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Deborah Lenore Bodge v. Findings and Recommendation Trinity County Sheriff's

January 26, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge

Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, brings this civil action alleging violations of her civil rights. Pending before the court is plaintiff's amended complaint (Doc. 8). The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court is also required to screen complaints brought by litigants who have been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Under these screening provisions, the court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if it: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(A), (B) and 1915A(b)(1), (2). Moreover, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h), this court must dismiss an action "[w]henever it appears . . . that the court lacks jurisdiction of the subject matter . . . ." Because plaintiff, who is not a prisoner, has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, the court will screen the complaint pursuant to § 1915(e)(2). Pursuant to Rule 12(h), the court will also consider as a threshold matter whether it has subject-matter jurisdiction.


Plaintiff names the following as defendants: County of Trinity; Trinity County Sheriff's Department; Trinity County Jail; Trinity County District Attorney's Office; Royce Grossman; Eric Hereford; James Woods; and James Woodford.*fn1

Plaintiff's statement of facts is somewhat unclear. The amended complaint, which appears to be based on a copy of the original complaint with various additions and deletions, contains a heading on page 4 entitled "Statement of Facts." The specific factual allegations under this heading, however, are crossed out with a notation "Please go to page 5." At page 5 plaintiff states:

The relevant facts are in the procedural history of this case. The most important part of a search warrant is the affidavit of probable cause.

Exhibit A pages 3-6 are the facts Grossman presented to D.A. Woods, who reviewed it and with his understanding of search warrants felt confident in signing it and passed it on to Judge Edwards who in his judicial authority agreed which then gave Grossman the validation to execute. These are the same facts Hereford through his training felt were incriminating enough to prosecute.

Plaintiff knew she was innocent from the very beginning and Exhibit B pages 16-17 are verified proof of that fact.

A review of Exhibits A and B, which appear to be additional factual statements, reflects that plaintiff claims defendant Grossman obtained and executed a search warrant that was later determined not to be based on probable cause.*fn2

Next, the amended complaint contains a discussion of municipal liability.*fn3 While plaintiff correctly states that municipal liability can lie only where some governmental policy or custom is the moving force behind a constitutional violation, plaintiff does not allege any such policy or custom as to any of the municipal defendants specifically named in the amended complaint.

Next, plaintiff appears to address the issues of judicial and prosecutorial immunity raised in the court's prior screening order.*fn4 The amended complaint presents a generalized discussion of public confidence in the judicial system, but does not add any new allegations tending to indicate that the immunities discussed in the court's prior order do not apply.

Finally, the amended complaint sets forth generalized discussions relating to plaintiff's state law claims. / / /


While the allegations against Grossman as set forth in the amended complaint are not as clear as those set forth in the original complaint, the court continues to find that plaintiff states a cognizable claim against Grossman based on her allegation that the warrant was not based on probable cause. If true, plaintiff's allegations against defendant Grossman would indicate a violation of the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.

As to the municipal defendants, the amended complaint continues to suffer from the defect identified in the prior screening ...

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