August 1, 2013
BRUCE L. FULLER, Plaintiff,
ANDREW JOHN HAYNAL, Defendant.
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
RICHARD SEEBORG, District Judge.
This is a federal civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by a pro se state prisoner. The original complaint was dismissed without prejudice. Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint, and the action was reopened. The Court now reviews the first amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
A. Standard of Review
A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the Court must identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See id. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).
A "complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Furthermore, a court "is not required to accept legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations if those conclusions cannot reasonably be drawn from the facts alleged." Clegg v. Cult Awareness Network, 18 F.3d 752, 754-55 (9th Cir. 1994). To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
B. Legal Claims
Plaintiff alleges that his attorney violated his federal constitutional rights when he destroyed without plaintiff's consent files related to plaintiff's legal proceedings. A state-appointed defense attorney "does not qualify as a state actor when engaged in his general representation of a criminal defendant." Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312, 321 (1981). Polk County "noted, without deciding, that a public defender may act under color of state law while performing certain administrative [such as making hiring and firing decisions], and possibly investigative, functions." Georgia v. McCollum, 505 U.S. 42, 54 (1992) (citing Polk County, 454 U.S. at 325.) Under this standard, plaintiff's allegations fail to state a claim for relief under § 1983. As put forth in the complaint, counsel's destruction of certain files was neither an administrative nor investigative function constituting action by a state actor, as those functions are described by binding legal authority. In allegedly destroying his files, it appears that defense counsel was a private, not a state, actor, and therefore not liable under § 1983. See Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). Accordingly, the action is DISMISSED. The Clerk shall enter judgment in favor of defendant, and close the file.
IT IS SO ORDERED.