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Rymalowicz v. Brown

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 5, 2014

EDMUND G. BROWN, et al., Defendants.


LAWRENCE J. O'NEILL, District Judge.

First Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement and Standard

Plaintiff Paul D. Rymalowicz, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on September 19, 2013.

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous or malicious, " that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that... the action or appeal... fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

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). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice, " Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955 (2007)), and courts "are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences, " Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

Under section 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). This requires the presentation of factual allegations sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor, Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted), but nevertheless, the mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting the plausibility standard, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

II. Discussion

Plaintiff, who is currently incarcerated at California State Prison-Corcoran, brings this action against Governor Edmund G. Brown, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Jeffrey Beard, and Kings County Superior Court Judge Steven Barnes.

Plaintiff's complaint, which is replete with unnecessary legal arguments, general assertions, and contradictory allegations, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under section 1983 and it fails to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). The Court will provide Plaintiff with an opportunity to file an amended complaint, and it will attempt to briefly address the deficiencies in Plaintiff's complaint.

A. Defendant Barnes

Plaintiff is suing Judge Barnes, who presided over his criminal trial and sentenced him to prison. Plaintiff asserts that Judge Barnes is not entitled to judicial immunity for violating Plaintiff's federal constitutional rights, because he abused his discretion in sentencing Plaintiff to prison in an unconstitutionally overcrowded prison system. Plaintiff also asserts he is not seeking to challenge the validity of his conviction or sentence, but he is seeking to be released from prison and to have his criminal records and history "pulled and destroyed, not sealed and expunged." (Comp., pp. 19, 25.)

Plaintiff's claim against Defendant Barnes is frivolous. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325, 109 S.Ct. 1827 (1989); Martin v. Sias, 88 F.3d 774, 775 (9th Cir. 1996); Cato v. U.S., 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995). Judge Barnes is entitled to absolute immunity from damages for judicial acts, absent very limited exceptions not presented here. Cleavinger v. Saxner, 474 U.S. 193, 199-200, 106 S.Ct. 496 (1985); Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 355-56, 98 S.Ct. 1099 (1978); Crowe v. County of San Diego, 608 F.3d 406, 430 (9th Cir. 2010); Simmons v. Sacramento County Superior Court, 318 F.3d 1156, 1161 (9th Cir. 2003); Schucker v. Rockwood, 846 F.2d 1202, 1204 (9th Cir. 1988). While judicial immunity does not bar claims for prospective relief generally, Pulliam v. Allen, 466 U.S. 522, 536-42, 104 S.Ct. 1970 (1984), section 1983 bars claims for injunctive relief against a judicial officer for actions taken in his judicial capacity, again absent very limited exceptions not presented here, 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Wolff v. Strankman, 392 F.3d 358, 366 (9th Cir. 2004).

Furthermore, despite Plaintiff's strenuous arguments to the contrary, the relief he is seeking - release from custody and relief from his criminal conviction - is unavailable in this action and may only be sought via habeas corpus. ...

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