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Adler v. Gonzalez

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 13, 2014

BRENT ADLER, Plaintiff,
v.
GONZALEZ, et al., Defendants.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Document 34) THIRTY-DAY OBJECTION DEADLINE ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL (Document 37)

DENNIS L. BECK, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Brent Adler ("Plaintiff") is a former California state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. The action is proceeding on Plaintiff's October 28, 2011, complaint against Defendants Gonzalez, Zanchi, Peterson, Cannon, Wallace, Foster, Karlow, Stanford, Sampson and Snyder for denial of access to the courts in violation of the First Amendment.

Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment[1] on April 22, 2014. Plaintiff opposed the motion on May 29, 2014, and Defendants filed their reply on June 11, 2014. The motion is submitted upon the record without oral argument. Local Rule 230(l).

I. PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL

Pursuant to the Court's July 29, 2013, Discovery and Scheduling Order and subsequent modifications, the deadline for filing motions to compel was March 28, 2014.

On April 22, 2014, Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment.

On May 7, 2014, prior to filing his opposition, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel responses to requests for production of documents and requests for admission. In a declaration attached to the motion, Plaintiff states he needs "the ability to receive discoverable information to combat the motion for summary judgment." ECF No. 37 at 10.

Defendants opposed the motion to compel on May 27, 2014, and Plaintiff filed his reply on June 12, 2014.

Based on Plaintiff's contentions that the discovery is necessary to oppose summary judgment, the Court construes this motion as a motion brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d). Therefore, any timeliness issues are moot.

Pursuant to Local Rule 230(l), Plaintiff's motion to compel is ready for decision.

A. Legal Standard

Rule 56(d) provides that "[i]f a nonmovant shows by affidavit or declaration that, for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition, the court may: (1) defer considering the motion or deny it; (2) allow time to obtain affidavits or declarations or to take discovery; or (3) issue any other appropriate order." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d).

In seeking relief under Rule 56(d), Plaintiff bears the burden of specifically identifying relevant information, where there is some basis for believing that the information actually exists, and demonstrating that the evidence sought actually exists and that it would prevent summary judgment. Blough v. Holland Realty, Inc. , 574 F.3d 1084, 1091 n. 5 (9th Cir. 2009) (quotation marks and citation omitted); Getz v. Boeing Co. , 654 F.3d 852, 867-68 (9th Cir. 2011); Tatum v. City and County of San Francisco , 441 F.3d 1090, 1100-01 (9th Cir. 2006).

B. Analysis

The Court has reviewed the discovery in dispute and finds that the requested discovery would not prevent summary judgment. For example, Plaintiff requests the Legal Library Logbook for certain periods of time, the CCI Operational Procedure for Ad-Seg legal library access and policies related to providing prisoners with documents. However, as the Court explains in the analysis below, each fact that Plaintiff disputes related to his law library access is not material to the outcome of this motion. Therefore, the additional discovery that Plaintiff seeks, even assuming it is relevant, would not change the outcome of the motion.

Similarly, insofar as Plaintiff sets out various requests for admissions, the information he seeks would not prevent summary judgment.

Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion to compel is DENIED.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Any party may move for summary judgment, and the Court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a) (quotation marks omitted); Washington Mutual Inc. v. U.S ., 636 F.3d 1207, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). Each party's position, whether it be that a fact is disputed or undisputed, must be supported by (1) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including but not limited to depositions, documents, declarations, or discovery; or (2) showing that the materials cited do not establish the presence or absence of a genuine dispute or that the opposing party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1) (quotation marks omitted). The Court may consider other materials in the record not cited to by the parties, but it is not required to do so. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3); Carmen v. San Francisco Unified School Dist ., 237 F.3d 1026, 1031 (9th Cir. 2001); accord Simmons v. Navajo County, Ariz ., 609 F.3d 1011, 1017 (9th Cir. 2010).

Defendants do not bear the burden of proof at trial and in moving for summary judgment, they need only prove an absence of evidence to support Plaintiff's case. In re Oracle Corp. Securities Litigation , 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (1986)). If Defendants meet their initial burden, the burden then shifts to Plaintiff "to designate specific facts demonstrating the existence of genuine issues for trial." In re Oracle Corp ., 627 F.3d at 387 (citing Celotex Corp ., 477 U.S. at 323). This requires Plaintiff to "show more than the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence." Id . (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc ., 477 U.S. 242, 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505 (1986)).

In judging the evidence at the summary judgment stage, the Court may not make credibility determinations or weigh conflicting evidence, Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc ., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007) (quotation marks and citation omitted), and it must draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and determine whether a genuine issue of material fact precludes entry of judgment, Comite de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach v. City of Redondo Beach , 657 F.3d 936, 942 (9th Cir. 2011) (quotation marks and citation omitted), cert. denied, 132 S.Ct. 1566 (2012). The Court determines only whether there is a genuine issue for trial, and Plaintiff's filings must be liberally construed because he is a pro se prisoner. Thomas v. Ponder , 611 F.3d 1144, 1150 (9th Cir. 2010) (quotation marks and citations omitted).

III. SUMMARY OF PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff is a former California state prisoner. The events at issue occurred while Plaintiff was incarcerated at the California Correctional Institution ("CCI") in Tehachapi, California.

Plaintiff alleges that on May 28, 2005, he was placed into Administrative-Segregation ("Ad-Seg") at the California Institution for Men for battery on an inmate while housed at the California Rehabilitation Center. Plaintiff was found guilty of the Rules Violation Report on July 1, 2005, and received a forfeiture of 360 days of good time credits and a fourteen month term in the Security Housing Unit ("SHU"). Plaintiff was transferred to CCI to be confined in the SHU.

Plaintiff filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Kern County Superior Court on April 23, 2007. The petition was denied on June 22, 2007.

Plaintiff filed his petition in the Fifth District Court of Appeal on July 24, 2007. The petition was dismissed for jurisdictional issues on July 25, 2007.

Plaintiff alleges that during August and September 2007, his SHU housing facility was on lockdown, and he was not permitted access to the law library during this time because he did not have a legal deadline.

Plaintiff received access to the law library on September 25, 2007, after the completion of the lockdown. During the lockdown, Plaintiff requested that legal materials be brought to his cell.

Plaintiff filed his petition on the Fourth District Court of Appeal in October 2007. He alleges that he was prevented from filing within sixty days of the July 25, 2007, denial, because he did not have law library access during the lockdown.

The Fourth District Court of Court of Appeal denied the petition on February 13, 2008.

Plaintiff filed a petition for review and a new petition in the California Supreme Court in April 2008. The petition was denied.

Plaintiff filed a second petition in the California Supreme Court, with additional grounds for relief.

On August 12, 2008, Plaintiff filed a federal petition in the Central District of California, along with a motion to stay pending exhaustion of the new grounds. On October 17, 2008, Plaintiff filed an amended federal petition to include the new grounds for relief after the California Supreme Court denied his second petition.

On October 30, 2008, Plaintiff received an order to show cause from the Central District why his petition should not be dismissed as time-barred. A response was due by November 14, 2008. If Plaintiff believed that lack of access to the law library due to a lockdown required tolling, he was ordered to include a declaration from the warden or prison law librarian verifying that the law library and library materials were unavailable throughout the relevant time period. He was also required to demonstrate that during the relevant time period, he made requests for legal materials to be brought to his cell, and that those requests were denied.

At the time Plaintiff received the order, he was in the SHU pending release and transfer to Corcoran State Prison. His housing facility was on modified program and only inmates with legal deadlines were permitted to access the law library. Plaintiff filed numerous requests seeking the information requested by the court.

On November 5, 2008, Plaintiff was instructed to pack his property because he was being transferred to the general population at CCI. Instead, Plaintiff was placed in Ad-Seg pending available bed space and his property was left in R&R at his other housing facility. Plaintiff asked numerous officers for his property and told them that he had a legal deadline. He also filed numerous appeals and inmate requests. However, he did not receive his legal property.

Plaintiff requested an extension of time and was granted until December 12, 2009, to file a response to the order to show cause. During this time, Plaintiff continued to request his legal property and access to the law library, but his requests were either ignored or denied.

He alleges that on December 11, 2009, he filed a declaration, objection and letter to the judge "as a last ...


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