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C.D. Alston v. City of Sacramento

March 8, 2012

C.D. ALSTON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF SACRAMENTO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction. For the reasons that follow, the motion is DENIED and this case is DISMISSED.

BACKGROUND

On March 7, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Petition of Removal of Criminal Prosecution to the District Court [ECF No. 1].

In her Petition, Plaintiff seeks to have her pending criminal prosecution for a violation of California Penal Code § 69 removed from the California Superior Court to this Court on the basis of the Sacramento City Police Department's alleged violations of her rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.*fn1 In her Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction, Plaintiff seeks an order from this Court enjoining the State of California from taking her into custody at a hearing for the violation of California Penal Code § 69 that is apparently scheduled for March 9, 2012 [ECF No 2]. In essence, Plaintiff contends that the Sacramento Police Department has, without any cause, targeted her for multiple unconstitutional investigations, detentions and arrests.

On March 8, 2012, the magistrate judge filed Findings and Recommendations. [ECF. No. 3]. The magistrate judge found that Plaintiff had failed to allege any proper basis for federal subject matter jurisdiction and therefore Plaintiff had no likelihood of success on the merits, so a temporary restraining order was therefore not warranted.

The magistrate judge recommended that this Court (1) deny Plaintiff's Petition and remand to the Superior Court; and (2) deny the motion for a temporary restraining order.

ANALYSIS

In accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C) and Local Rule 72-304, this Court has conducted a de novo review of this case. While this Court is in accord with the magistrate judge's findings that there is no basis for federal subject matter jurisdiction and therefore Plaintiff had no likelihood of success on the merits of her motion for a temporary restraining order, the Court does not adopt the magistrate judge's recommendations in full because the Court finds on the basis of Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971) and its progeny that dismissal of Plaintiff's action is warranted.

Specifically, absent extraordinary circumstances, not present here, federal courts should abstain from enjoining ongoing state court proceedings. See Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). In Younger, the Supreme Court "'espouse[d] a strong federal policy against federal-court interference with pending state judicial proceedings.'" H.C. v. Koppel, 203 F.3d 610, 613 (9th Cir. 2000) (quoting Middlesex County Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 431, (1982)). The "principles of equity, comity, and federalism . . . must restrain a federal court when asked to enjoin a state court proceeding." Mitchum v. Foster, 407 U.S. 225, 243 (1972).

Under Younger, a federal court must abstain if four requirements are met: (1) a state-initiated proceeding is ongoing; (2) the proceeding implicates important state interests; (3) the federal plaintiff is not barred from litigating federal constitutional issues in the state proceeding; and (4) the federal court action would enjoin the proceeding or have the practical effect of doing so, i.e., would interfere with the state proceeding in a way that Younger disapproves.

San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce Political Action Comm. v. City of San Jose, 546 F.3d 1087, 1091-92 (9th Cir. 2008).

Here, the first criteria is met because the California action is pending: according to Plaintiff's brief, she has a hearing scheduled for March 9, 2012. The second criteria is met because of the state's important interest in prosecuting individuals charged with violating California Penal Code § 69. Younger held that interference with a state criminal prosecution would disrupt the exercise of a basic state function, "prohibiting the State from carrying out the important and necessary task of enforcing these laws against socially harmful conduct that the State believes in good faith to be punishable under its law and Constitution." Younger, 401 U.S. at 51-52. Thus, a criminal prosecution implicates important state interests.

The third criteria is satisfied because Plaintiff has not presented any argument demonstrating why the California court would not provide her with an adequate ...


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