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Ronnell Hill v. F. Gonzales

February 27, 2012

RONNELL HILL,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
F. GONZALES, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael J. Seng United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF NO. 1)

AMENDED COMPLAINT DUE WITHIN THIRTY DAYS

Plaintiff Ronnell Hill ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. On July 8, 2011, Plaintiff consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. (ECF No. 5.)

Plaintiff initiated this action on June 28, 2011. (Compl., ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff's Complaint is now before the Court for screening. No other parties have appeared in this action. The Court finds that Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a claim. Plaintiff will be given leave to amend.

I. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

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, malicious," or 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).

Section 1983 "provides a cause of action for the 'deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws' of the United States." Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393--94 (1989).

II. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at High Desert State Prison. It appears that he was previously incarcerated at California Correctional Institution at Tehachapi, California ("CCI"). (Compl. at 1.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his rights under the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. However, his pleading actually reflects a potential claim that Defendants violated his First Amendment right to petition the courts by frustrating his efforts to continue litigating his petition for habeas corpus. Plaintiff names the following individuals as Defendants: 1) F. Gonzalez, warden at CCI, and 2) T. Peterson, correctional officer and law librarian at CCI. Plaintiff seeks to sue Defendants in their individual capacities.

Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages in the amount of $25,000 and $100,000 in punitive damages against each Defendant.

Plaintiff's claims in this case relate to proceedings in Hill v. V.M. Almager, N.D. Cal. 3:07-cv-3229-JSW, a habeas corpus action in which Plaintiff challenged the conditions of his confinement. This habeas corpus petition was denied on July 7, 2010, and the court denied Plaintiff a certificate of appealability. Within thirty days of entry of that order, Plaintiff was to file his notice of appeal if he intended to appeal the decision.

Plaintiff alleges as follows:

On June 20, 2010, Plaintiff received legal mail, informing him that his habeas corpus petition had been denied on July 7, 2010 and that his only recourse was to file an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals within thirty days of entry of the order denying his petition. (Compl. at 3.) At the time, Plaintiff did not have any of his legal property or access to the law library. (Id.)

Plaintiff made a request for priority library user ("PLU") law library access on July 21, 2010, which was denied. (Compl. at 3-4.) According to institutional procedure, an inmate must have a "deadline established by a court, statute, or rules of court." (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff sent Defendant Peterson the actual court document that he received regarding his habeas corpus petition showing the court deadline for filing an appeal. (Id.) It was determined that Plaintiff did not have a deadline, and his request was denied. (Id.) Defendant Peterson, the legal librarian, presumably is aware of this rule. (Id.) By denying Plaintiff PLU law library access, Defendant Peterson herself terminated Plaintiff's appeal and denied him his right to due process and access to the courts. (Id.) In addition, ...


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