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Manago v. Williams

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 12, 2013

BRAD WILLIAMS, et al., Defendants.


KENDALL J. NEWMAN, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff is a state prisoner at the California Correctional Institution (CCI), in Tehachapi, who proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. On March 13, 2013, the undersigned Magistrate Judge issued Amended Findings and Recommendations (ECF No. 259), [1] which are pending for review by the District Judge. Meanwhile, plaintiff has filed several matters, including the following: (1) Motion for Special Hearing (ECF No. 270); (2) Motion to File a Reply to Defendants' Objections to the Amended Findings and Recommendations (ECF No. 271); and (3) Motion for Hearing (ECF No. 272). For the following reasons, only the motion concerning plaintiff's reply is granted.

1. Motion for Special Hearing (ECF No. 270)

Pursuant to this motion (83 pages in length, including exhibits), plaintiff states that, on April 2, 2013, CCI Correctional Officer Speth willfully delivered to another inmate plaintiff's legal mail, specifically, a copy of the objections to the pending findings and recommendations filed by attorney Shanan Hewitt on behalf of defendant Mary Brockett. Plaintiff alleges that this unnamed inmate ("housed [at] 4A-5A-105") willfully signed the legal log book, forging plaintiff's name. The subject legal mail was routed to plaintiff on April 7, 2013, by Correctional Officer Duncan, who told plaintiff that that the inmate housed in "5A-105" had, that same day, returned the opened mail to Correctional Officer Montgomery, who gave the mail to Officer Duncan to deliver to plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that the unidentified inmate made intimidating statements to plaintiff on April 7 and 11, 2013, letting others know that plaintiff was a "government informant" (referencing plaintiff's role in the alleged "sting operation" underlying this action) and, together with Officer Speth, attempted to dissuade a witness in this action. Plaintiff asserts that Officer Speth and the subject inmate have deliberately interfered with plaintiff's right to pursue this action. Plaintiff seeks "an order calling for a hearing to determine intimidating, threatening, coercing and the interfering (sic) with my right to litigate this cause of action without fear and intimidation from correctional officers at CCI." (ECF No. 270 at 29-30.) Elsewhere in this filing, plaintiff seeks a "preliminary injunction" "ordering CDCR Agents and CCI Legal Officers to cease their retaliatory acts, threats and interfering with [plaintiff's] legal activities, " and "from sharing plaintiff's confidential legal mail with other inmates, who may cause harm to plaintiff within CDCR...." ( Id. at 18.)

These allegations against CCI officials, which the court finds only tangentially related to the merits of this action, cannot be added to this litigation. Plaintiff asserts that, as a result of the challenged conduct, he missed the deadline for filing a reply to defendant Brockett's objections (ECF No. 264); however, plaintiff timely filed such reply (ECF No. 269). Moreover, plaintiff's putative claims must be pursued, if at all, in a separate action after plaintiff exhausts his available administrative remedies. A prisoner does not comply with the exhaustion requirement by exhausting his administrative remedies during the course of litigation. McKinney v. Carey , 311 F.3d 1198, 1199 (9th Cir. 2002).

Similarly, plaintiff does not assert any cognizable basis for issuing a preliminary injunction. "The proper legal standard for preliminary injunctive relief requires a party to demonstrate 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.'" Stormans, Inc. v. Selecky , 586 F.3d 1109, 1127 (9th Cir. 2009), quoting Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc. , 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008). The principal purpose of preliminary injunctive relief is to preserve the court's power to render a meaningful decision pursuant to a trial on the merits. See 11A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, § 2947 (2d ed. 2010). In addition to demonstrating that he will suffer irreparable harm if the court fails to grant the preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must show a "fair chance of success on the merits" of his underlying claims. Sports Form, Inc. v. United Press International, Inc. , 686 F.2d 750, 754 (9th Cir. 1982) (internal citation omitted). Implicit in this showing is the assumption that the relief awarded will be only temporary, pending a full hearing on the merits of the claims raised in the injunction when the action is brought to trial. Therefore, as a general rule, this court cannot issue an order against individuals who are not parties to the underlying suit. Zenith Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research, Inc. , 395 U.S. 100 (1969).

For these reasons, plaintiff's motion for a special hearing (ECF No. 270), to challenge the conduct of CCI Correctional Officer Speth, additional unidentified CCI officials, and unnamed CCI inmates, is denied.

2. Motion to File Reply to Defendants' Objections (ECF No. 271)

Pursuant to his "Motion for Reply" and "Reply" contained therein (51 pages in length, including exhibits), plaintiff requests that the court consider the merits of plaintiff's response to the objections filed by defendants (other than defendant Brockett).

Plaintiff's motion will be granted. The Amended Findings and Recommendations provided that "[a]ny response to the objections shall be filed and served within 14 days after service of the objections." (ECF No. 259 at 74.) Defendants' objections were served on March 27, 2013. (ECF No. 265 at 17.) Allowing three days for service of the objections on plaintiff, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(d), plaintiff's response was due by April 15, 2013, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(a)(1)(B) (the 14-day period ended on a Saturday, extending the deadline to the following Monday). Plaintiff submitted his response to prison officials on April 18, 2013. Application of the mailbox rule[2] renders plaintiff's response only three days late. This delay di minimis. Moreover, as a matter of equity, defendants earlier sought and obtained an extension of time within to file their responses to plaintiff's objections. (See ECF No. 266.)

Therefore, plaintiff's request will be granted. The Clerk of Court will be directed to re-designate this document as a "REPLY by Stewart Manago to ECF No. 265 Objections to Findings and Recommendations, " and the substance of this reply shall be included in the district judge's consideration of the Amended Findings and Recommendations.

3. Motion for Hearing (ECF No. 272)

Pursuant to this motion, plaintiff seeks an order enjoining attorney Hewitt and CCI Prison Officials from opening plaintiff's legal mail outside of plaintiff's presence and/or to order Hewitt to cease refusing service of plaintiff's legal filings. Plaintiff states that Hewitt rejected the attempted service of two motions filed by plaintiff (now designated as ECF Nos. 270, 271). Plaintiff states that he had submitted the motions to CCI Correctional Officer Cannon for mailing; but that Officer Speth returned them to plaintiff on April 26, 2013, with a message that they were not deliverable as addressed. However, the address that plaintiff identifies for Ms. Hewitt matches that on the court's docket.

Plaintiff asserts that "[i]t appears that CCI Prison Officials and Attorney Heweitt are using delay tactics, oppression, harassment and massive expense for their own political profit." (ECF No. 272 at 3.) Plaintiff also asserts that "CCI Prison officials, and the mailroom staff, has attempted to have me to believe that the mail left the institution, but it did not because these stamps are suspect." ( Id. at 4 (sic).) For the reasons previously set forth in denying plaintiff's motion for a special hearing, this motion is also denied. Plaintiff's allegations and claims against these CCI officials and/or attorney Hewitt are only ...

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