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Ward v. Schwarzenegger

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


September 10, 2010

SHIMAINE WARD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS GOVERNOR FOR THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA; CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION; MATTHEW CATE, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS THE SECRETARY OF CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION; MELINDA JAMES; AND DOES 1-50, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Frank C. Damrell, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter is before the court on defendants Arnold Schwarzenegger ("Schwarzenegger"), Matthew Cate ("Cate"), and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's ("CDCR") motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Specifically, defendants Schwarzenegger and Cate move to dismiss plaintiff's federal constitutional claims against them. Plaintiff Shimaine Ward ("plaintiff" or "Ward") does not oppose this motion. Accordingly, defendants Schwarzenegger and Cate's motion to dismiss is GRANTED.

Defendant CDCR moves to dismiss plaintiff's claims on the grounds that it is not a proper defendant and is immune under the Eleventh Amendment.*fn1 Plaintiff concedes that CDCR is not a proper defendant with respect to his federal claims, but contends that defendant CDCR is not immune from state law claims under the Eleventh Amendment. For the reasons set forth below,*fn2 defendant CDCR's motion to dismiss plaintiff's federal claims is GRANTED and its motion to dismiss plaintiff's state law claims is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

On April 23, 1998, Ward pled guilty to robbery in Contra Costa. (Compl., Ex. 1 to Notice of Removal, filed Jan. 4, 2010, ¶ 10.) That same day, he was sentenced to an aggregate term of nine years state prison: a five year term on count one, four consecutive one year sentences on counts two through five, and concurrent three year terms on the remaining nine counts. Ward received pre-sentence credits of 203 actual days and 100 days conduct credits for a total of 303 days pre-sentence credit. At the time, robbery was considered a serious felony under Penal code section 1192.7, but not a violent felony under Penal code section 667.5; therefore he was not subject to the 15% limitation on credits. Ward was sent to the CDCR to serve his sentence.

Id.

On February 1, 1999, Ward pled guilty to a federal grand jury indictment, charging one count of bank robbery and one count of use of a firearm. (Id. ¶ 11.) He was sentenced by this court to an aggregate term of 97 months; the sentence imposed on count one, 37 months, was to run concurrent to the California state sentence Ward was already serving, and the sentence imposed on count two, 60 months, was to run consecutive to his state term. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b)(4), the court directed Ward to be imprisoned in a California penal institution. (Id.)

Ward was returned to the custody of the CDCR to serve his sentence. (Id.) The Federal Bureau of Prisons recognized that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation had primary custodial authority over Ward. (Id.) The projected release date as of this custodial transfer was June 18, 2002. (Id.) At the conclusion of his commitment in the CDCR, Ward was to be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons to begin serving his remaining sentence: a 60 month consecutive term imposed for use of a firearm. (Id.)

On June 28, 2000, Ward pled guilty to two counts of robbery in Santa Clara County pursuant to a negotiated disposition that he would not serve any additional custody time than that previously imposed on the prior state and federal matters. (Id. ¶ 12.) However, after the imposition of this sentence, the CDCR erroneously reset Ward's release date from June of 2002 to July 27, 2006. (Id. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff alleges that absent this error, Mr. Ward would have concluded his state term and begun serving his federal sentence in June of 2002. (Id.)

On July 11, 2002, Ward filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Santa Clara Superior Court. (Id. ¶ 14.) In that petition, Ward asserted that he had been assured that if he pled guilty he would be sentenced concurrent to his Contra Costa case and would serve no additional time in prison. (Id.)

On May 15, 2003, the Superior Court issued a final order directing that the CDCR deliver Ward to the custody of the Attorney General of the United States or his authorized representative for the purpose of commencing service of the 60 month consecutive sentence imposed in the federal action. (Id. ¶ 15.) On May 16, 2003, a deputy clerk of the Santa Clara Superior Court served Jack Marshall, acting warden of North Kern state prison with a copy of the order. (Id. ¶ 16.) The order was received by the warden's office on June 2, 2003. (Id.) The CDCR apparently attempted to comply with this order, but the federal government refused to take custody of him at this time. (Id.)

In July 2006, federal marshals took custody of Ward. Ward then initiated federal habeas proceedings to receive credit against his federal sentence for the additional time he spent incarcerated in a state facility. (Id. ¶ 17.) On May 23, 2008, the Santa Clara Superior Court issued an order vacating Ward's seven year sentence imposed on July 14, 2000 and resentenced Ward to a term of two years nunc pro tunc to July 14, 2000, which was to run concurrent to any state or federal sentence. (Id. ¶ 18.) The court further found that Ward had completed service of all imposed California state prison terms on June 18, 2002 and thereafter, was no longer serving any prison sentence for any California state offense. Notice of the same was timely provided to CDCR. (Id.)

Plaintiff alleges that the CDCR failed to conform its records to reflect the May 23, 2008 court order and sentence. (Id. ¶ 19.) As a result, the federal authorities were noticed of the order but would not adjust Ward's sentence until the CDCR updated its records. (Id.) Ward subsequently filed a motion in the Santa Clara Superior Court, requesting the court to issue an order directing the CDCR to conform its records. (Id. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff alleges that his requests for correction were largely ignored by the CDCR. (Id. ¶ 21.)

Plaintiff alleges that if he had been properly transferred to federal custody by the CDCR on June 18, 2002, he would have been released from federal custody no later than June 18, 2007. (Id. ¶ 22.) Plaintiff further alleged that had he been transferred to federal custody immediately after the May 23, 2008 order, he would have been immediately released. (Id.) Ward was not released from federal custody until December 1, 2008. (Id.)

On October 14, 2009, plaintiff filed a complaint, alleging that defendants violated various constitutional rights and committed negligence, false imprisonment, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Defendants Schwarzenegger and James removed the action to this court on January 4, 2010. On January 12, 2010, defendant Cate and CDCR filed a notice of Joinder in the removal.

ANALYSIS

Defendant CDCR moves to dismiss plaintiff's state law claims against the CDCR on the basis that it is a state agency entitled to immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. Plaintiff opposes the motion, arguing that CDCR waived such immunity when it removed the case to federal court.

The Eleventh Amendment grants a State immunity from suit in federal court by its own citizens. U.S. Const., Amdt. 11 ("The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit... commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States...."); Lapides v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. Sys. of Georgia, 535 U.S. 613, 616 (2002) (citing Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1 (1890)). However, a State may waive its Eleventh Amendment immunity from suit in a federal court. Lapides, 535 U.S. at 618.

Specifically, the Supreme Court has held that a State's removal of a case from state court to federal court voluntarily invokes the federal court's jurisdiction. Id. at 620. The Court reasoned that "[i]t would seem anomalous or inconsistent for a State both (1) to invoke federal jurisdiction, thereby contending that the 'Judicial power of the United States' extends to the case at hand, and (2) to claim Eleventh Amendment immunity, thereby denying that the 'Judicial power of the United States' extends to the case at hand." Id. at 619. Indeed, "where a State voluntarily becomes a party to a cause and submits its rights for judicial determination, it will be bound thereby and cannot escape the result of its own voluntary act by invoking the prohibitions of the Eleventh Amendment." Id. (emphasis in original) (quoting Gunter v. Atl. Coast Line R.R. Co., 200 U.S. 273, 284 (1906)). Accordingly, the Court concluded that even though a State may be brought involuntarily into a case as a defendant in state court proceedings, that defendant voluntarily invokes the jurisdiction of the federal court when it agrees to remove the case. Id.

In this case, defendant CDCR voluntarily joined in the notice of removal after defendants Schwarzenegger and James initially removed the case. As such, this case is controlled by the Supreme Court's holding in Lapides, and defendant CDCR cannot invoke immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. Accordingly, plaintiff is not barred from bringing suit against CDCR. Therefore, defendant CDCR's motion to dismiss plaintiff's state law claims on the basis of Eleventh Amendment immunity is DENIED.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, defendants Schwarzenegger and Cate's motion to dismiss is GRANTED, and defendant CDCR's motion to dismiss is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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