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Luperior v. Heusdens

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

July 1, 2013

RAMON N. LUPERIOR, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES HEUSDENS, et al., Defendants.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS THAT PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT BE DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE AND WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND

SHEILA K. OBERTO, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On April 25, 2013, Plaintiff Ramon N. Luperior ("Plaintiff"), a prisoner proceeding in pro se, filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants James Heusdens, [1] Athena Shudde, and Andrew Flier (collectively "Defendants"). For the reasons set forth below, it is RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff's complaint be dismissed with prejudice and without leave to amend.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff states claims against three defendants, Defendant James Heusdens, [2] Athena Shudde, and Andrew Flier. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Heusdens was the attorney who represented him during the course of criminal proceedings in Tulare County Superior Court. Defendant Heusdens allegedly violated Plaintiff's due process rights during the course of representing Plaintiff in the criminal proceedings. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Heusdens failed to investigate witnesses, look into evidence or statements of witnesses, and obtain DNA testing on clothes and gun residue; Defendant Heusdens also fell asleep during the course of the trial proceedings. (Doc. 13:6-13.)

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Shudde is an attorney who represented Plaintiff in the appeal of the underlying criminal action, and violated Plaintiff's right to due process by failing to (1) investigate Mr. Heusdens' ineffective assistance as counsel, (2) look into statements of witnesses, and (3) return evidence, including court documents and transcripts, to Plaintiff for purposes of filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus. (Doc. 1, 3:16-22.)

As to Defendant Flier, Plaintiff asserts that he is an attorney who represented Plaintiff in his appeal to the California Supreme Court. Defendant Flier was supposed to file a writ of habeas corpus, but did not do so until six months after the deadline. Defendant Flier also failed to "investigate any evidence on the plaintiff[s] behalf... and did not interview witnesses." (Doc. 1, 4:3-4.)

III. DISCUSSION

A. Screening Standard

In cases where the plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court is required to screen each case, and shall dismiss the case at any time if the Court determines that the allegation of poverty is untrue, or the action or appeal is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). If the Court determines that the complaint fails to state a claim, leave to amend may be granted to the extent that the deficiencies of the complaint can be cured by amendment. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc).

In determining whether a complaint fails to state a claim, the Court uses the same pleading standard used under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). Under Rule 8(a), 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). "[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require detailed factual allegations, ' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). "[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). "[A] complaint [that] pleads facts that are merely consistent with' a defendant's liability... stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Further, although a court must accept as true all factual allegations contained in a complaint, a court need not accept a plaintiff's legal conclusions as true. Id. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

B. Plaintiff's Section 1983 Claim Against Defendant Heusdens is Barred by Heck v. Humphrey

In Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), the U.S. Supreme Court held as follows:

[I]n order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254.... thus, when a state prisoner seeks damages in a § 1983 suit, the district court must consider whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of ...

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