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ANDERSON v. ANDERSON

United States District Court, N.D. California


March 23, 2004.

DONNA M. B. ANDERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
DOROTHY ANDERSON; et al., Defendants

The opinion of the court was delivered by: SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge

JUDGMENT

The complaint is dismissed without prejudice to the filing of a petition for writ of habeas corpus in this district challenging the conviction and sentence and without prejudice to the filing of a civil rights action in the Eastern District of California challenging conditions of confinement at the Central California Women's Facility.

IT IS SO ORDERED. Page 1

  ORDER OF DISMISSAL

  Donna M. B. Anderson, a California state inmate incarcerated at the Central California Women's Facility, filed this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The matter is now before the court for review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Anderson's in forma pauperis application also is before the court for consideration.

  BACKGROUND

  Anderson pled guilty and was convicted in San Mateo County Superior Court of murder and attempted murder. She was sentenced to an unstated prison term in July 2002.

  The present civil rights action is quite difficult to understand. Liberally construed, the complaint appears to have three aspects. First, Anderson seeks to set aside her conviction and apparently to blame other persons for the death of her son — the boy she was convicted of murdering. Second, Anderson wants to set aside a $3, 100, 507 civil judgment in the San Mateo Page 2 County Superior Court obtained against her by her ex-husband, Frank Burns. Third, Anderson complains about conditions of confinement at the Central California Women's Facility.

  DISCUSSION

  A federal court must engage in a preliminary screening of any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review the court must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See id. at 1915A(b)(1),(2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

  To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated and (2) that the violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

  Each of the three aspects of Anderson's complaint has at least one defect that requires its dismissal. The first aspect of the complaint is a challenge to the conviction and sentence. Anderson may not challenge her conviction or sentence in a civil rights action. To the extent she wants to have her conviction or sentence set aside, she must file a petition for writ of habeas corpus rather than a civil rights action. A petition for writ of habeas corpus is the exclusive method by which Anderson may challenge her state court conviction in this court. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973). Before she may file a federal petition, however, Anderson must exhaust state judicial remedies, either on direct appeal or through collateral proceedings, by presenting the highest state court available with a fair opportunity to rule on the merits of each and every issue she seeks to raise in federal court. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A),(c); Duckworth v. Serrano, 454 U.S. 1, 3 (1981). The court will not construe the civil rights complaint to be a petition for writ of habeas corpus. See Trimble v. City of Santa Rosa, 49 F.3d 583, 586 (9th Cir. 1995). The portion of the complaint challenging the conviction and/or Page 3 sentence is dismissed without prejudice to Anderson filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Anderson should act diligently in filing a federal petition for writ of habeas corpus because there is a one-year statute of limitations that limits the time within which she may file a federal habeas petition. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d).

  The next part of the complaint appears to challenge a three million dollar civil judgment against Anderson. Anderson must challenge that state court judgment by filing an appeal in state court rather than by asking the federal court to review the decision of the San Mateo County Superior Court. Federal district courts are courts of original jurisdiction and may not review the final determinations of a state court. See District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 482-86 (1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 415-16 (1923) (district courts may not exercise appellate jurisdiction over state courts); Doe & Assoc. v. Napolitano, 252 F.3d 1026, 1029-30 (9th Cir. 2001); Olson Farms, Inc. v. Barbosa, 134 F.3d 933, 936 (9th Cir. 1998).

  The third area of the complaint challenges conditions of confinement at the Central California Women's Facility. That prison is in Chowchilla, in Madera County. Madera County is within the venue of the Eastern District of California. An action challenging conditions at the Central California Women's Facility must be brought in the Eastern District, rather than the Northern District of California. The court will not transfer this action to the Eastern District because the court has once before informed Anderson that such challenges needed to be brought in the Eastern District and she apparently has ignored the court's direction. See Oct. 28, 2002 Order of Dismissal in Anderson v. Henry, No. C 02-4020 SI (pr). Transferring the portion of this action that challenges the conditions of confinement (rather than dismissing it) would simply encourage Anderson to continue to disregard this court's directions. The portion of the complaint that challenges conditions of confinement at the Central California Women's Facility is dismissed without prejudice to Anderson filing a civil rights action in the Eastern District of California. 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). Page 4

  CONCLUSION

  For the foregoing reasons, the complaint is dismissed. This dismissal is without prejudice to Anderson filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Northern District of California challenging her conviction and sentence. This dismissal also is without prejudice to Anderson filing a civil rights action in the Eastern District of California challenging the conditions of confinement at the Central California Women's Facility.

  Anderson's in forma pauperis application is DENIED because she has sufficient funds to pay the filing fee in this action. Anderson must pay the $ 150.00 filing fee by April 30, 2004.

  The clerk shall close the file.

  IT IS SO ORDERED.

20040323

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