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Ingraham v. Lundrigan

July 22, 2010

MICHAEL INGRAHAM, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LEE LUNDRIGAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

Plaintiff Michael Ingraham ("Plaintiff"), appearing pro se, filed the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on July 20, 2010. He names Stanislaus County Recorder Lee Lundrigan and her assistant, Jeremy Howell, as Defendants. Plaintiff paid the filing fee and is therefore not appearing in forma pauperis.

DISCUSSION

A. Screening Standard

A trial court may dismiss a claim sua sponte under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) where the claimant cannot possibly win relief. Omar v.Sea-Land Service, Inc., 813 F.2d 986, 991 (9th Cir. 1987); Wong v. Bell, 642 F.2d 359, 361-62 (9th Cir. 1981). A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact. Neitzke v. Wiliams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). A federal court may dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Nietzke, 490 U.S. at 327.

B. Plaintiff's Allegations

In the caption of his complaint, Plaintiff indicates that this action is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985 and 1986, as well as criminal statutes 18 U.S.C. §§ 241 and 242. Plaintiff alleges that he owns a home and land in Modesto, California, and is "currently interested in preserving and protecting [his] properly rights." Complaint, at 2. He contends that Defendants violated his rights to Due Process and Equal Protection by not allowing him to record a "Notice of Intent to Preserve an Interest." Complaint, at 3. Plaintiff contends that the document is required by California Civil Code section 880.350.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants refused to allow him to file the document pursuant to California Government Code section 27201, which sets out basic requirements for documents submitted for recordation. He believes that Defendants have created an "elite class of preferred citizens" by only allowing attorneys and other professionals to record documents. Complaint, at 6.

Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he attempted to file the document on July 14, 2010, but was told he was not allowed to do so. Plaintiff told the clerk that he was acting as his own attorney, but the clerk still refused. Plaintiff spoke with supervisor Jeremy Howell, who also refused to allow Plaintiff to file the document. Plaintiff alleges that he told Mr. Howell that his document met all the requirements, but he continued to refuse to allow Plaintiff to record the document. Plaintiff alleges that he was threatened with arrest and detention if he attempted to file the document again.

Plaintiff contends that Defendants knew, or should have known, that non-attorneys can record documents pursuant to federal law. He alleges causes of action for (1) declaratory and injunctive relief; and (2) intentional infliction of emotional distress.

C. Citation to Criminal Statutes

To the extent Plaintiff purports to bring this action under 18 U.S.C. §§ 241 and 242, he cannot do so. Sections 241 and 242 are criminal statutes addressing deprivation of rights and do not provide for a private right of action. See Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir.1980) (per curiam).

Similarly, Plaintiff alleges a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2071 in his complaint. This section, which prohibits concealment, removal or mutilation of public records, is also a criminal statute and does not provide a private right of action. See Dugar v. Coughlin, 613 F.Supp. 849 (S.D.N.Y. 1985).

Plaintiff is therefore unable to state a claim under 18 U.S.C. ...


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