United States District Court, N.D. California, Oakland Division
April 7, 2014
MICHAEL HOLLINS, Plaintiff,
ED POMEROY, et. al., Defendants.
ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND
PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON, District Judge.
Plaintiff, a pretrial detainee incarcerated at Maguire Correctional Facility has filed a pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
A. Standard of Review
Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review the court must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims which 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. Id. at 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." "Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only "give the defendant fair notice of what the.... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests."'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (citations omitted). Although in order to state a claim a complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations, ... a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.... Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. The United States Supreme Court has recently explained the "plausible on its face" standard of Twombly: "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).
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 deprivation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
B. Legal Claims
Plaintiff has filed a complaint, motion to amend with supplemental pleadings and a separate amended complaint, though it is not exactly clear the relief that he seeks. In the original complaint plaintiff stated he was being committed to a state hospital but the proper procedures were not followed. Plaintiff then stated he only spent 12 days in a state hospital was returned to the county jail where he is still awaiting trial for the underlying criminal charges. The only defendants are plaintiff's prior court appointed attorney and his current appointed attorney that was assigned after plaintiff requested a new counsel at a Marsden hearing. Plaintiff's later filings discuss how his newly appointed attorney is not properly representing him, but there is no more discussion of being improperly committed to the state hospital. The only relief plaintiff seeks is monetary damages from the attorneys, and presumably a new court appointed attorney.
Under principles of comity and federalism, a federal court should not interfere with ongoing state criminal proceedings by granting injunctive or declaratory relief absent extraordinary circumstances. See Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 43-54 (1971). Federal courts should not enjoin pending state criminal prosecutions absent a showing of the state's bad faith or harassment, or a showing that the statute challenged is "flagrantly and patently violative of express constitutional prohibitions." Younger, 401 U.S. at 46, 53-54 (cost, anxiety and inconvenience of criminal defense not kind of special circumstances or irreparable harm that would justify federal court intervention; statute must be unconstitutional in every "clause, sentence and paragraph, and in whatever manner" it is applied). Abstention may be inappropriate in the "extraordinary circumstance" that (1) the party seeking relief in federal court does not have an adequate remedy at law and will suffer irreparable injury if denied equitable relief, see Mockaitis v. Harcleroad, 104 F.3d 1522, 1528 (9th Cir. 1997) (citing Younger, 401 U.S. at 43-44), or (2) the state tribunal is incompetent by reason of bias, see Gibson v. Berryhill, 411 U.S. 564, 577-79 (1973). A party who alleges bias must overcome a presumption of honesty and integrity in those serving as adjudicators. See Hirsh v. Justices of the Supreme Court of Cal., 67 F.3d 708, 713 (9th Cir. 1995) (citation omitted).
The complaint will be dismissed with leave to amend for plaintiff to more clearly present his claims and to demonstrate why this case should not be dismissed pursuant to Younger, as it appears that the state court has already once provided plaintiff a new attorney when he was dissatisfied.
1. The complaint is DISMISSED with leave to amend in accordance with the standards set forth above. The amended complaint must be filed no later than May 9, 2014, and must include the caption and civil case number used in this order and the words AMENDED COMPLAINT on the first page. Because an amended complaint completely replaces the original complaint, plaintiff must include in it all the claims he wishes to present. See Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1262 (9th Cir. 1992). He may not incorporate material from the original complaint by reference.
2. The motion to amend (Docket No. 3) is GRANTED and the court has considered all of plaintiff's filings.
3. It is the plaintiff's responsibility to prosecute this case. Plaintiff must keep the court informed of any change of address by filing a separate paper with the clerk headed "Notice of Change of Address, " and must comply with the court's orders in a timely fashion. Failure to do so may result in the dismissal of this action for failure to prosecute pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b).
IT IS SO ORDERED.