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Michael Whitfield v. S. Downs

March 19, 2012

MICHAEL WHITFIELD,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
S. DOWNS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM RESPONSE DUE WITHIN THIRTY DAYS

Screening Order

I. Background

Plaintiff Michael Whitfield ("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. He filed his complaint on July 28, 2011.*fn1

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 or malicious," 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).

A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id.

II. Summary of Complaint

Plaintiff was incarcerated at Avenal State Prison, where the events giving rise to this action occurred.*fn2 Plaintiff names Senior Librarian S. Downs and Assistant Vice Principal J. Pehrson as Defendants.

Plaintiff alleges that on December 6, 2010, he gave Defendant Downs an original Petition for Review and a Motion for Appointment of Counsel that had to be filed with the California Supreme Court. Plaintiff also gave Defendant Downs a Request for Legal Photocopy Service and asked Defendant Downs for 17 copies of the documents. He alleges that these documents had to be filed prior to the October 29, 2010, deadline.*fn3 Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Down told him that she would not make the copies because there was not enough time. Plaintiff states that he gave her the legal documents at 8:25 a.m. and that one hour and thirty-five minutes remained of his law library time. He alleges that this was more than enough time to make the copies.

On December 8, 2010, Plaintiff gave the same documents to Defendant Pehrson and requested copies. Defendant Pehrson also refused to make the copies.

On December 8, 13 and 15, 2010, Plaintiff again asked Defendant Downs to photocopy the Petition for Review and Motion for Appointment of Counsel. He alleges that Defendant Downs refused.

Plaintiff filed numerous inmate grievances against Defendants Down and Pehrson. After the grievances were filed, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants retaliated against him by denying him physical access to the law library. Plaintiff submitted requests for interviews with Defendants but they did not respond.

Plaintiff alleges that Defendants Downs and Pehrson violated his right to access the courts pursuant to the First and Fourteenth Amendments. He contends that they knew, or should have known, that obstructing his access to the California Supreme Court and refusing to copy his documents would make him miss the deadline to timely file his documents.

He also alleges that he received "inadequate legal assistance" from Defendants based on their refusal to make copies. He further alleges that Defendants violated numerous ...


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