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Bruce v. Woodford

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 30, 2014

VINCENT C. BRUCE, Plaintiff,
v.
JEANNE WOODFORD, et al., Defendants.

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS (ECF Nos. 154, 155)

BARBARA A. McAULIFFE, Magistrate Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Vincent C. Bruce ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action proceeds on Plaintiff's claims against: (1) Defendants Adams, Hense, Ward, Clark, Fulks, Wan, Frauenheim, Lloren, Fields, and Tripp for retaliation in violation of the First Amendment; (2) Defendants Adams, Hense, Ward, Clark, Fulks, Wan, Lloren, Fields, and Tripp for violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and (3) Defendants Adams, Schottgen, and Fields for failing to provide Plaintiff with adequate clothing in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Currently pending before the Court is Plaintiff's motion, filed on November 22, 2013, seeking to compel Defendants' production of documents. (ECF No. 154.) Plaintiff also filed a request for judicial notice. (ECF No. 155.) Defendants opposed the motion and the request for judicial notice on December 10, 2013. (ECF Nos. 158, 159.) Plaintiff replied on January 15, 2014. (ECF Nos. 163, 164.) The motion is deemed submitted. Local Rule 230(l).

II. Request for Judicial Notice

Plaintiff requests that the Court take judicial notice of a letter dated October 17, 2011, from the Office of the Inspector General of California to State Senator Darrell Steinberg, Chair of the Senate Rules Committee, regarding the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's response to an inmate hunger strike occurring between July 1 and July 20, 2011. Defendants contend that the letter is not the type of matter that can be judicially noticed under Federal Rule of Evidence 201 and does not relate to the hunger strike in this case, which occurred in 2004.

As discussed more fully below, Plaintiff's reference to the October 17, 2011 letter does not relate to the instant action and is not relevant to the hunger strike in this case. Accordingly, Plaintiff's request for judicial notice is denied.

III. Motion to Compel Responses to Requests for Production of Documents[1]

A party may serve on any other party a request within the scope of Rule 26(b) to produce and permit the requesting party or its representative to inspect, copy, test, or sample the following items in the responding party's possession, custody or control: any designated documents or tangible things. Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(a)(1). "Property is deemed within a party's possession, custody, or control' if the party has actual possession, custody, or control thereof or the legal right to obtain the property on demand." Allen v. Woodford , 2007 WL 309945, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 30, 2007) (citing In re Bankers Trust Co. , 61 F.3d 465, 469 (6th Cir. 1995)); accord Bovarie v. Schwarzenegger , 2011 WL 719206, at *4 (S.D. Cal. Feb. 22, 2011); Evans v. Tilton , 2010 WL 1136216, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 19, 2010).

In responding to discovery requests, a reasonable inquiry must be made, and if no responsive documents or tangible things exist, Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(g)(1), the responding party should so state with sufficient specificity to allow the Court to determine whether the party made a reasonable inquiry and exercised due diligence, Uribe v. McKesson , 2010 WL 892093, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 9, 2010). If responsive documents do exist but the responsive party claims lack of possession, control, or custody, the party must so state with sufficient specificity to allow the Court (1) to conclude that the responses were made after a case-specific evaluation and (2) to evaluate the merit of that response. Ochotorena v. Adams , 2010 WL 1035774, at *3-4 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 19, 2010). As with other forms of discovery, boilerplate objections do not suffice. Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(2)(B), (C).

A. Request for Production of Documents (POD) No. 5 - Set One

POD 5: Any and all documents including those issued by the CDCR Director's Office that pertain to the placement, retention and release of inmates from administrative segregation in 2004-2005.

Original Response: Defendants do not have any responsive documents in their possession, custody, or control.

Supplemental Response: Defendants object to this request on the grounds that it is overbroad, unduly burdensome, and is not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. It also seeks confidential information the disclosure of which could violate the privacy rights of individuals who are not parties to this lawsuit and could compromise the safety and security of the institution, its staff members, the inmates and the community. Finally, it seeks information that is protected from disclosure by the official information privilege. Cal. Code Regs. Tit. 15, §§ 3321, 3450(d); Cal Penal Code § 832; Cal. Evid. Code § 1043; 5 U.S.C. § 552; Sanchez v. City of Santa Ana, 936 F.2d 1027, 1033 (9th Cir. 1991); Kerr v. U.S. Dist. Court, 511 F.2d 192, 198-99 (9th Cir. 1975); Hampton v. City of San Diego, 147 F.R.D. 227, 229-30 (S.D. Cal. 1993); Jackson v. County of Sacramento, 175 F.R.D. 653 (E.D. Cal. 1997).

Without waiving these objections, Defendants respond as follows: Defendants will produce Operation Procedure No. 100 (Revised 2005); Memorandum with attachments from the Acting Deputy Director dated July 28, 2005: Memorandum with attachments from the Acting Deputy Director dated May 9, 2005; and Memorandum with attachments from the Deputy Director dated May 12, 2004. See attached. More general information is also available in the Department Operations Manual and the California Code of Regulations, both of which are available to Plaintiff.

Ruling: Plaintiff's motion to compel is denied.

Plaintiff argues that Defendants have maintained manuals and memoranda that specifically address the circumstances under which he was confined by Defendants. Namely, a SHU Term Assessment Handbook and a Senior Hearing Officer's Manual existing in 1999. (ECF No. 154, pp. 9-10.) Plaintiff also claims that Defendants have only produced an insignificant portion of available documents. He seeks to review the memoranda maintained by the CDCR Classification Services as well as the SHU Term Assessment Handbook.

Defendants counter that Plaintiff's request was overbroad, making it difficult to ascertain the documents that Plaintiff sought to receive. Defendants now indicate that the non-confidential memoranda maintained by the CDCR Classification Committee are already available to Plaintiff in the law library or through the Litigation Coordinator's Office at his institution. Defendants also represent that CDCR does not create or maintain any official "SHU Term Assessment Handbook" and that a search of the records did not locate any such handbook created by any individual officer during the time period that is relevant to this case.

Based on Plaintiff's moving papers, Defendants have now informed Plaintiff of the location of any non-confidential memoranda maintained by the CDCR Classification Committee and have indicated that these documents are readily available to Plaintiff. With regard to the "SHU Term Assessment Handbook, " Defendants have represented that CDCR does not create or maintain such a handbook. The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's moving papers and exhibits, but does not find evidence that CDCR created or maintained such a handbook during the relevant time period. With regard to the Senior Hearing Officer's Manual, the Court has addressed this document in its order regarding Defendants' responses to interrogatories issued on September 9, 2014. (ECF No. 176.)

For the reasons stated, the Court will not compel Defendants to produce documents equally available to Plaintiff or documents not created or ...


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