The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kendall J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge
Plaintiff, an individual incarcerated in the Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County, is proceeding without counsel. He filed a complaint in the Northern District of California on April 15, 2010, alleging a violation of his civil rights relating to a traffic stop and subsequent arrest by the Tracy, California Police Department. (Dkt. No. 1.) Plaintiff then filed an in forma pauperis application. (Dkt. No. 4.) On June 21, 2010, United States District Judge Jeffrey S. White found that venue was improper in the Northern District of California and transferred this case to the Eastern District of California. (Dkt. No. 5.)
This proceeding was referred to the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Rule 302. Plaintiff has submitted an in forma pauperis declaration that makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a).*fn1 Accordingly, the request to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted.
Plaintiff is nonetheless required to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for this action. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a), 1915(b)(1). By this order, plaintiff will be assessed an initial partial filing fee in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). By separate order, the court will direct the appropriate agency to collect the initial partial filing fee from plaintiff's prison trust account and forward it to the Clerk of the Court. Thereafter, plaintiff will be obligated to make monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding month's income credited to plaintiff's prison trust account. These payments will be forwarded by the appropriate agency to the Clerk of the Court each time the amount in plaintiff's account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is paid in full. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).
The determination that a plaintiff may proceed in forma pauperis does not complete the required inquiry. 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, at any point, 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).
A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may, therefore, dismiss a claim as frivolous when it is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis. See Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir. 1989); Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.
The undersigned cannot conclude on the present record that plaintiff's action is frivolous, that his complaint fails to state claims on which relief can be granted, or that he seeks monetary relief from an immune defendant. The undersigned reserves decision as to plaintiff's claims until the record is sufficiently developed, and this order does not preclude defendants from challenging plaintiff's complaint through a timely motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12 or other appropriate method of challenging plaintiff's pleading. Accordingly, the undersigned will order service of the complaint on defendants.
In accordance with the above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
1. Plaintiff's request for leave to proceed in forma pauperisis GRANTED. (Dkt. No. 14.)
2. Plaintiff is obligated to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for this action. Plaintiff is assessed an initial partial filing fee in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). All fees shall be collected and paid in accordance with this court's order to the Alameda County Sheriff's Office filed concurrently herewith.
3. Service of plaintiff's complaint is appropriate for defendants Tracy Police Department and San Joaquin County.
4. The Clerk of the Court shall send plaintiff two USM-285 forms, one summons, an instruction sheet and a copy of the complaint filed April 15, 2010.
5. Within thirty days from the date of this order, plaintiff shall complete the attached Notice of Submission of Documents and submit ...