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Perry Robert Avila v. Matthew Cate

March 24, 2011

PERRY ROBERT AVILA,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
MATTHEW CATE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL IN PART, REQUIRING DEFENDANTS TO SERVE SUPPLEMENTAL RESPONSES, AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF LEAVE TO FILE AN ADDITIONAL MOTION TO COMPEL IF NECESSARY THIRTY-DAY DEADLINE

(Doc. 20)

Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion to Compel in Part

I. Procedural History

Plaintiff Perry Robert Avila, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on May 26, 2009. This action is proceeding against Defendants Meadors, Sullivan, Jones, Gonzalez, and Peterson for violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff alleges that in 2007, prison officials at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi locked Hispanic inmates down based on race. The lock-down apparently began on December 5, 2006, following an incident at the prison and continued through an unspecified date in 2007. (Doc. 1, Comp., ¶¶1-14.)

Pursuant to the scheduling order filed on May 3, 2010, the deadline for the completion of all discovery, including filing motions to compel, was January 3, 2011. On December 30, 2010, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel responses to his requests for the production of documents, numbers 1 through 4. Defendants filed an opposition on January 7, 2011.

II. Plaintiff's Motion to Compel

A. Legal Standard

"Parties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense. . . . Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). For document production requests, responding parties must produce documents which are in their "possession, custody or control." Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(a)(1). "Property is deemed within a party's 'possession, custody, or control' if the party has actual possession, custody, or control thereof or the legal right to obtain the property on demand." Allen v. Woodford, No. CV-F-05-1104 OWW LJO, 2007 WL 309945, *2 (E.D.Cal. Jan. 30, 2007) (citing In re Bankers Trust Co., 61 F.3d 465, 469 (6th Cir. 1995)); accord Bovarie v. Schwarzenegger, No. 08cv1661 LAB (NLS), 2011 WL 719206, at *4 (S.D.Cal. Feb. 22, 2011); Evans v. Tilton, No. 1:07CV01814 DLB PC, 2010 WL 1136216, at *1 (E.D.Cal. Mar. 19, 2010).

If Defendants object to one of Plaintiff's discovery requests, it is Plaintiff's burden on his motion to compel to demonstrate why the objection is not justified. In general, Plaintiff must inform the Court which discovery requests are the subject of his motion to compel, and, for each disputed response, inform the Court why the information sought is relevant and why Defendants' objections are not meritorious.

In this instance, however, there are deficiencies with respect to Plaintiff's motion to compel and with Defendants' responses to the discovery requests. Given these deficiencies and in the interest of conservation of the Court's and the parties' resources, the Court elects to reach the merits of Plaintiff's motion to compel, to the extent it is able to do so, rather than deny the motion without prejudice to refiling.

B. Requests 1-4

Plaintiff seeks to compel responses to the following four requests for the production of documents:

Request 1: All documents that describe and refer to prison officials' decisions to place and retain California Correctional Institution, Facility 4A (CCI 4A) general population prisoners on lockdown or modified programs, including but not limited to all records of decisions reviewed, approved or disapproved by officials whose offices are located at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) main offices at Sacramento, California, or any branch office of the CDCR. Request 2: All documents that describe or refer to the CDCR and CCI 4A procedures for initiating and maintaining a lockdown or modified program, including but not limited to all documents which list the prison officials ...


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