender and Judges
"[l]n order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional
conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose
unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a § 1983
plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on
direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state
tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question
by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus,
28 U.S.C. § 2254." Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994). "A
claim for damages bearing that relationship to a conviction or sentence
that has not been so invalidated is not cognizable under § 1983."
Id. at 487. "Thus, when a state prisoner seeks damages in a § 1983
suit, the district court must consider whether a judgment in favor of the
plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or
sentence; if it would, the complaint must be dismissed unless the
plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has already been
invalidated." Id. Additionally, the rule announced in Heck applies to
claims for declaratory relief, where granting such relief would
necessarily imply the invalidity of a conviction or sentence. See Edwards
v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 643, 648 (1997) (holding § 1983 claim for
declaratory relief barred by Heck, where plaintiff sought declaration
that defendants deprived plaintiff of due process during course of prison
infraction hearing, which resulted in deprivation of good time credits).
Here, plaintiff's claims for declaratory relief against the judges are
based on the theory those defendants caused plaintiff to be subject to an
unconstitutional sentence and otherwise caused plaintiff to be deprived
of his federal rights during the course of the criminal proceedings. A
finding that plaintiff is entitled to declaratory relief based on such a
theory would necessarily imply the invalidity of plaintiff's sentence.
Consequently, plaintiff's federal claims for declaratory relief against
the state court judges are barred under the rule announced in Heck.
Additionally, plaintiff's claims for damages and for declaratory relief
against Deputy Public Defender Pickney ("Pickney"), which claims are
based on a theory of ineffective assistance of counsel, are barred. See
Trimble v. City of Santa Rosa, 49 F.3d 583, 584-85 (9th Cir. 1995)
(affirming dismissal of § 1983 claim against public defender for
ineffective assistance of counsel; holding such claim necessarily
implicated invalidity of conviction and thus was barred by Heck).
Accordingly, plaintiff's federal claims for declaratory relief against
Judges Kurtz and Nakahara, and plaintiff's federal claims for damages and
for declaratory relief against Pickney will be dismissed, without
prejudice to plaintiff refiling such claims in the event that plaintiff's
sentence is reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order,
declared invalid by a state court, or called into question by a federal
court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.
D. Federal Claims for Injunctive Relief
A claim attacking the validity or duration of a sentence imposed by a
state court must be brought in a petition for a writ of habeas section
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500
(1973). Here, as noted, plaintiff seeks an order requiring the state
court to refund to plaintiff any restitution and to terminate plaintiff's
probation. Because plaintiff is attacking the validity and duration of his
sentence, plaintiff must bring his claims for injunctive relief in a
petition for a writ of habeas corpus.*fn2 See id
Accordingly, plaintiff's federal claims for injunctive relief will be
dismissed, without prejudice to plaintiff filing a petition for a writ of
E. State Law Claims
The Court's jurisdiction over the instant action is based on the
existence of a federal question, specifically plaintiff's claims under
42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court's jurisdiction
over plaintiffs state law claims is supplemental in nature. See
28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). A district court may decline to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction where "the district court has dismissed all
claims over which it has original jurisdiction." See
28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3). Here, the federal claims have been
dismissed. Consequently, pursuant to § 1367(c)(3), the Court will
exercise its discretion to decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction
over plaintiffs' state law claims.
Accordingly, plaintiff's state law claims will be dismissed, without
prejudice to plaintiff refiling such claims in state court.
For the reasons set forth above:
1. Plaintiff's claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Superior
Court of California, County of Alameda, are hereby DISMISSED, with
2. Plaintiff's claims for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Judges Kurtz and Nakahara are hereby DISMISSED, with prejudice.
3. All remaining claims are hereby DISMISSED without prejudice.
4. Plaintiff's complaint is hereby DISMISSED without leave to amend.
5. In light of the dismissal of plaintiff's complaint, plaintiff's
application to proceed in forma pauperis is hereby DENIED as moot.
The Clerk of the Court shall close the case.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
JUDGMENT IN A CIVIL CASE