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Jackson v. Sullivan

January 29, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Wunderlich United States Magistrate Judge


I. Screening Requirement

Plaintiff Derwin Jules Jackson ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious," that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1),(2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

"Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil actions, with limited exceptions," none of which applies to section 1983 actions. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002); Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). Pursuant to Rule 8(a), a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). "Such a statement must simply give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Swierkiewicz, 534 U.S. at 512. However, "the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Neitze v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). "[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled." Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

II. Plaintiff's Claims

A. Summary of Plaintiff's Complaint

Plaintiff is a state prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Salinas Valley Prison in Soledad, California. Plaintiff is suing defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violating his rights under the First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution as well as his rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"). Plaintiff seeks damages and equitable relief.

Around September 29, 2004, Plaintiff was transferred from Ironwood State Prison to the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, California ("Tehachapi"). At the time, Plaintiff had a 90 day deadline from an order filed on August 24, 2004 to file a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. When Plaintiff arrived at Tehachapi, he requested his legal materials so that he could continue to prepare for his deadline. Plaintiff was told he would not receive his legal materials until he appeared before the Classification Committee. Plaintiff filed a 602 administrative appeal requesting his legal materials so he could meet his 90 day deadline. The appeal was partially granted and Plaintiff was issued his legal materials. However, Plaintiff was not allowed to enter the law library to work on his case. Plaintiff was told by Defendants Doe #1 and Doe #2 that he had to cut the braids from his hair before he will be allowed in the law library per prison regulations. Plaintiff refused to cut his hair and explained that he was a Rastafarian and he could not cut his hair due to his religion. Plaintiff was also denied time in the exercise yard and other activities because he refused to cut his hair. Plaintiff alleges that the regulations requiring Plaintiff to cut his hair do not serve a legitimate penological goal because he at all times he consented to having prison officials comb through his hair to look for contraband. Plaintiff was denied law library access again because of his hair by Defendants B. Phillips and M.S. Evans at a later date.

Plaintiff's deadline to file his writ of certiorari lapsed despite receiving a deadline extension because Plaintiff was unable to prepare his legal filings. His second request for a deadline extension was denied because at some point Plaintiff's property was confiscated by prison officials and Plaintiff was unable to include the lower court's opinion with his application for a deadline extension as required by court rules.

Plaintiff filed a 602 administrative appeal because he was denied outdoor exercise and visitation time because he would not cut his hair due to his religious beliefs. The appeal was denied by Defendants T.W. Meadows and J.L. Cobbs. Plaintiff also alleges that his fiancee wrote a letter to Defendant Sullivan informing him of the situation but Defendant Sullivan refused to correct the deprivations.

Plaintiff alleges that defendants retaliated against him because he filed administrative appeals and his expression of his religion. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants T. Traynham and M. Stainer deprived Plaintiff of his legal materials and Defendant T. Traynham transferred Plaintiff away from his family to Salinas Valley State Prison for retaliatory purposes.

B. First Amendment ...

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