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Rollins v. County of Los Angeles

October 8, 2009

DENNIS ROLLINS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Mcdermott United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

On August 3, 2009, Dennis Rollins ("plaintiff"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985.

SCREENING STANDARDS

In accordance with the provisions governing in forma pauperis proceedings, the Court must screen the complaint before ordering service to determine whether the action:

(1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). This screening is governed by the following standards:

A complaint may be dismissed as a matter of law for failure to state a claim for two reasons: (1) the plaintiff fails to state a cognizable legal theory; or (2) the plaintiff has alleged insufficient facts under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). In determining whether a complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted, allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Love v. United States, 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1989). However, "the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations." Neitzke 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)).

Although a complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations" to survive dismissal, a plaintiff must provide "more than mere labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (rejecting the traditional "no set of facts" standard set forth in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)). The complaint must contain factual allegations sufficient to rise above the "speculative level" (Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555), or the merely possible or conceivable. Id. at 557, 570.

Simply put, the complaint must contain "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. A claim has facial plausibility when the complaint presents enough facts "to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ___U.S. ___, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). This standard is not a probability requirement, but "it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. A complaint that pleads facts that are merely consistent with liability stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility. Id.

In a pro se civil rights case, the complaint must be construed liberally to afford plaintiff the benefit of any doubt. Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dept, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). Before dismissing a pro se civil rights complaint for failure to state a claim, the plaintiff should be given a statement of the complaint's deficiencies and an opportunity to cure. Id. Only if it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies cannot be cured by amendment should the complaint be dismissed without leave to amend. Id. at 623; see also Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995).

After careful review and consideration of the complaint under the relevant standards and for the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that plaintiff has failed to state a claim on which relief may be granted and ORDERS thecomplaint DISMISSED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND.

PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

Although his claims are difficult to decipher, Plaintiff appears to allege four separate claims. First, Plaintiff claims that certain individuals with the Los Angeles County Superior Court Commission on Judicial Performance, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, the Office of the Los Angeles County Counsel, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have adopted a "secret pocket policy" to convict citizens wrongfully, in violation of his First, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment Rights. (Petition at 5A.) Plaintiff alleges that these policies were manifested by a host of errors during the course of his 2007 prosecution in Los Angeles County Superior Court on charges of petty theft with priors (Complaint, Exhibit A, 10/26/07 Preliminary Transcript Hearing at 5), including denial of a continuance of the preliminary hearing, denial of the right to subpoena witnesses on his behalf at the preliminary hearing, denial of the right to confront witnesses against him at the preliminary hearing, ineffective assistance of counsel (although he apparently represented himself), and malfeasance by his court-appointed investigator. (Petition at 5A-5D.)

Second, Plaintiff again claims that certain individuals with the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Office of the Los Angeles County Counsel, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have adopted a "secret pocket policy" to convict citizens wrongfully, in violation of his First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment Rights. (Petition at 5E-5F.) Plaintiff alleges that these policies were manifested when the "Los Angeles County Court Clerks" conspired with "other state actors" to dismiss a civil action brought by Plaintiff. (Id.)

Third, Plaintiff claims that certain individuals with the "Rampart Police Department," the Office of the Los Angeles County Counsel, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted a "secret pocket policy" to convict citizens wrongfully, in violation of his First, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment Rights. (Petition at 5G-5H.) Plaintiff alleges that these defendants turn "a blind eye towards justice, allowing corrupt activities solely for the purpose of violating every known Constitutional Right." (Petition at 5H.) Plaintiff alleges that these policies were manifested when police officials "in concert with other state actors" purposely failed to preserve evidence that would have proven Plaintiff's innocence. (Id.)

Fourth, Plaintiff claims that certain individuals with the Los Angeles County Jail, the Office of the Los Angeles County Counsel, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted a "secret pocket policy" to convict citizens wrongfully, in violation of his First, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Petition at 5I.) Plaintiff alleges that these defendants turn "a blind eye towards justice, allowing corrupt activities solely for the purpose of violating every known Constitutional Right." (Petition at 5J.) Plaintiff alleges that he was purposely hindered from defending himself from felony charges by jail personnel because they did not recognize his pro se status, the law library had outdated materials, he was not able to receive legal supplies in a timely manner, and he was placed into segregated housing without cause in order to prevent him from defending himself. (Id.) Plaintiff also includes with his fourth claim allegations of "medical malpractice." Specifically, plaintiff ...


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