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Howard v. Spearman

March 18, 2009

DARYL K. HOWARD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
M.E. SPEARMAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur L. Alarcón United States Circuit Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff Daryl Howard is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff also proceeds in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. (Doc. 13).

On January 5, 2009, Defendants Ayers, Beltran, Wright, Grannis, Nelson, Rowe, Catlin, and Walton (collectively, "Defendants") filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the grounds that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997(e)a ("PLRA"). (Doc. 43). For the reasons discussed in greater detail below, Defendants' motion is granted. The action with respect to these Defendants is dismissed without prejudice.

I.

In his Amended Complaint, filed on February 27, 2007, Plaintiff claims that his constitutional rights were violated when he was repeatedly denied access to his legal files while he was placed in the A-4 Administrative Segregation Unit ("Ad-Seg"). Plaintiff claims that being denied access these files "prejudiced his efforts in obtaining federal judicial review of his convictions" -- that is, his efforts for obtaining federal habeas relief. (Doc. 18 at 4.)

The Amended Complaint sets forth the ways in which Defendants allegedly denied Plaintiff access to his legal files and allegedly denied him his constitutional rights. These allegations are highlighted below.

In December 2005, Plaintiff, who was then housed at Los Angeles County State Prison ("CSP-LAC"), was placed in Ad-Seg. CSP-LAC staff placed his property, including his legal files, in Receiving & Release ("R&R"). In February 2006, CSP-LAC staff delivered Plaintiff's legal files to Ad-Seg. Sergeant Griffith, however, refused to allow Plaintiff to access these files.*fn1

Plaintiff submitted an administrative grievance with regard to Griffith's actions. (See Curiel Decl., Ex. B.) This appeal was later exhausted. (See Doc. 18, Ex. A.)

In February 2006, Plaintiff also attempted to contact Griffith's superior, Lieutenant Walton. Walton ignored Plaintiff's requests that he be given his legal property. (Doc. 18 at 12.)

In March 2006, library technician Catlin mistakenly informed Sergeant Griffith that Plaintiff no longer had an active court case and therefore was no longer entitled to his legal property. (Doc. 18 at 13.) In March, Griffith also responded to Plaintiff's first-level appeal (with respect to Plaintiff's claim against him) and denied it on the ground that Plaintiff did not have an active court case. (Doc. 18 at 13.)

In April 2006, Plaintiff contacted Lieutenant Beltran and asserted that he was entitled to his legal property, but his requests for assistance were ignored by Beltran. (Doc. 18 at 13-14.)

In June 2006, Plaintiff informed senior librarian Rowe that he was entitled to his legal property; Rowe ignored his requests and informed him that his case was no longer active. (Doc. 18 at 15-17.)

In July 2006, Warden Ayers responded to Plaintiff's second-level appeal (with respect to Plaintiff's claim against Griffith) and denied it on the ground that Plaintiff did not have an active case. Plaintiff asserts that Ayers' response was based upon other defendants' mistaken information, and that Ayers was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's constitutional rights. (Doc. 18 at 17-18.)

In the meantime, in August 2006, Grannis, chief of inmate appeals, submitted a declaration in support of the Attorney General's answer to Plaintiff's state habeas petition. Plaintiff asserts that Grannis' ...


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