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Garrison S. Johnson v. John Dovey

November 7, 2011

GARRISON S. JOHNSON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN DOVEY, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER STRIKING CDCR'S RESPONSE (DOC. 143)

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION (DOC. 130)

CDCR'S RESPONSE DUE WITHIN FORTY- FIVE DAYS

I. Background

Plaintiff Garrison S. Johnson ("Plaintiff") is a prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"). Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action is proceeding against Defendants Dunnahoe, V. Ybarra, Cunningham, Medrano, Holguin, Valasquez, G. Ybarra, Curliss, J. Gonzales, and K. Powell on claims of excessive force, inhumane conditions of confinement, retaliation, and state law claims.

On March 10, 2011, the Court directed the United States Marshal to serve subpoenas duces tecum on CDCR and Matthew Stainer, acting warden of California Correctional Institution, where the events giving rise to this action occurred. CDCR and Mr. Stainer were to respond to the subpoenas. On May 26, 2011, Plaintiff filed a motion for contempt citation, sanction, and other relief against non-parties Matthew Cate and Michael Stainer with regards to a subpoena duces tecum. Doc. 130. The motion is construed as a motion to compel pursuant to Rule 45 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

On May 31, 2011, CDCR filed its response to the motion. Doc. 131. CDCR contends that it served objections to Plaintiff's subpoenas. On June 6, 2011, the Court ordered Plaintiff to supplement his motion by submitting CDCR's objections. Doc. 133. On June 21, 2011, Plaintiff filed his response. Doc. 134. Plaintiff contends that he did not receive any written responses to the subpoenas from CDCR, and would thus be unable to comply with the Court's June 6, 2011 Order. On August 4, 2011, the Court ordered CDCR to respond to Plaintiff's response. Doc. 137.

On August 19, 2011, CDCR filed its response. Doc. 139. CDCR contends that it did respond to Plaintiff by filing the response via the Case Management/Electronic Case Filing ("CM/ECF") system, even though Plaintiff cannot be served by CM/ECF and must be served by mail. See L.R. 135(b). Despite the erroneous understanding, CDCR eventually served its response to Plaintiff's subpoena.

On September 2, 2011, Plaintiff supplemented his May 26, 2011 motion to compel. Doc. 140. On September 28, 2011, CDCR filed its response, construed as an opposition. Doc. 141. On October 12, 2011, Plaintiff filed his reply. Doc. 142. The matter is submitted pursuant to Local Rule 230(l).*fn1

II. Motion To Compel

Plaintiff contends that CDCR's arguments regarding privilege, safety and security concerns, and Eleventh Amendment immunity are without merit. Plaintiff has explained the relevance of his requests in prior motions. Docs. 115, 130.

A. Eleventh Amendment

CDCR contends that it is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity, and thus is not subject to a federal subpoena here. Arica Byant-Presinal Decl., Ex. A, Doc. 139. CDCR cites to Estate of Gonzalez v. Hickman, 466 F. Supp. 2d 1226, 1227 (E.D. Cal. 2006), which states without explanation that the Eleventh Amendment precludes plaintiffs from compelling the State to produce requested discovery. Id. Plaintiff contends only that CDCR is in possession of these documents and is required to produce them. Pl.'s Mot. 2, Doc. 140.

CDCR's citation is unpersuasive. Estate of Gonzalez is the only case in the Eastern District of California to conclude that Eleventh Amendment immunity renders the State and its agencies immune from a federal court's jurisdiction via subpoena. That case provides no explanation as to how Eleventh Amendment immunity applies in such a manner. Another published decision from the Eastern District of California provides a detailed ...


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