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Chaney v. County of Butte

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 18, 2014

ROBERT L. CHANEY, JR., Plaintiff,
COUNTY OF BUTTE, et al., Defendants.


CRAIG M. KELLISON, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, brings this civil action. Pending before the court is plaintiff's complaint (Doc. 1).

The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court is also required to screen complaints brought by litigants who have been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Under these screening provisions, the court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if it: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(A), (B) and 1915A(b)(1), (2). Moreover, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3), this court must dismiss an action if the court determines that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Because plaintiff, who is not a prisoner, has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis, the court will screen the complaint pursuant to § 1915(e)(2). Pursuant to Rule 12(h)(3), the court will also consider as a threshold matter whether it has subject-matter jurisdiction.


Plaintiff names the following as defendants: County of Butte; Jeffrey Smith; Michael Hannah; Michael Ramsey; Ada Gardener; and J. Stark Modlin (collectively, "county defendants"). As additional defendants, plaintiff names: Butte County Superior Court; Hon. Michael Deems, and Dan Logue.[1] Because plaintiff has not opposed county defendants' motion to dismiss, the court accepts their background statement as follows (citations to plaintiff's complaint omitted):

Plaintiff's 122-page complaint arises out of an incident that occurred at the Butte County Superior Courthouse on November 19, 2013. Plaintiff and several other Constitutionalists attended a judicial proceeding for their fellow Constitutionalist Carl Hans Andersen. Andersen was imprisoned after he instructed several Paradise Police Officers to "stand down, " which eventually led to a physical struggle between Andersen, his son, and the police officers. After Defendant Butte County Superior Court Judge MICHAEL DEEMS called Andersen's case, Plaintiff stood, held a petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus over his head, and yelled: "Robert L. Cheney, Jr., next friend for Carl Hand Andersen, for application for Writ of Habeas Corpus." Judge DEEMS told Plaintiff to sit and Plaintiff complied. Once the court finished calling all its cases on calendar, Judge DEEMS left the courtroom. Plaintiff again tried to present the petition to the court, but the "court guards" instructed him to leave. After arguing with the "court guards, " Plaintiff attempted to place them under citizen's arrest. Plaintiff admits he "fully intended to take over the court, " considering Judge DEEMS had "illegally abandoned" the courtroom, and planned to issue the Writ of Habeas Corpus himself.
After Plaintiff refused to leave the courtroom, Defendant Deputy Sheriff MICHAEL HANNAH told Plaintiff he was going to jail, to which Plaintiff admittedly responded "Fuck you!" Defendant HANNAH then approached Plaintiff and physically subdued him as Plaintiff instructed defendant HANNAH to "cease and desist." Defendant HANNAH physically forced Plaintiff out of the courtroom and into the hallway, where he took Plaintiff to the ground. Plaintiff claims he told Defendant HANNAH and other officers to be careful as they subdued him because his shoulders were "shredded" from playing semi-pro football. Plaintiff admits he screamed at the top of his lungs for approximately two minutes, stating he dislocated his shoulder and was in excruciating pain. While being subdues, Plaintiff claims an officer falsely accused him of hitting a police officer, and that other officers came to assist and stated: "We want in on this too!" and "Stupid Goddam Constitutionalists." Plaintiff alleges he was eventually "dragged" out of the courtroom and transported via police car to Butte County Jail. Plaintiff claims he was never actually put under arrest.
Several times Plaintiff asked for Defendant HANNAH's name. Plaintiff claims Defendant HANNAH twice gave him an incorrect name, calling himself "Prouden" and "Defrow" before admitting his real name was "Hannah." Plaintiff refused to be voluntarily booked, but complied with the orders under protest claiming he had previously been beaten for refusing to book. When asked to sign a Citation and Promise to Appear, Plaintiff signed "Non Assumpsit."

The complaint consists of 119 single-spaced type-written pages with approximately 100 additional pages of referenced exhibits. Plaintiff alleges 13 "counts" for relief, as follows:

Count 1 - Writ of Habeas Corpus Suspension, PC § 1505
Count 2 - Use of Excessive Force, PC § 688
Count 3 - Filing Perjury, False Claims, PC §§ 115, 118
Count 4 - Assault, Beatings, Mayhem, Torture
Count 5 - Beating to Commit Hate Crimes
Count 6 - Obstruction, PL-96-303, Req. Grand ...

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