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Sanford D. Jones v. Dee Shafer

August 20, 2012


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



Plaintiff Sanford D. Jones ("Plaintiff") is proceeding pro se in this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff was formerly detained and in the custody of the California Department of Mental Health pursuant to California's Sexually Violent Predator Act ("SVPA"). Plaintiff initiated this action on October 15, 2007. Plaintiff had not yet been civilly committed at the time of the filing of this action. On February 10, 2010, the Court stayed this action as to Plaintiff's claims for monetary relief, pending the outcome of Plaintiff's state civil commitment proceedings. On July 2, 2012, Plaintiff filed notice with the Court that the state civil commitment proceedings in this action had concluded, and Plaintiff had been released from custody. Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's first amended complaint, filed December 9, 2008. ECF No. 8.

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 2 a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). 3

A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader 4 is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but 5 "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, 6 do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 7 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a 8 claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). While factual 9 allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id.

II. Summary of Amended Complaint

Plaintiff was previously detained at Coalinga State Hospital ("CSH") in Coalinga, California, where the events giving rise to this action occurred. Plaintiff names as Defendants: Dee Shafer, staff psychologist at CSH; Michael Themins, staff social worker at CSH; Tim Jones, staff social worker at CSH; and Does 1 through 25.

Plaintiff alleges the following. Under the SVPA, Plaintiff, and all other CSH residents, may be held in confinement by a current mental diagnosis. Pl.'s Am. Compl. ¶ 9. On May 1, 2007, Defendant Shafer interviewed Plaintiff for a wellness and recovery team ("WRT") meeting, to update the DMH's integrated psychological assessment. Id. ¶ 12. Plaintiff asked Defendant what recent behaviors justified the official diagnosis previously made by Charles W. Jackson, Ph. D., to support the allegation of current dangerousness against Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 13. Defendant Shafer refused to respond to Plaintiff's question and verbally attacked him for questioning her. Id. Charles Jackson was discredited as a DMH evaluator for lacking the required credentials to provide SVPA mental health evaluations. Id. at 3 n.2.

On May 2, 2007, during the WRT meeting, Plaintiff again questioned what recent objective indicia justified a diagnosis of current dangerousness to support Plaintiff's continued detention at CSH. Id. ¶ 14. Defendants Shafer and Themins refused responsibility for developing an updated diagnosis for Plaintiff, citing to the evaluating mental health professional (Charles Jackson), and that it is for the courts to decide Plaintiff's detention at CSH. Id. ¶ 15. Plaintiff contends that other residents of the four state hospitals run by the DMH regularly receive clinically justifiable current 2 diagnoses. Id. ¶ 16. 3

Plaintiff offered to the WRP team a citation from a case, People v. Buffington, 74 Cal. App. 4th 1149, 1161 (1999), which purported held that current psychological symptoms are needed to 5 establish a person is a SVP. Id. ¶ 17. Defendants Shafer and Themins refused to accept Plaintiff's 6 input. Id. ¶ 18. Defendant Shafer stated in Plaintiff's WRT report that Plaintiff refused to answer 7 questions. Id. ¶ 19. Plaintiff then stated to Defendants that if they were unwilling to note any of 8 Plaintiff's input, Plaintiff did not need to be present at the WRP meeting. Id. ¶ 20. Defendant 9 Themins threatened to revoke Plaintiff's rights if Plaintiff left the room. Id. ¶ 21. Plaintiff remained, but did not take his seat. Id. ¶ 22.

Plaintiff's 60-day WRP team meeting was held on June 4, 2007. Id. ¶ 23. Plaintiff did not attend, instead submitting a written demand through Defendant Tim Jones that he be treated fairly, and he would not attend WRP team meeting so long as Defendant Shafer was in charge. Id. In response to the demand, Defendants Shafer and Jones reduced Plaintiff's privilege level to Level 1, which meant no movement without staff escort. Id. ¶ 24. Defendants' own guidelines, however, prohibits a reduction of Plaintiff's privilege levels lower than Level 2 for not attending team meeting. Id. Plaintiff had not been civilly committed as a SVP at the time he initiated this action. Pl.'s Mot., ECF No. 10. As of June 25, 2012, state civil commitment proceedings against Plaintiff ended. Notice, ECF No. 21.

Plaintiff alleges a violation of his First Amendment right of freedom of association, Fourteenth Amendment right of due process, and Fourteenth Amendment right of equal protection under the law. Plaintiff requests as relief monetary damages.*fn1

III. Analysis

A.First Amendment ...

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