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John Combs, Cdcr #Ak-1030 v. Public Defenders of San and Stan Jones

June 11, 2012

JOHN COMBS, CDCR #AK-1030, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PUBLIC DEFENDERS OF SAN AND STAN JONES, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cathy Ann Bencivengo United States District Judge

ORDER:

(1) DISMISSING FEDERAL LAW FAILING TO STATE A CLAIM PURSUANT TO DIEGO; 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1); (2) REMANDING STATE LAW COURT CLAIMS AS FRIVOLOUS AND FOR CLAIMS TO SAN DIEGO SUPERIOR

On April 16, 2012, Plaintiff, an inmate currently incarcerated at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison located in Blythe, California and proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint in San Diego Superior Court. Defendants filed a "Notice of Removal" on May 31, 2012. (ECF No. 1.)

I. DEFENDANT'S NOTICE OF REMOVAL (ECF No. 1)

A. Legal Standard

The federal court is one of limited jurisdiction. See Gould v. Mutual Life Ins. Co. of New York, 790 F.2d 769, 774 (9th Cir. 1986). As such, it cannot reach the merits of any dispute until it confirms its own subject matter jurisdiction. Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't., 523 U.S. 83, 94 (1998). "Jurisdiction is power to declare the law, and when it ceases to exist, the only function remaining to the court is that of announcing the fact and dismissing the cause." Id. (quoting Ex parte McCardle, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 506, 614 (1868)). District courts must construe the removal statutes strictly against removal and resolve any uncertainty as to removability in favor of remanding the case to state court. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (per curiam); Boggs v. Lewis, 863 F.2d 662, 663 (9th Cir. 1988).

Removal jurisdiction is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1441 et seq. A state court action can only be removed if it could have originally been brought in federal court. Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987); Duncan v. Stuetzle, 76 F.3d 1480, 1485 (9th. Cir. 1996). Thus, for an action to be removed on the basis of federal question jurisdiction, the complaint must establish either that federal law creates the cause of action or that the plaintiff's right to relief necessarily depends on the resolution of substantial questions of federal law. Franchise Tax Board of Cal. v. Construction Laborers Vacation Trust for Southern Cal., 463 U.S. 1, 10-11 (1983). Whether federal jurisdiction exists is governed by the well-pleaded complaint rule. Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 392. Under this rule, the federal question must be "presented on the face of plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint." Id.; accord Wayne v. DHL Worldwide Express, 294 F.3d 1179, 1183 (9th Cir. 2002).

Defendants seek removal of this action on the grounds that Plaintiff's Complaint arises under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. While Plaintiff has not filed a reply to Defendants' notice of removal, a district court may remand an action sua sponte if it concludes that it lacks jurisdiction. See Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221 (9th Cir. 1984); FED.R.CIV.P. 12(h)(3) (district court may sua sponte dismiss an action, regardless of whether the plaintiffs are proceeding in forma pauperis, if the court concludes that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction).

Here, Plaintiff's Complaint rests on allegations that Defendants violated his constitutional rights under the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Because Plaintiff's federal claims appears on the face and throughout his Complaint, the Court finds that his cause of action arises under federal law, and thus, is removable. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1441(b).

II. Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)

Now that the Court has found the removal of this action to be proper, the Court will conduct a sua sponte review of Plaintiff's Complaint because he is "incarcerated or detained in any facility [and] is accused of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms or conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary program." 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), (c). Section 1915A, enacted as part of the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), requires sua sponte dismissal of prisoner complaints, or any portions thereof, which are frivolous, malicious, or fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 446-47 (9th Cir. 2000). A similar screening provision of the PLRA would apply to Plaintiff's Complaint even if he elected to initiate this action in federal court and successfully moved to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP"). See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

"Under § 1915A, when determining whether a complaint states a claim, a court must accept as true all allegations of material fact and must construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Resnick, 213 F.3d at 447 (citing Cooper v. Pickett, 137 F.3d 616, 623 (9th Cir. 1997)). The rule of liberal construction is "particularly important in civil rights cases." Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1261 (9th Cir. 1992).

Nevertheless, in giving liberal interpretation to a pro se civil rights complaint, the court may not, "supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled." Ivey v. Bd of Regents of the University of Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).

Section 1983 imposes two essential proof requirements upon a claimant: (1) that a person acting under color of state law committed the conduct at issue, and (2) that the conduct deprived the claimant of some right, privilege, or immunity protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535 (1981), overruled on other grounds by Daniels ...


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