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Martinez v. Warden

August 20, 2009

SHAWN MARTINEZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WARDEN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING DISMISSAL OF ACTION FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM UPON WHICH RELIEF MAY BE GRANTED UNDER SECTION 1983 (Doc. 15)

OBJECTIONS DUE WITHIN THIRTY DAYS

Findings and Recommendations Following Screening of Second Amended Complaint

I. Background

Plaintiff Shawn Martinez ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On May 5, 2008, Ricky Reyes, Raymond Glass, Shawn Martinez, Jean-Paul Williams, Robert Armendariz and William Nible filed a civil rights action bearing Case No. 1:08-cv-00627 LJO DLB PC. On May 21, 2008, the Court issued an order severing the claims and ordering each plaintiff to proceed separately in his own action. Each plaintiff was ordered to file an amended complaint in his own action. Plaintiff Shawn Martinez is proceeding in this action bearing Case No. 1:08-cv-00711 LJO DLB PC. Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint on July 14, 2008. On February 27, 2009, this Court issued an order dismissing the First Amended Complaint, with leave to amend. Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint on April 30, 2009.

II. Screening Requirement

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).

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)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusion are not. Id. at 1949.

III. Plaintiff's Claims

Plaintiff is currently housed at High Desert State Prison. The events at issue in this action allegedly occurred at Kern Valley State Prison. Plaintiff names Warden Hedgpeth, Appeals Coordinator Gricewich, Appeals Coordinator C. Pfieffer, Librarians Spray and Christensen, Senior Librarian Olsen, Chief of Inmate Appeals N. Grannis, Captain Doran, and Correctional Officer Garza as defendants.

A. Access to the Courts

Plaintiff alleges that defendants Spray, Doran, Olsen, Christensen, Hedgpeth and Garza have each violated his rights under the United States Constitution by denying him meaningful access to the courts in order to petition the government for redress. Plaintiff contends that he has been deprived access to the law library and that the legal materials available are not current.

Inmates have a fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 346 (1996). The right of access is merely the right to bring to court a grievance the inmate wishes to present, and is limited to direct criminal appeals, habeas petitions, and civil rights actions. Id. at 354. The State is not required to enable the inmate to discover grievances or to litigate effectively once in court. Id.

Inmates do not have the right to a law library or legal assistance. Id. at 351. Law libraries and legal assistance programs are only the means of ensuring access to the courts. Id. Because inmates do not have "an abstract, freestanding right to a law library or legal assistance, an inmate cannot establish relevant actual injury by establishing that his prison's law library or legal assistance program is subpar in some theoretical sense." Id. Rather, an ...


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