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Daniel Jester v. Vimal J. Singh

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


April 25, 2012

DANIEL JESTER,
PETITIONER,
v.
VIMAL J. SINGH, WARDEN (A),
RESPONDENT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles F. Eick United States Magistrate Judge

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

This Report and Recommendation is submitted to the Honorable Josephine Staton Tucker, United States District Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 636 and General Order 05-07 of the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

INTRODUCTION

Petitioner filed a "Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus By a Person in State Custody" on April 13, 2012. It plainly appears from the face of the Petition that Petitioner is not entitled to habeas relief. Therefore, the Court should deny and dismiss the Petition without prejudice. See Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts.

DISCUSSION

Petitioner, a state prisoner, alleges that several items of his personal property were not returned to him following a prison transfer. See Attachments to Petition, including "Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus" filed in the California Supreme Court on October 12, 2011. "According to traditional interpretation, the writ of habeas corpus is limited to attacks upon the legality or duration of confinement." Crawford v. Bell, 599 F.2d 890, 891 (9th Cir. 1979). Because Petitioner does not attack the legality or duration of his confinement, habeas corpus is unavailable. Id. at 891-92; Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 859 (9th Cir. 2003), cert. denied, 541 U.S. 1063 (2004) ("habeas jurisdiction is absent and a [civil rights] action proper, where a successful challenge to a prison condition will not necessarily shorten the prisoner's sentence"); Badea v. Cox, 931 F.2d 573, 574 (9th Cir. 1991) (same).

This Court should not exercise its discretion to convert the present Petition into a civil rights complaint. There exist profound procedural and substantive differences between habeas corpus actions and civil rights actions pertinent to the circumstances herein. For example, Warden Singh, as Petitioner's custodian, would be an appropriate respondent in a habeas corpus action. See Rule 2(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts. Warden Singh would not necessarily be an appropriate defendant in a civil rights action, however. A defendant is not liable on a civil rights claim absent the defendant's "personal involvement" in the alleged constitutional deprivation or a "causal connection" between the defendant's conduct and the alleged constitutional deprivation. Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 646 (9th Cir. 1989); Johnson v. Duffy, 588 F.2d 740, 743-44 (9th Cir. 1978); see Palmer v. Sanderson, 9 F.3d 1433, 1438 (9th Cir. 1993) (a supervisory official may not be held liable in a civil rights action under the doctrines of vicarious liability or respondeat superior). Additionally, prisoners filing civil rights actions, unlike prisoners filing habeas petitions, are liable for the full amount of the $350.00 filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1); see Naddi v. Hill, 106 F.3d 275 (9th Cir. 1997) (in forma pauperis provisions of section 1915, as amended by the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, do not apply to habeas actions); Glaus v. Anderson, 408 F.3d 382, 388 (7th Cir. 2005) (court relied on myriad differences between habeas actions and civil rights actions in affirming district court's refusal to recharacterize a habeas petition as a civil rights complaint). Thus, conversion of the present Petition into a civil rights complaint would be inappropriate. See Body v. Director of Department of Corrections, 2009 WL 1037742, at *1 (C.D. Cal. April 16, 2009) (refusing to recharacterize a habeas petition as a civil rights complaint where the prisoner sought the return of lost property); Chambers v. Gerry, 2008 WL 4790110 (D. N.H. Oct. 23, 2003) (refusing to convert into a civil rights complaint a prisoner's habeas petition that alleged a deprivation of property).

Furthermore, conversion of the present Petition into a civil rights complaint would appear to be an idle act because the allegations in the Petition fail to state a cognizable civil rights claim. To state a civil rights claim, a plaintiff must allege a violation of a right secured by the federal constitution or federal law. Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535 (1982), overruled on other grounds, Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986); Haygood v. Younger, 769 F.2d 1350, 1353 (9th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 478 U.S. 1020 (1986). To the extent Petitioner alleges that some prison official or officials violated Petitioner's rights by failing to return several items of personal property to Petitioner, the Petition does not allege a violation of a right secured by the federal constitution or federal law. Rather, the Petition appears only to allege a random and unauthorized property deprivation, which does not constitute a denial of federal due process if state law provides an adequate post-deprivation remedy. Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 533 (1984). California state law provides an adequate post-deprivation remedy for random and unauthorized property deprivations. See Barnett v. Centoni, 31 F.3d 813, 817 (9th Cir. 1994).

RECOMMENDATION

For all of the foregoing reasons, IT IS RECOMMENDED that the Court issue an Order: (1) accepting and adopting this Report and Recommendation; and (2) directing that Judgment be entered denying and dismissing the Petition without prejudice.

NOTICE

Reports and Recommendations are not appealable to the Court of Appeals, but may be subject to the right of any party to file objections as provided in the Local Rules Governing the Duties of Magistrate Judges and review by the District Judge whose initials appear in the docket number. No notice of appeal pursuant to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure should be filed until entry of the judgment of the District Court.

If the District Judge enters judgment adverse to Petitioner, the District Judge will, at the same time, issue or deny a certificate of appealability. Within twenty (20) days of the filing of this Report and Recommendation, the parties may file written arguments regarding whether a certificate of appealability should issue.

20120425

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