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Coleman v. Director of Corrections

December 1, 2009


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


I. Findings and Recommendations

Plaintiff Saahdi Coleman ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff initiated this action on February 24, 2009. (Doc. 1.) On July 7, 2009, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint, with leave to file a first amended complaint within 30 days. (Doc. 9.) On August 13, 2009, Plaintiff filed his first amended complaint. (Doc. 10.)

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 Atl. 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 conclusions are not. Id.

II. Summary of Amended Complaint

Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at Folsom State Prison. Plaintiff was previously incarcerated at California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility ("SATF") in Corcoran, California, where the events giving rise to this action allegedly occurred. Plaintiff names as defendants the Director of Corrections, warden Ken Clark, senior librarian M. Hildreth, education head S. Ponce, librarian S. Levario, and John Doe 1, officer in charge of delivering paging system requests to inmates.

In a 93-page complaint, Plaintiff alleges the following. Plaintiff was transferred to SATF on September 4, 2003. (First Am. Compl. (FAC) ¶ 207.) Plaintiff's legal property was lost, which included affidavits and other evidence for Plaintiff's civil complaint and criminal appeal. (FAC ¶ 207.) Plaintiff describes in detail his civil complaint against the Sacramento Main Jail for conditions of confinement. (FAC ¶¶ 180-206.) Plaintiff complained of receiving a rejection letter regarding mail he had sent containing his civil suit against the Sacramento County Main Jail. (FAC ¶ 208.) Plaintiff had omitted his CDC number on the envelope. (FAC ¶ 208.) Plaintiff received the rejection letter more than 57 days after it was sent. (FAC ¶ 209.)

On February 20, 2004, SATF issued a memorandum for the paging system, which inmates use for purposes of legal filings. (FAC ¶ 211.) The paging system procedure is as follows: (1) the floor officer collects the paging system requests and delivers it to the librarian mail tray; (2) librarian files the order and places the filed order in the respective building tray; (3) the building floor officer delivers the order to the inmate to sign a CDC 193 form; (4) the signed CDC 193 is returned to the librarian mail tray. (FAC ¶ 215.)

On February 24, 2004, pursuant to the paging system requirements, Plaintiff submitted his affidavits and civil complaint to the building floor officer, who was then to walk the items to the law library to file. (FAC ¶ 212.) On March 25, 2004, Plaintiff filed a request for interview with the C-yard librarian. (FAC ¶ 213.) Plaintiff explained that he had the building floor officer submit the affidavits and civil complaint to the law library for purpose of copying but did not receive the documents or a CDC 193 form. (FAC ¶ 213.) The librarian responded by sending Plaintiff the paging system memorandum, which indicated to Plaintiff that he had complied. (FAC ¶ 214.) Plaintiff drafted another civil complaint on April 13, 2004, and again submitted this to the floor officer via the paging system. (FAC ¶ 216.) On April 18, 2004, Plaintiff again contacted the librarian that he had not received copies of his complaint. (FAC ¶ 217.)

On May 25, 2004, Plaintiff filed a request for extension of time with the Sacramento Superior Court. (FAC ¶ 218.) The librarian in response to Plaintiff's request for interview again forwarded the paging system memorandum. (FAC ¶ 219.) Plaintiff then filed an emergency appeal on June 8, 2004, which was subsequently screened out as untimely. (FAC ¶¶ 220, 222.) Plaintiff filed his civil complaint on June 14, 2004, without supporting affidavits and other key exhibits. (FAC ¶ 221.) Plaintiff contacted the law office of Donald Spector regarding his issues with the paging system; the letter from the law office was opened outside the presence of Plaintiff. (FAC ¶¶ 223, 225.)

On February 14, 2005, Plaintiff filed a 602 inmate appeal form regarding access to the law library during lockdown. (FAC ¶ 226.) On May 4, 2005, Plaintiff's grievance was granted in part. (FAC ¶ 228.) Plaintiff was forwarded a January 11, 2005 memorandum which outlined PLU access to the law library during lockdown through the paging system by submitting requests through the mail. (FAC ¶ 228.) On May 5, 2005, legal mail from the Stockton Superior Court was opened outside the presence of Plaintiff. (FAC ¶ 229.)

Plaintiff appealed his grievance to the Director level, requesting physical access to the law library during lockdown. (FAC ¶ 230.) Plaintiff filed an inmate appeal regarding not receiving certain requested case law from the law library. (FAC ¶ 231.) Legal mail from the Sacramento Superior Court was opened outside of Plaintiff's presence. (FAC ¶ 232.) Plaintiff's inmate appeal for law library access was denied at the Director's level because security concerns take precedent over library access. (FAC ¶ 235.) Plaintiff was informed that he should request an extension of time to file based on the circumstances. (FAC ¶ 235.) Plaintiff's appeal regarding requested case law requests was denied, as it appeared that Plaintiff was receiving his requested legal materials, even though he had not received certain requests. (FAC ¶¶ 236, 237.)

On January 11, 2006, Plaintiff filed his writ of habeas corpus in state court without affidavits and other supporting evidence because it had been lost by defendants. (FAC ¶ 239.) On March 1, 2006, more legal confidential mail was opened outside of Plaintiff's presence. (FAC ¶ 240.) On March 3, 2006, Plaintiff's state writ of habeas corpus was denied as untimely filed and for failure to provide supporting evidence for his claims. (FAC ¶ 241.) Plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration, detailing defendants' acts and including supporting evidence for his claims; Plaintiff's motion as to timeliness was granted. (FAC ¶ 242.) The petition was denied on the merits. (FAC ¶ 62.) On May 7, 2006, Plaintiff filed his appeal to the California Court of Appeals, which was denied. (FAC ¶¶ 64, 67.) On May 23, 2006, while SATF was on lockdown again, Plaintiff used the paging system to submit his only copy of his state writ of habeas corpus for copying. (FAC ¶ 244.) Plaintiff's writ was lost. (FAC ¶ 246.) Plaintiff filed several ...

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