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Masala James v. D. Sweeny

January 8, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael J. Seng United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff Masala James is a state prisoner proceeding in pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action filed October 17, 2012 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Compl., ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff declined to extend magistrate judge jurisdiction to all matters and for all purposes in this case. (Decline Magistrate, ECF No. 5.)

The Court dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint on December 27, 2012, for failure to state a claim, but gave leave to file an amended complaint. (Order Dismiss. Compl., ECF No. 13.)

On October 24, 2012, Plaintiff filed a motion for temporary restraining order (Mot. for TRO, ECF No. 4) seeking interim relief from alleged retaliation during his former incarceration at Pleasant Valley State Prison ("PVSP"). He asks that (1) Defendants Sweeny and Hardin be immediately removed from their posts at PVSP, (2) he not be transferred out-of-state via COCF*fn1 and that such transfer, if effected, be rescinded, and (3) PVSP officials refrain from retaliating against him for his exercise of fundamental constitutional rights. (Mot. for TRO at 4.)

On November 26, 2012, Plaintiff filed an essentially duplicative motion for preliminary injunction. (Mot. for Prelim. Inj., ECF No. 10.) He asks that (1) PVSP be prohibited from transferring him out-of-state without his consent, (2) he be transferred back to California, to "SOL-III, and/or CMF-III, which is closer to [his] family", (3) his Complaint be promptly screened and served by the U.S. Marshal, and (4) the Court issue a declaratory judgment against Defendants on the Complaint. (Mot. for Prelim. Inj. at 4-5.)

The motions for temporary retraining order and preliminary injunction are now before the Court.


Plaintiff asserts that any COCF transfer is in furtherance of a pattern and practice of retaliation for his protected First Amendment activities (Mot. for TRO at ¶ 3-6; Mot. for Prelim. Inj. at ¶ 1), is unsupported by legitimate penologic purpose (Mot. for TRO at ¶ 5), and is unlawful because he did not consent in writing to the transfer as required by Interstate Corrections Compact ("ICC"), California Penal Code § 11191(a).*fn2 (Aff. in Supp. TRO at ¶ 4.)

Plaintiff requested and was seen by a PVSP appointed attorney regarding the COCF transfer. The attorney advised him "you are going out of state, and there's nothing you or me can do about it."*fn3 (Id. at ¶ 3.)

Plaintiff claims that upon transfer his property, including legal papers, will be deliberately lost or destroyed (Id. at ¶ 8) and he will suffer "imminent danger and/or death, kidnaping . . . or other deliberate, intentional, and wreckless acts of correctional officials . . . at PVSP." (Id. at ¶ 10.)


Injunctive relief, whether temporary or permanent, is an "extraordinary remedy, never awarded as of right." Winter v. Natural Res. Defense Council, 555 U.S. 7, 22 (2008). "A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest." Am. Trucking Ass'ns, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, 559 F.3d 1046, 1052 (9th Cir. 2009), quoting Winter, 555 U.S. at 20. An injunction may only be awarded upon a clear showing that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Winter, 555 U.S. at 22.

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and in considering a request for preliminary injunctive relief, the Court is bound by the requirement that as a preliminary matter, it have before it an actual case or controversy. City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 102 (1983); Valley Forge Christian Coll. v. Ams. United for Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 471 (1982). If the Court does not have an actual case or controversy before it, it has no power to hear the matter in question. Id. "[The] triad of injury in fact, causation, and redressability constitutes the core of Article III's case-or-controversy requirement, and the party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing its existence." Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 103--04 (1998).

Requests for prospective injunctive relief are further limited by 18 U.S.C. ยง 3626(a)(1)(A) of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, which requires that the court find the "relief [sought] is narrowly drawn, extends no further than necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right, and is the ...

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