United States District Court, N.D. California
March 23, 2004.
DONNA M. B. ANDERSON, Plaintiff,
DOROTHY ANDERSON; et al., Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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).
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.
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