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Turner v. Spence

March 6, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gregory G. Hollows United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se,*fn1 seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court are: 1) plaintiff's "petition for writ of mandamus to compel immediate discovery disclosures," filed on 7/15/08; 2) defendants' motion to compel discovery responses and for sanctions, filed on 9/05/08, to which plaintiff has filed an opposition after which defendants filed their reply; 3) plaintiff's "motion for default," filed on 7/21/08.

This action proceeds on plaintiff's amended complaint, filed on 3/29/07, against the following defendants: Woodland Police Officer Luke A. Spence and the following Yolo County Sheriff's Department employees: Commander Ed Prieto; Lieutenant (Lt.) T. Day; Sergeant (Sgt.) D. Hunter; Deputy Chan;*fn2 Deputy Gibson; Correctional Lt. Rademaker;*fn3 Deputy Duvall; Deputy Madden;1 in addition, Registered Nurse (R.N.) Tony [Thomas].

This court has previously set forth plaintiff's allegations, as follows. Plaintiff alleges that on December 11, 2006, defendant Officer Spence subjected him to excessive force in arresting plaintiff, twisting plaintiff's wrists and left arm and slamming the left side of plaintiff's face into a concrete wall. Amended Complaint (AC), p. 8. Plaintiff claims that his circulation was cut off and his wrists went numb when he was handcuffed by defendant Spence. Id. Plaintiff avers that he was arrested without probable cause but as a result of racial profiling, that Spence threatened to taser plaintiff even after plaintiff informed Spence he was a "disabled cardiac patient." Id. According to plaintiff, defendant Spence called him "discriminatory names," and refused to read plaintiff his Miranda rights, claiming also that he was engaged in no unlawful conduct when arrested, nor did he resist arrest. Id. Plaintiff contends that Spence searched him without contacting plaintiff's parole agent and without plaintiff's consent, removing various items of personal property worth $1,020.00, including $120 in cash; two gift cards with a total value of $200; watches with a value of $400, and other items. AC, pp. 8-9. Plaintiff contends that defendant Spence, after dropping the items on the ground in the rain, scooped the items into a paper bag that plaintiff never saw again. Id. at 9. Plaintiff avers that he has been subjected to a deprivation of his property by defendant Spence without due process and that he was never given a receipt for the items. Id.

Plaintiff claims that defendant Spence "unlawfully interrogated" plaintiff in the back of his patrol car for "1 / 2 hours [sic],"*fn4 as he drove around Woodland without taking plaintiff to the Woodland Police Station to be charged or booked, as plaintiff requested, and despite plaintiff's having refused to make a statement, and having asked to be able to make a call for his lawyer. AC, pp. 9-10. On the detour away from the police station, defendant Spence told plaintiff of having "busted" various "dope fiends and druggies" and turned them into "snitches" to whom he gave breaks. Id. at 10. Plaintiff informed Spence that he did not know any of his "dope fiend snitches," that he did not hang out with such people and did not live in Woodland, but in Dunnigan with his mother. Id.

Plaintiff asked for the restraints, which were cutting into his skin and causing abrasions, to be loosened, but defendant Spence refused. Id.

Defendant Spence drove plaintiff across town to the Woodland Parole Office, where an unnamed heavy set Latino parole officer called plaintiff degrading names, and along with defendant Spence compelled plaintiff to sign a prepared statement which he did not have a chance to read. AC, pp. 10-11. In doing so, defendant Spence put pressure on and twisted the handcuffs on plaintiff's wrists which were already in severe pain, after the parole officer told Spence to uncuff one hand so that plaintiff could sign the prepared statement. Id. at 11. When plaintiff protested being called a "piece of shit" and asked to be able to call his lawyer, both men told him: "You don't have any fucking rights" and "to shut the fuck up about a lawyer. You are not getting one!" Id. Spence twisted plaintiff['s] left wrist, while the parole office[r] shoved a pen in his hand and ordered plaintiff to sign the paper. Id.

Plaintiff was then taken to the jail at the Monroe & Leinberger Detention Centers of the Yolo County Sheriff's Dept. in Woodland. Id. When plaintiff showed defendant R.N. Tony his "swollen red and purple wrists," requesting that he file # 7219 medical report documenting plaintiff's injuries, defendant Tony refused, telling him he would do nothing for him. Id. Plaintiff suffered pain without receiving adequate medical care. Id. Defendant Sgt. Hunter told defendant Deputies Chan*fn5 and Gibson to remove plaintiff's gold wedding band and 1 / 4 karat diamond "chip ear," and designer belt, for which property plaintiff did not receive a receipt and of which he has been deprived without due process. AC, p. 12. While plaintiff was being uncuffed and searched by the defendant deputies, plaintiff asked defendant Hunter for a citizen's complaint form against law enforcement personnel to complain about the alleged excessive force for which he claims a permanent injury in his left hand middle finger, but Hunter stated that she could not find the forms. Id. In retaliation for plaintiff's having asked to file a complaint, defendants Chan and Gibson put plaintiff in a small holding cell by himself. Id.

Defendants Hunter, Duvall, Chan, Gibson and Jamolodin, also in retaliation, deprived plaintiff of lunch and dinner, while feeding other detainees in the jail booking area, stating that they would mark down that they had fed him, and laughing at him, while taunting him by saying he should write about it in his complaint, if he ever got one. Id. Plaintiff was kept in the holding tank with no bedding or grooming implements from Dec. 11, 2006 to Dec. 12, 2006, and his booking was delayed for 13 hours after his arrest. Id. The delay in booking him resulted in plaintiff being deprived of his right to bail and to be arraigned in 48 hours, to a speedy trial and to "fundamental, substantive and procedural due process rights and equal protection of law under the 4th, 6th, 13th and 14th Amendments." AC, p. 13. Plaintiff alleges that he was physically threatened by defendant Hunter and "her klan [sic] of deputies" and subjected to further retaliation and punishment for three and a half months, from the day of his Dec. 11, 2006 arrest until March 27, 2007, while he remained in the ad seg (administrative segregation) unit without due process. Id.

Order, filed on 4/04/08 (docket # 73), pp. 4-7. "Petition for Writ of Mandamus"

This filing is a potpourri of requests, primarily, but defectively, directed toward compelling discovery from defendants. The scope of discovery under Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1) is broad. Discovery may be obtained as to any unprivileged matter "relevant to the claim or defense of any party...." Id. Discovery may be sought of relevant information not admissible at trial "if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id. The court, however, may limit discovery if it " unreasonably cumulative or duplicative," or can be obtained from another source "that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive"; or if the party who seeks discovery "has had ample opportunity by discovery obtain the information sought"; or if the proposed discovery is overly burdensome. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(i)(ii) and (iii).

To the extent that plaintiff asks the court to compel discovery from defendants, he once again fails to identify and attach any specific discovery requests and the responses with which he takes issue. See Order, filed on 4/04/08, pp. 13-15, wherein the court, in adjudicating, inter alia, multiple putative motions to compel discovery brought by plaintiff, informed him of how to file an appropriate discovery motion. The basis of the instant motion appears to be his mistaken belief that he is entitled to initial or automatic disclosures by defendants even though the parties in this case are specifically exempted from such initial disclosure. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(1)(B)(iv), which exempts parties from the requirement of initial discovery disclosure in "an action brought without an attorney by a person in the custody of the United States, a state, or a state subdivision."

Although defendants did not file a response to plaintiff's "petition" (perhaps because it was not entirely coherent and thus unclear if plaintiff had made a substantive request), defendants in their own motion to compel warrant that they have produced documents in response to plaintiff's requests for discovery, served upon them as of 5/08/08. See below. Of course, as the court cautioned in its Order, filed on 4/04/08, to the extent that plaintiff properly served discovery requests upon them that defendants failed altogether to address.

Plaintiff also asks that the court require the Sheriff's Department to provide him with "legal assistance, legal preparations, and legal copies, law library and law book curiculum [sic] and consortum [sic] as required by state and federal law...." Petition, p. 6. The court need not address whether or not plaintiff has provided a sufficient basis for his request ...

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