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Bernard C. Hughes v. Brian Muller

November 1, 2012

BERNARD C. HUGHES,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
BRIAN MULLER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

SECOND SCREENING ORDER DISMISSING ACTION FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM UNDER SECTION 1983 (Doc. 11) ORDER THAT DISMISSAL IS SUBJECT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(G)

Second Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement and Standard

Plaintiff Bernard C. Hughes, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on May 10, 2011. On March 8, 2012, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint, with leave to amend, for failure to state a claim under section 1983. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on April 5, 2012.

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an 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, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (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) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

Under section 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, 556 U.S. at 678-79; 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, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

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, but the pleading standard is now higher, Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted), and to survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

II. Discussion

A. Allegations

Plaintiff, who is currently incarcerated at Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, California, brings this suit against Sheriff Brian Muller, Undersheriff Douglas Binnewies, Lieutenant Susan Brent, and Captain Joel Bibby for violating his rights under the United States Constitution while he was a pretrial detainee at the Mariposa County Jail.

Plaintiff alleges that he was acting as his own attorney in three criminal cases. Plaintiff was granted stand-by counsel during pretrial proceedings and he had an appointed investigator, whom he used to investigate all three cases against him. Plaintiff alleges that approximately forty times, Defendants Muller and Brent forced him to use an interview room to communicate with his attorney and investigator which had been equipped to monitor and record conversations. Plaintiff alleges that the room was used to obtain information, impede his access to the courts, and interfere with his investigation. Plaintiff alleges that he was prevented from effectively communicating with his attorney, investigator, and psychiatrists, which compromised his investigations and the fairness of his one trial, identified as case number 7045. Charges against him in case numbers 7106 and 7723, which arose out of jail disciplinary issues, were ultimately dropped. Plaintiff alleges that staff who were witnesses in the cases had unlimited access to his private consultations with witnesses and legal consultants for over one year.

Plaintiff appealed the regulation so that his attorney would be able to "hang up phones" and turn off the monitor/intercom, but the appeal was denied by Defendant Brent. (Amend. Comp., p.

5.) Defendant Bibby later granted Plaintiff's appeal but further safeguards were denied by all defendants. Plaintiff's legal consultants were required to use that interview room even after his appeal and conversations were monitored. Plaintiff alleges that he was denied his right to confidentially prepare his cases, which hindered his ...


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