UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
July 25, 2011
RELMON DAVIS III, CDCR # F-24440
L.S. MCEWEN; DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Barry Ted Moskowitz United States District Judge
(1) GRANTING MOTION TO
PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS,
[ECF No. 2];
JUDICIAL COUNCIL; (2) DISMISSING ACTION SUPERIOR COURT
O.C., PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(B) & 1915A(b)
Plaintiff, a state inmate currently incarcerated at Calipatria State Prison and proceeding pro se, has filed a civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In addition, Plaintiff has filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a).
I. MOTION TO PROCEED IFP
All parties instituting any civil action, suit or proceeding in a district court of the United States, except an application for writ of habeas corpus, must pay a filing fee of $350. See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). An action may proceed despite a party's failure to pay only if the party is granted leave to proceed IFP pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Prisoners granted leave to proceed IFP however, remain obligated to pay the entire fee in installments, regardless of whether the action is ultimately dismissed for any reason. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) & (2).
The Court finds that Plaintiff has submitted an affidavit which complies with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), and that he has attached a certified copy of his trust account statement pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2) and S.D. CAL. CIVLR 3.2. Plaintiff's trust account statement shows that he has insufficient funds from which to pay an initial partial filing fee.
Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP [ECF No. 2] and assesses no initial partial filing fee per 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).
II. SCREENING PURSUANT TO 28U.S.C.§§1915(e)(2)&1915A(b)
The Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA")'s amendments to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 also obligate the Court to review complaints filed by all persons proceeding IFP and by those, like Plaintiff, who are "incarcerated or detained in any facility [and] accused of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms or conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary program," "as soon as practicable after docketing." See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b). Under these provisions, the Court must sua sponte dismiss any prisoner civil action and all other IFP complaints, or any portions thereof, which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or which seek damages from defendants who are immune. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A.
In his Complaint, while not entirely clear, Plaintiff appears to seek to hold liable the California Judicial Council and the Orange County Superior Court for denying his Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. (See Compl. at 3.) However, neither of these Defendants are proper parties pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and must be dismissed. See Wolfe v. Strankman, 392 F.3d 358, 364 (9th Cir. 2004). The Judicial Council is an agency of the State of California. Id. As an agency of the State of California, the Judicial Council is not a "person" subject to suit and is instead, entitled to absolute immunity from monetary damages actions under the Eleventh Amendment. See Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 53-54 (1996)
As for Plaintiff's attempts to name the Superior Court as a Defendant, these claims must also be dismissed. The Rooker-Feldman doctrine provides that "'a losing party in state court is barred from seeking what in substance would be appellate review of the state judgment in a United States District Court, based on the losing party's claim that the state judgment itself violates the loser's federal rights.'" Doe v. Mann, 415 F.3d 1038, 1041 (9th Cir. 2005) (quoting Johnson v. De Grandy, 512 U.S. 997, 1005-06 (1994)), cert. denied, 119 S.Ct. 868 (1999). Here, Plaintiff appears to be seeking, through this civil rights action, a reversal of the Superior Court's decision to deny his habeas corpus petition. The Court will not convert the present action into a habeas petition due to the implications of the abuse of the writ doctrine. See Blueford v. Prunty, 108 F.3d 251, 255 (9th Cir. 1997)
Finally, Plaintiff names the Warden for Calipatria State Prison but it is not clear what allegations Plaintiff is making against this Defendant. "T]he inquiry into causation must be individualized and focus on the duties and responsibilities of each individual defendant whose acts or omissions are alleged to have caused a constitutional deprivation." Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 633 (9th Cir. 1988) (citing Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 370-71 (1976)). Plaintiff must allege personal acts by each individual Defendant which have a direct causal connection to the constitutional violation at issue. See Sanders v. Kennedy, 794 F.2d 478, 483 (9th Cir. 1986). Here, there do not appear to be any factual allegations against Defendant McEwen that relate to an alleged constitutional violation.
III. CONCLUSION AND ORDER
Good cause appearing,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
1. Plaintiff's Motion to proceed IFP pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) [ECF No. 2] is GRANTED.
2. The Secretary of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, or his designee, shall collect from Plaintiff's prison trust account the $350 balance of the filing fee owed in this case by collecting monthly payments from the account in an amount equal to twenty percent (20%) of the preceding month's income and forward payments to the Clerk of the Court each time the amount in the account exceeds $10 in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). ALL PAYMENTS SHALL BE CLEARLY IDENTIFIED BY THE NAME AND NUMBER ASSIGNED TO THIS ACTION.
3. The Clerk of the Court is directed to serve a copy of this Order on Matthew Cate, Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 1515 S Street, Suite 502, Sacramento, California 95814.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that:
4. Plaintiff's Complaint is DISMISSED without prejudice for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and for seeking monetary damages against immune defendants. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(b) & 1915A(b). However, Plaintiff is GRANTED forty five (45) days leave from the date this Order is "Filed" in which to file a First Amended Complaint which cures all the deficiencies of pleading noted above. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint must be complete in itself without reference to the superseded pleading. See S. D.CAL. CIVLR. 15.1. Defendants not named and all claims not re-alleged in the Amended Complaint will be deemed to have been waived. See King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987).
5. The Clerk of the Court is directed to mail a form civil rights Complaint to Plaintiff.
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