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Frederick Wayne Smith v. Secretary of Cdcr

April 3, 2012



Screening Order

I. Procedural History, Screening Requirement, and Standard

On May 23, 2011, Plaintiff Frederick Wayne Smith ("Plaintiff"), a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Doc. 1.

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, 556 U.S. 662, __, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)), and courts "are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences," Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949.

While prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are still entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor, the pleading standard is now higher, Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). Under § 1983, plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendantpersonally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949-50; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949-50; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

Section 1983 provides a cause of action for the violation of constitutional or other federal rights by those acting under color of state law. E.g., Patel v. Kent School Dist., 648 F.3d 965, 971 (9th Cir. 2011); Jones, 297 F.3d at 934. For eachdefendant named, plaintiff must show a causal link between the violation of his rights and an action or omission of the defendant. Iqbal,129 S. Ct. at 1949-50; Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1205-06 (9th Cir. 2011); Corales v. Bennett, 567 F.3d 554, 570 (9th Cir. 2009). There is norespondeat superior liability under § 1983, and each defendant may only be held liable for misconduct directly attributed to him or her. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949-50; Ewing v. City of Stockton, 588 F.3d 1218, 1235 (9th Cir. 2009).

II. Allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint

In Plaintiff's complaint, he names Defendants Secretary of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"); K. Harrington, Warden; Captain L.L. Woods; Lieutenant Henderson; Correctional Counselor II ("CCI") Lane; C. Wegman, Community Partnership Manager; Rabbi Menachem Gottileib, Jewish Chaplain; C/O D. Grissom; and C/O R. Orasco. Compl. at 4, Doc. 1.

Plaintiff states that all allegations in this complaint arose at Kern Valley State Prison ("KVSP"). Id. at 5.*fn1 In May 2009, Plaintiff questioned CCI Lane regarding not being able to receive Kosher meals. Id. at 10. In July 2009, Plaintiff had an appeal hearing and explained that the original Jews in Africa 2000 years ago were from Black Hebrew Israelites from Ethiopia, who were enslaved by the Egyptians. Id. Jesus (Yahawa-Shi-Christ is the King and Savior, son of the most High God, Yahawah, who is creator of heaven and earth. Id. The lineage of Mary and Joseph goes back to Judah through Solomon / Queen of Sheba and King David. Id. at 10-11. CCI Lane told Rabbi Gottileib that Plaintiff is Black Guerrilla Family ("BGF") and a Blue Note Crip ex-gang leader. Id. at 11. CCI Lane told Plaintiff to show the Rabbi his two dragon and black panther tattoos. Id. Plaintiff explained that the tattoo means Jesus, son of the panther, and Revelation refers to Jesus as the lion of the tribe of Judah. Id. The Rabbi stated that if Plaintiff was a real Jew, he would not believe in Jesus. Id. The Rabbi conspired with CCI Lane to deny Plaintiff's kosher meals due to Plaintiff being a gang member. Id. at 12.

On April 4, 2005, a correction was done pursuant to Plaintiff's gang; he is a former member of "East Side Crips." Id. at 14. On January 20, 2009, there was a riot and Plaintiff did not participate in the riot, which is a violation of life in prison and as an active gang member. Id. In the later part of 2009, alleged Crip on Crip assaults took place. Id. at 15. The Crips were upset that inmate Cooks was allowed to come out but Plaintiff was not. Id. at 15-16. The Crips did not want to talk with inmate Cooks, they would only talk with Plaintiff. Id. at 16. Captain Wood[s]*fn2 said he was receiving a lot of complaints about Plaintiff not being able to come out and represent the Crips. Id. at 17. Plaintiff was not coming out because his life was in danger and the Blood gang members and Muslims wanted Plaintiff stabbed. Id. Captain Wood asked Plaintiff if he wanted to go to the A or B yard and Plaintiff said yes. Id. at 18. Captain Wood said he would be moving Plaintiff to the A or B yard because he felt Plaintiff's life was in danger. Captain Wood asked Plaintiff if he wanted to go to the A or B yard and Plaintiff said yes. Id. In March or April 2010, Plaintiff reported to Lt. Henderson, who asked Plaintiff if he thought it was ok to let the Crips come off lockdown. Id. at 15. Lt. Henderson told Plaintiff to walk through the general population and talk with the Crips to see the status quo. Id. Plaintiff walked through the units and reported back to Lt. Henderson that the word was the fighting was over. Id.

On May 27, 2010, Plaintiff was called to report to the law library. Id. at 12. Around 12:30 p.m., Plaintiff arrived and was searched by two officers using a pat-down search and the metal detector. Id. Plaintiff asked C/O Grissom why Plaintiff and other inmates were being searched. Id. C/O Grissom stated that staff think Plaintiff is going to get stabbed today and that is why inmates are being searched and why they changed to route to get to the library. Id. C/O Grissom also stated that staff had information that Plaintiff and inmate Cooks were in a dispute due to religion and MAC politics. Id. at 13. C/O Grissom also stated that staff found notes from inmates of a possible "hit" on Plaintiff. Id. At 13:30 hours, Plaintiff was stabbed 16-20 times with an ice pick and flat metal weapon by two inmates. Id. No investigation of other weapons; no suspect; and Plaintiff was pepper sprayed for no reason, which caused him to be stabbed in the lower eye. Id. At 1:30 a.m., Plaintiff was served with a lock-up order, placing him in administrative segregation. Id. at 13-14. At this point, Plaintiff became aware that inmate Cooks was suspected of stabbing Plaintiff and that there was only one suspect and one weapon. Id. at 14. On May 28, 2010, Captain Wood said he was sorry Plaintiff got stabbed and that he did not move Plaintiff because he did not believe Plaintiff was in danger. Id. at 19. On June 1, 2010, Lt. Henderson said the word was Plaintiff was stabbed for being a Jew, but Lt. Henderson believed Plaintiff was stabbed for telling inmates that inmate Cooks was an informer. Id.

Plaintiff alleges failure to protect, conspiracy, and violations of due process, free exercise, and access to courts. Id. at 23-24, 26, 28. For relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages of $50,000 for each defendant and punitive damages according to proof. Id. at 27.

III. Legal Standard and Analysis for Plaintiff's Claims

A. First Amendment Right to Free Exercise of Religion

The protection of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment is triggered when prison officials substantially burden the practice of an inmate's religion by preventing him from engaging in conduct which he sincerely believes is consistent with his faith, Shakur v. Schriro, 514 F.3d 878, 884-85 (9th Cir. 2008), while Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 ("RLUIPA") prohibits prison officials from substantially burdening a prisoner's religious exercise unless the burden furthers a ...

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