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Douglas William Hysell v. Arnold Schwarzenegger

July 6, 2011

DOUGLAS WILLIAM HYSELL,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



(ECF No. 1)

COMPLAINT DISMISSED WITH LEAVE TO AMEND AMENDED COMPLAINT DUE WITHIN / THIRTY DAYS SCREENING ORDER

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff Douglas William Hysell ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed this action on July 8, 2010. (ECF No. 1.) No other parties have appeared.

Plaintiff's Complaint is now before the Court for screening. For the reasons stated below, the Court finds that Plaintiff has not stated a claim upon which relief may be granted.

II. SCREENING REQUIREMENTS

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 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). "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.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.

III. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

Plaintiff makes numerous allegations of constitutional violations including, but not limited to: being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment and receiving inadequate healthcare, both in violation of the Eighth Amendment; denial of access to the courts; denial of right to practice chosen religion; due process violations; property violations; equal protection violations; etc. Plaintiff also makes claims under 18 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq. and 18 U.S.C. § 4. Plaintiff lists the following individuals as Defendants: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Brown, Jr., Fred Aguiar, John Chiamg, Michael A. Ramos, Julie Nauman, Debra Bowen, Mathew Cate, Scott Kernan, Nola Grannis, M. Hodges Wilkins, J. A. Herrera, James Yates, Christine Hudson Huckabay, P. D. Brazelton, E. H. Beels, Dana Allen, Darrin V. Huckabay, Nathaniel Greens, James Wooded, G. Phelan, James Buttle, Paul Soares, Jose Andrade, Alfonso Santos, Michael Steele, Roberto Rodriguez, Mary Gellerson, November L. Erickson, Wendy K. Myers, Jerry Herman, Katheryn Mitchell, William H. Stephens, Marin County Risk Manager, Does 1 through 100, the State of California, County of Marin, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and Pleasant Valley State Prison.

The Court is unable to determine where or when many of the complained of events occurred as Plaintiff's Complaint is more of a list of complaints than a description of certain events or incidents attributed to specific Defendants. It appears that the incidents discussed herein primarily occurred at either Mule Creek State Prison or Pleasant Valley State Prison.

Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages and injunctive relief.

IV. ANALYSIS

The Civil Rights Act under which this action was filed provides:

Every person who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution . . . shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. "Section 1983 . . . creates a cause of action for violations of the federal Constitution and laws." Sweaney v. Ada County, Idaho, 119 F.3d 1385, 1391 (9th Cir. 1997) (internal quotations omitted).

A. Due Process

At several junctures in the Complaint, Plaintiff appears to be alleging that his right to due process was violated. Plaintiff refers to sham hearings where he was not allowed due process, the taking of property without due process, and his placement in administrative segregation ("ad-seg"), among other claims.

1. Hearings

The Due Process Clause protects prisoners from being deprived of liberty without due process of law. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556 (1974). In order to state a cause of action for deprivation of due process, a plaintiff must first establish the existence of a liberty interest for which the protection is sought. Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 221 (2005). "States may under certain circumstances create liberty interests which are protected by the Due Process Clause." Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 483-84 (1995). Liberty interests created by state law are generally limited to freedom from restraint which "imposes atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life." Id. at 484.

"Prison disciplinary proceedings are not part of a criminal prosecution, and the full panoply of rights due a defendant in such proceedings does not apply." Wolff, 418 U.S. at 556. With respect to prison disciplinary proceedings, the minimum procedural requirements that must be met are: (1) written notice of the charges; (2) at least 24 hours between the time the prisoner receives written notice and the time of the hearing, so that the prisoner may prepare his defense; (3) a written statement by the fact finders of the evidence they rely on and reasons for taking disciplinary action; (4) the right of the prisoner to call witnesses and present documentary evidence in his defense, when permitting him to do so would not be unduly hazardous to institutional safety or correctional goals; and (5) legal assistance to the prisoner where the prisoner is illiterate or the issues presented are legally complex. Id. at 563-71. As long as the five minimum Wolff requirements are met, due process has been satisfied. Walker v. Sumner, 14 F.3d 1415, 1420 (9th Cir. 1994).

"When prison officials limit a prisoner's right to defend himself they must have a legitimate penological interest." Koenig v. Vannelli, 971 F.2d 422, 423 (9th Cir. 1992) (per curiam) (concluding that prisoners do not have a right to have an independent drug test performed at their own expense). The right to call witnesses may legitimately be limited by "the penological need to provide swift discipline in individual cases . . . [or] by the very real dangers in prison life which may result from violence or intimidation directed at either other inmates or staff." Ponte v. Real, 471 U.S. 491, 495 (1985); see also Mitchell v. Dupnik, 75 F.3d 517, 525 (9th Cir. 1996); Koenig, 971 F.2d at 423; Zimmerlee v. Keeney, 831 F.2d 183, 187-88 (9th Cir. 1987) (per curiam).

"[T]he requirements of due process are satisfied if 'some evidence' supports the decision of the hearing officer or the prison disciplinary board." Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455 (1985); see also Touissaint v. McCarthy, 926 F.2d 800, 802-03 (9th Cir. 1991); Bostic v. Carlson, 884 F.2d 1267, 1269-70 (9th Cir. 1989); Jancsek, III v. Oregon bd. Of Parole, 833 F.2d 1389, 1390 (9th Cir. 1987); Cato v. Rushen, 824 F.2d 703, 705 (9th Cir. 1987); see especially Burnsworth v. Gunderson, 179 F.3d 771, 774-74 (9th Cir. 1999) (where there is no evidence of guilt it may be unnecessary to demonstrate existence of liberty interest.). This standard is not particularly stringent and the relevant inquiry is whether "there is any evidence in the record that could support the conclusion reached . . . ." Hill, 472 U.S. at 455-56.

Plaintiff alleges that he was not allowed to call witnesses or present defenses, that the officials conducting the hearings were biased, and that the hearings were shams. However, Plaintiff fails to state any due process claim. Plaintiff does not state any facts surrounding the hearings other than that they were held and that he was found guilty. He does not state what he was charged with, if he received notice, when any of the incidents occurred, etc. Further, Plaintiff does not attribute most of the due process violations to any named Defendants.

In one instance, Plaintiff states that Defendant Steele presided over one of the hearings and further alleges that Steele had a conflict of interest because he was Defendant Erickson's ex-husband. Plaintiff fails to explain this statement at all. Further, he does not describe the hearing or events leading up to the hearing.

Plaintiff's conclusory allegations, without more, are insufficient to support a claim of denial of procedural due process. The Court will grant Plaintiff leave to amend this claim.

2. Property

Plaintiff alleges several instances of deprivation, confiscation, and damage to his property as a violation of his due process rights. The Due Process Clause protects prisoners from being deprived of property without due process of law, Wolff, 418 U.S. at 556, and prisoners have a protected interest in their personal property, Hansen v. May, 502 F.2d 728, 730 (9th Cir. 1974). However, while an authorized, intentional deprivation of 6 property is actionable under the Due Process Clause, Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 532 n.13 (1984) (citing Logan v. Zimmerman Brush Co., 455 U.S. 422, 435-36 (1982)); Quick v. Jones, 754 F.2d 1521, 1524 (9th Cir. 1985), neither negligent nor unauthorized intentional deprivations of property by a state employee "constitute a violation of the procedural requirements of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment if a meaningful post-deprivation remedy for the loss is available," Hudson, 468 U.S. at 533.

California Law provides an adequate post-deprivation remedy for any property deprivations. See Cal. Gov't Code §§ 895; Barnett v. Centoni, 31 F.3d 813, 816-17 (9th Cir. 1994). California's Tort Claims Act requires that a tort claim against a public entity or its employees be presented to the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board, formerly known as the State Board of Control, no more than six months after the cause of action accrues. Cal. Gov't Code §§ 905.2, 910, 911.2, 945.4, 950-950.2 (West 2006). Presentation of a written claim, and action on or rejection of the claim, are conditions precedent to suit. State v. Superior Court of Kings County (Bodde), 90 P.3d 116, 123 (2004); Mangold v. California Pub. Utils. Comm'n, 67 F.3d 1470, 1477 (9th Cir. 1995). To state a tort claim against a public employee, a plaintiff must allege compliance with the Tort Claims Act. State v. Superior Court, 90 P.3d at 123; Mangold, 67 F.3d at 1477; Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dept., 839 F.2d 621, 627 (9th Cir. 1988).

Plaintiff claims that his property was confiscated, damaged, and/or destroyed. He states nothing about what was taken or for how long, or what damage was caused. He also fails to attribute these actions to specific Defendants. Moreover, Plaintiff has failed to offer proof of compliance with the California Tort Claims Act. Plaintiff states several times that he has made claims with the Board. However, it is not clear what this Board is or if it's related to Plaintiff's property claims. Thus, Plaintiff has failed to allege facts sufficient to find a violation of his due process rights in relation to property. The Court will grant Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint on this claim.

3. Administrative Segregation

Plaintiff appears to allege that he was wrongfully placed in administrative segregation and that ...


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