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Jeremy Robert Christensen v. Arnold Schwarzenegger

June 27, 2011

JEREMY ROBERT CHRISTENSEN,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael J. Seng United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING PLAINTIFF'S CLAIM WITH LEAVE TO AMEND FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM (ECF No. 1) THIRTY DAY OBJECTION DEADLINE SCREENING ORDER

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On October 13, 2009, Plaintiff Jeremy Robert Christensen, a former state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff has consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. (ECF No. 4). Plaintiff's Complaint is before the Court for screening.

II. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

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 a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous, malicious," or 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). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Id. Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 1949-50.

III. PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS

Section 1983 "provides a cause of action for the 'deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws' of the United States." Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989).

To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Ketchum v. Alameda Cnty., 811 F.2d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 1987).

The Complaint identifies Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor, State of California and Matthew Cate, Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as defendants in this action. The events that gave rise to this Complaint took place at Avenal State Prison.

Plaintiff alleges the following:

He was The Sacred Cauldron Coven Manager for the Wiccan group that was operating in Avenal as a charter of the Wiccan Church of America. (Compl. at 57, 58). Plaintiff sought to have an area at Avenal designated as a religious space that could accommodate Wiccan worship services. (Compl. at 3). Plaintiff and the Wiccan community were denied access to the Facility Chapel and required to worship on the yard, approximately the size of a baseball field, with fourteen-hundred inmates using the area simultaneously for outdoor time. (Compl. at 7). Prison officials were "not able to provide the [Wiccan] Community its own separate spiritual grounds based on several factors that include[d] but [were] not limited to [1] institutional safety and security, [2] [Avenal]'s grounds/property limitations, and [3] departmental fiscal/budgetary constraints." (Compl. at 21). The Complaint alleges that Defendants have violated his First Amendment right to religious exercise by failing to create a Wiccan appropriate religious space.

A. Section 1983 Linkage Requirement

Under § 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. ...


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