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Smith v. Chrones

August 3, 2008

JAMES E. SMITH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHRIS CHRONES, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER CONSTRUING MOTION TO SUPPLEMENT THE PLEADINGS AS MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND DECLARATORY RELIEF (Doc. 23.)

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION

RECOMMENDING PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS

FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION AND DECLARATORY RELIEF BE DENIED (Docs. 21, 22, 23.) OBJECTIONS, IF ANY, DUE IN THIRTY (30) DAYS

I. RELEVANT PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff, James E. Smith ("plaintiff"), is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed the complaint that commenced this action on December 11, 2006. (Doc. 1.) On April 24, 2008 and April 28, 2008, plaintiff filed motions for preliminary injunction and declaratory relief. (Docs 21, 22.) On May 5, 2008, plaintiff filed a motion to supplement the pleadings. (Doc. 23.)

II. MOTION TO SUPPLEMENT THE PLEADINGS

Plaintiff has filed a motion to supplement the pleadings. In the motion, plaintiff requests the court to "declare that defendants violated plaintiff['s] rights under the Due Process clause of state standards; Order the expugement (sic) of the records; Grant plaintiff auxullary (sic) relief; Declare that plaintiff arrest was illegal and without probable cause; Grant plaintiff injunctive relief; and declare that this case is a case of controversy and exceeds $3,000 dollars." Nowhere in the motion does plaintiff request leave to file a supplemental complaint or express an intention to file a supplemental complaint. Accordingly, based on the nature of plaintiff's requests in the motion and his statements that the court should "declare" and "grant [] injunctive relief," the court shall construe the motion to file a supplemental complaint as a motion for preliminary injunction and declaratory relief.

III. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Preliminary Injunction

The purpose of a preliminary injunction is to preserve the status quo if the balance of equities so heavily favors the moving party that justice requires the court to intervene to secure the positions until the merits of the action are ultimately determined. University of Texas v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 395 (1981). A preliminary injunction is available to a plaintiff who "demonstrates either (1) a combination of probable success and the possibility of irreparable harm, or (2) that serious questions are raised and the balance of hardship tips in its favor." Arcamuzi v. Continental Air Lines, Inc., 819 F. 2d 935, 937 (9th Cir. 1987). Under either approach the plaintiff "must demonstrate a significant threat of irreparable injury." Id. Also, an injunction should not issue if the plaintiff "shows no chance of success on the merits." Id. At a bare minimum, the plaintiff "must demonstrate a fair chance of success of the merits, or questions serious enough to require litigation." Id.

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and as a preliminary matter, the court must have before it an actual case or controversy. City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 102, 103 S.Ct. 1660, 1665 (1983); Valley Forge Christian Coll. v. Ams. United for Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 471, 102 S.Ct. 752, 757-58 (1982); Jones v. City of Los Angeles, 444 F.3d 1118, 1126 (9th Cir. 2006). If the court does not have an actual case or controversy before it, it has no power to hear the matter in question. Id. Thus, "[a] federal court may issue an injunction [only] if it has personal jurisdiction over the parties and subject matter jurisdiction over the claim; it may not attempt to determine the rights of persons not before the court." Zepeda v. United States Immigration Service, 753 F.2d 719, 727 (9th Cir. 1985).

B. Declaratory Relief

"A declaratory judgment, like other forms of equitable relief, should be granted only as a matter of judicial discretion, exercised in the public interest." Eccles v. Peoples Bank of Lakewood Village, 333 U.S. 426, 431 (1948). "Declaratory relief should be denied when it will neither serve a useful purpose in clarifying and settling the legal relations in issue nor terminate the proceedings and afford relief from the ...


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