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Walter Shane Langston v. Jeffery Shiaishi

May 10, 2013



Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. Plaintiff has consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (See Doc. No. 4.) Now before the court are plaintiff's amended complaint and motions for discovery.

I. The Court's Order Filed March 13, 2012

In the court's order filed March 13, 2013, plaintiff was advised that the court is required to screen complaints such as his and to dismiss such a complaint or portion thereof if the claim presented is legally frivolous or malicious or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. (See Doc. No. 8 at 2-3.) The court also concluded that plaintiff's original complaint was so defective that a determination could not be made as to whether plaintiff had stated cognizable claims. Therefore, the original complaint was dismissed and plaintiff was granted leave to file an amended complaint. In that order plaintiff was also advised of the requirements for stating a cognizable § 1983 claim and that this action may be barred under the holding in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994), if it was determined that a judgment in plaintiff's favor in this action would necessarily imply the invalidity of his criminal conviction or sentence.

II. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint

On April 26, 2012, plaintiff filed his amended complaint in this action. (Doc. No. 14.) The claims alleged in that amended complaint arise from the alleged actions of defendant police officers Shiraishi*fn1 and Enkoji prior to plaintiff's detention and arrest on September 19, 2007. Plaintiff alleges that on that day, the defendant police officers began to follow him as he was driving the "public roadways" even though he had not committed any traffic violations. (Doc. No. 14 at 1-2 & 4.) Plaintiff also contends that the defendants pursued him because he is African American and that they were engaging in racial profiling. According to plaintiff, upon his detention he denied that the car he was driving was stolen and that a vehicle check revealed that no stolen vehicle report had been made by the owner of the vehicle he was driving. Nevertheless, plaintiff alleges, he was booked into jail for delaying an officer, driving a vehicle without the consent of the owner and driving a stolen vehicle.

Based on these allegations, plaintiff presents the following claims that he was: (1) subjected to racial discrimination, harassment and racial profiling in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment; (2) subjected to an "unreasonable, and unconstitutional intrusion and harassment" in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments; (3) denied his "right to travel the public roadways" in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, and (4) the victim of defendants' conspiracy with each other and with the Highway Patrol when they "ascribed criminal conduct on him and caused his detention." (Id. at 3-5).

As to the court's previous cautioning that to the extent his civil rights claim implicate the validity of his criminal conviction and sentence on the criminal charges related to this incident they may well be barred by the holding in Heck v. Humphrey, plaintiff argues that the court has not identified a material fact that would bar the award of damages in this case and that plaintiff's conviction was obtained not by jury verdict but rather by his entry of a "no contest" plea. (Doc. No. 14 at 15; Doc. No. 14-1 at 88-89.) Plaintiff asserts that his plea of no contest preserved his ability to pursue a civil rights action such as this one with respect to the underlying incident. (Id. at 16.)

In terms of relief, in his amended complaint plaintiff seeks monetary damages in the amount of $1,000,000 from each defendant. (Id. at 20.)

III. Criminal Proceedings

The facts surrounding plaintiff's detention, arrest and conviction in connection with the underlying incident have not been fully detailed in the factual allegations set forth in plaintiff's amended complaint. However, to his amended complaint plaintiff has attached and incorporated 200 pages of documents and court transcripts. The court has reviewed those attachments to the amended complaint and gleaned therefrom the following.

A. Preliminary Hearing

At plaintiff's preliminary hearing on the criminal charges brought against him as a result of this incident, defendant officer Shiraishi testified as follows. On September 19, 2007, defendants Enkoji and Shiraishi were on patrol and driving southbound on Stockton Boulevard in Sacramento County. (Id. at 73-74.) Around 3:00 a.m., they observed a Ford Ranger going northbound on Stockton Boulevard. (Id. at 73-74.) They made a U-turn to follow the vehicle. (Id. at 74.) They observed the truck making a turn and proceeding westbound on El Paraiso. (Id.) As they continued a few blocks on El Paraiso, they observed that the vehicle had crashed into a wrought iron fence at the intersection of El Paraiso and Lucero. (Id. at 74.) They also observed the driver exiting the vehicle and running from the scene. (Id. at 75 & 82.) Defendant officer Shiraishi chased the driver and searched the area. (Id. at 75 & 83-86.) Eventually, the driver turned himself in, stating that he did not want to be bitten by a dog again. (Id. at 77 & 86.) The driver was identified as plaintiff. (Id. at 77-78.) Under cross-examination, defendant Shiraishi testified that there were no other cars on the road at that time when they made a U-turn to follow the truck. (Id. at 80-81.) When they began to follow the truck, they did not intend to stop and detain the driver. (Id. at 79-80.) Defendant explained, "It was just common practice to turn around, run license plates, ensure the vehicles aren't stolen." (Id. at 80.) However, after the vehicle crashed into the fence and the driver fled the scene while the truck's engine was running, the driver had committed a misdemeanor hit and run and property damage. (Id. at 81-82.)

Police officer Matt Hoffman testified that after plaintiff was taken into custody on September 19, 2007, Mr. Ackers, the registered owner of the Ford Ranger, arrived at the scene to identify his truck. (Doc. No. 14-2 at 62-63.) Mr. Ackers was unaware that his truck had been stolen until he received a call from the police department at approximately 4:00 a.m. that day. (Id. at 63.) Mr. Ackers later discovered that one of his spare car ...

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