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Enrique A. Monteagudo v. Lorna A. Alksne

September 6, 2011

ENRIQUE A. MONTEAGUDO,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
LORNA A. ALKSNE, IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SUPERVISING JUDGE, FAMILY COURT FOR [DOC. NO. 6] CALIFORNIA SUPERIOR COURT, SAN DIEGO COUNTY; JUDITH MCCONNELL, IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS ADMINISTRATIVE PRESIDING JUSTICE OF THE CALIFORNIA COURT OF APPEAL, FOURTH DISTRICT, DIVISION ONE; TANI GORRE CANTIL-SAKAUYE, IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge United States District Court

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS WITH PREJUDICE

Presently before the Court is Defendants Judge Lorna A. Alksne, Justice Judith McConnell, and Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint. For the reasons stated herein, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion to dismiss with prejudice.

BACKGROUND

This action arises out of Plaintiff's dissatisfaction with his state court custody proceedings. California state courts are authorized to make initial child custody and visitation determinations using the "best interest of the child" standard. See In re Marriage of Brown & Yana, 37 Cal. 4th 947, 955-56 (2006). California courts determine the "best interest of the child" by "setting the matter for an adversarial hearing and considering all relevant factors, including the child's health, safety, and welfare, any history of abuse by one parent against any child or the other parent, and the nature and amount of the child's contact with the parents." Id.

After receiving an unfavorable custody ruling in state court, Plaintiff appealed the trial court's order and argued that the court erred in failing to apply the "strict scrutiny" instead of the "best interest" standard in ruling on Plaintiff's custody request. See Enrique M. v. Angelina V., 174 Cal. App. 4th 1148, 1150-54 (2009).*fn1 Plaintiff claimed that the use of the "best interest" standard in custody proceedings rather than the "strict scrutiny" standard violated Plaintiff's fundamental right to parent his child in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See id. at 1153-54. In a partially published opinion, the California Court of Appeal rejected Plaintiff's constitutional claim and held that courts do not have to use the "strict scrutiny" standard in resolving custody related disputes between parents. Id. at 1157. Plaintiff appealed the Court of Appeal's decision, and the California Supreme Court denied his petition for review. See Enrique M. v. Angelina V., 2009 Cal. LEXIS 9118 (Cal. Aug. 26, 2009).

On May 18, 2011, Plaintiff filed the present civil rights action against Defendants Judge Lorna A. Alksne, Justice Judith McConnell, and Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. [Doc. No. 1.] Specifically, Plaintiff requests that this Court require California courts to use the "strict scrutiny" standard in making child custody determinations, and Plaintiff also requests that the state court appellate opinion of Enrique M. v. Angelina V., 174 Cal. App. 4th 1148, 1150-54 (2009) be depublished. [Compl. ¶¶ 61-63.]

LEGAL STANDARD

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in the complaint. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6); Navarro v.

Block, 250 F.3d 729, 731 (9th Cir. 2001). The court must accept all factual allegations pled in the complaint as true, and must construe them and draw all reasonable inferences from them in favor of the nonmoving party. Cahill v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). To avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, rather, it must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim has "facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, --- U.S. ---, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

However, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citation omitted). A court need not accept "legal conclusions" as true. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949.

In addition, factual allegations asserted by pro se plaintiffs, "however inartfully pleaded," are held "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519-20 (1972). Thus, where a plaintiff appears in propria persona in a civil rights case, the Court must construe the pleadings liberally and afford plaintiff any benefit of the doubt. See Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dept., 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir.1988).

Nevertheless, and in spite of the deference the court is bound to pay to any factual allegations made, it is not proper for the court to assume that "the [plaintiff] can prove facts which [he or she] has not alleged." Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). Nor must the court "accept as true allegations that contradict matters properly subject to judicial notice or by exhibit" or those which are "merely conclusory," require "unwarranted deductions" or "unreasonable inferences." Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir.) (citation omitted), amended on other grounds, 275 F.3d 1187 (9th Cir.2001); see also Ileto v. Glock Inc., 349 F.3d 1191, 1200 (9th Cir. 2003) (court need not accept as true unreasonable inferences or conclusions of law cast in the form of factual allegations).

DISCUSSION

I. Defendants' Motion to ...


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