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James D. Gordon v. David S. Wooten

March 20, 2012

JAMES D. GORDON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
DAVID S. WOOTEN,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS THAT PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT BE DISMISSED OBJECTIONS DUE: 30 DAYS

I. INTRODUCTION

On January 3, 2012, Plaintiff Jason D. Gordon ("Plaintiff") filed this action against Defendant David S. Wooten ("Defendant" or "Commissioner Wooten"), "individually and in his official capacity as the Commissioner of the Traffic Department in Tulare County." (Doc. 1, p. 1.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court RECOMMENDS that Plaintiff's complaint be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff brings this complaint pursuant to Title 42 Section 1983 for purported violations of the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. (Doc. 1, pp. 1-2.) Plaintiff alleges that there were three traffic court cases in which Plaintiff appeared before Defendant in his capacity as a Traffic Commissioner for the Superior Court of the County of Tulare. (Doc. 1, p. 2.) Plaintiff states that case no. PTR512474 was heard on April 7, 2010, and resulted in a fine of $553; case no. VTR553061 was heard on December 2, 2010, and resulted in a fine of $335, which was eventually reduced to $252 based on Plaintiff's "Motion to Vacate"; and case no. VTR593652 was heard on June 30, 2011, and resulted in a fine of $556. It also appears that at least one of the cases resulted in a sentence of community service, but Plaintiff does not clearly allege the facts surrounding that sentence. (See Doc. 1, p. 4.)

Plaintiff alleges that in case no. PTR512474, Commissioner Wooten improperly convicted Plaintiff of traveling 95 miles per hour "when the only legitimate evidence was the radar [c]lock [indicating a speed] of 82 [miles per hour]." (Doc. 1, p. 3.) Plaintiff further alleges that Commissioner Wooten "overstepp[ed]" his authority by "unlawfully" charging Plaintiff with a second offense related to a ticket Plaintiff received in Los Angeles County two years prior, when "no evidence of that conviction [had been] introduced by the [ticketing police] officer." (Doc. 1, p. 3.)

In case no. VTR553061, Plaintiff alleges that Commissioner Wooten found Plaintiff "guilty for something there isn't any law against doing" -- specifically driving his motorcycle at a slow speed with the front tire one foot off the ground. (Doc. 1, p. 3.) Plaintiff also contends that Commissioner Wooten failed to comply with the "45 day speedy trial law," failed to explain to Plaintiff why he was found guilty, overcharged the amount of the fine levied, and improperly charged Plaintiff for a second offense. (Doc. 1, p. 3.) Plaintiff filed a "Motion to Vacate" contending that evidence of a prior conviction had not been properly introduced. (Doc. 1, p. 3.) Commissioner Wooten granted Plaintiff's Motion to Vacate and reduced Plaintiff's fine from $335 to $252. (Doc. 1, p. 3.)

Plaintiff alleges that he appealed at least one of Commissioner Wooten's decisions in these cases to Superior Court Judge Gary L. Paden, who did not allow Plaintiff sufficient time to present his case, accepted the prosecutor's untimely response, "ignored" Plaintiff, and was "extremely rude" and "talked down" to Plaintiff. Plaintiff does not indicate the result of his appeal.

Plaintiff implies that, due to the appeal and the prior cases, "Commissioner Wooten [was] well aware that he [was] unlawfully charging ALL the citizens of Tulare County, which have prior traffic citation convictions in the last 3 years, more than the law allows." (Doc. 1, p. 4.) Nonetheless, in case no. VTR593652, Plaintiff alleges that Commissioner Wooten "ignored the rules of the court twice" by convicting Plaintiff of the wrong violation (which Plaintiff admits he "didn't fight" in court) and by overcharging Plaintiff again with a fine of $323. (Doc. 1, p. 4.)

Plaintiff asserts that he was "mistreat[ed]" as a "citizen of the United States" and that he "felt it was time to make a stand and do something about a rouge Commissioner" who "must be held accountable for his actions." (Doc. 1, p. 4, 5.) Plaintiff contends that Commissioner Wooten is "becoming a prosecutor" and cannot "possibly be unbiased if he himself is introducing evidence." (Doc. 1, p. 5.) Plaintiff's prayer for relief seeks (1) injunctive relief removing Commissioner Wooten from his duties; (2) declaratory relief as the Court deems just; (3) other relief as the Court deems just; (4) to award Plaintiff relief from the "tainted" traffic convictions, remove all trace of the convictions, and refund the "illegally garnered fines" in the amount of $1.361; (5) to, "[a]t a bare minimum," award Plaintiff new trials for the convicted tickets; and (6) to place a hold on case no. VTR593652 in the Superior Court of the County of Tulare. (Doc. 1, p. 6.)

III. DISCUSSION

A. Screening Requirement

In cases where the plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court is required to screen each case and shall dismiss the case at any time if the Court determines that the allegation of poverty is untrue or the action or appeal is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915(e)(2). If the Court determines that the complaint fails to state a claim, leave to amend may be granted to the ...


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