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Francisco Uriarte v. Arnold Schwarzenegger

September 29, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Michael M. Anello United States District Judge


[Doc. No. 180]

On August 26, 2010, Francisco Uriarte ("Plaintiff"), a prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis ("IFP") filed a second amended complaint ("SAC") alleging civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc No. 146). On January 4, 2011, Plaintiff filed a "Motion to Compel Defendants' for Production of Documents, Set One and Set Two." (Doc. No. 180). Plaintiff's motion encompasses two separate sets of requests for discovery. On January 18, 2011, Defendants filed an Opposition to the Motion to Compel. (Doc. No. 184). For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Plaintiff's motion.*fn1


The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure generally allow for broad discovery, authorizing parties to obtain discovery regarding "any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Also, "[f]or good cause, the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action." Id. Relevant information for discovery purposes includes any information "reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence," and need not be admissible at trial to be discoverable. Id. There is no requirement that the information sought directly relate to a particular issue in the case. Rather, relevance encompasses any matter that "bears on" or could reasonably lead to matter that could bear on, any issue that is or may be presented in the case. Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 354 (1978). District courts have broad discretion to determine relevancy for discovery purposes. See Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 751 (9th Cir. 2002). Similarly, district courts have broad discretion to limit discovery where the discovery sought is "unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(C). Limits also should be imposed where the burden or expense outweighs the likely benefits. Id.

Similarly, a party may request the production of any document within the scope of Rule 26(b). Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(a). "For each item or category, the response must either state that inspection and related activities will be permitted as requested or state an objection to the request, including the reasons." Id. at 34(b). The responding party is responsible for all items in "the responding party's possession, custody, or control." Id. at 34(a)(1). Actual possession, custody or control is not required. Rather, "[a] party may be ordered to produce a document in the possession of a non-party entity if that party has a legal right to obtain the document or has control over the entity who is in possession of the document. Soto v. City of Concord, 162 F.R.D. 603, 620 (N.D.Cal.1995).


At the outset, the Court notes that Defendants primarily object to Plaintiff's requests because they are untimely. (Def. Opp. at 3). Discovery in this case has been piecemeal and is in need of strict management. A review of the discovery disputes in this case shows both parties allege improper conduct in the form of procedural irregularities against the other. Rather than address these allegations, the Court will focus its attention on the substantive discovery disputes to insure the case is ultimately resolved on the merits and not on procedural technicalities.

A. Plaintiff's Request for Government Personnel Files

Plaintiff's Request Nos. (Set No. One) 1, 3, 8, 10, 11, 21, 23 seek information of prior misconduct that may be contained in the personnel records of Defendant Jenkins, Defendant Ritter, Defendant Camacho, Defendant Reed, Defendant Williams, Defendant Martinez, Defendant Spence, Defendant Hurm, Defendant Jones and Defendant Ramirez.

Specifically, Plaintiff requests that Defendants provide Plaintiff with any and all grievances filed against Defendants Jenkins, Ritter, Camacho, Reed, William, Spence, Jones, Ramirez and Martinez. Defendants do not specifically address any of Plaintiff's numbered requests for production but object on the grounds of untimeliness, relevance, and privilege. Each of these objections will be addressed in turn.

(i) Untimeliness

As stated above, based upon the irregular discovery schedule to date, the Court declines to deny Plaintiff's request for discovery as untimely. Therefore, Defendants' objection to ...

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