[As modified Nov. 12, 2014.]
APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Fresno County No. 12CECG03127. Ralph Nunez, Judge. (Retired judge of the Fresno Sup.Ct. assigned by the Chief Justice pursuant to art. VI, § 6 of the Cal. Const.).
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
James Fredrick Menefield, in pro. per., for Plaintiff and Appellant.
Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Jennifer A. Neill, Assistant Attorney General, Jessica N. Blonien and Yun Hwa Harper, Deputy Attorneys General, for Defendants and Respondents.
Inmate James Fredrick Menefield appeals the denial of his writ of mandate, which sought to compel appeals coordinators at Pleasant Valley State Prison to complete the processing of an inmate appeal submitted by Menefield. His appeal had been cancelled during the screening process on the ground it was duplicative of an earlier appeal.
Menefield contends the appeals coordinators’ duty to process the appeal was ministerial and, because his August 2, 2012, appeal was not duplicative of his June 6, 2012, appeal, they had no discretion to cancel it.
We conclude that appeals coordinators have a ministerial duty to complete the screening of inmate appeals, but exercise discretion when determining if an appeal is duplicative of an earlier appeal. Here, the appeals in question concerned access to the A-Facility chapel by Muslim inmates, but were different in other particulars. Because there was a significant overlap in the issues presented, we conclude the appeals coordinators did not abuse their discretion when they determined the August 2, 2012, appeal was duplicative of Menefield’s June 6, 2012, appeal.
We therefore affirm the judgment denying the petition.
In 2002, a jury convicted Menefield of first degree murder with a firearm enhancement, and the Los Angeles County Superior Court sentenced him to a prison term of 50 years to life.
In 2008, Menefield filed a federal civil rights action against prison officials alleging they violated the religious rights of Muslim prisoners. He sought an injunction compelling the prison officials to provide him access to halal meals that included a halal meat option whenever kosher meat was served or, alternatively, allow him to participate in the kosher meal program. In 2009, a federal district court issued a preliminary injunction. (Menefield v. Cate (E.D.Cal. Oct. 5, 2009, No. C 08-00751 CRB (PR)) 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 96447.)
In 2010, Menefield filed another civil rights action against prison officials. (Menefield v. Yates (E.D.Cal. 2010, No. 1:10-CV-02406 MJS).) Menefield alleged his constitutional rights were violated when officials denied him access to the chapel, banned the use of outside foods at ‘Id festivals, and failed to provide equal treatment to Muslim inmates. (Menefield v. Yates (E.D.Cal. Oct. 24, 2012, No. 1:10-CV-02406 MJS (PC)) 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153001, p. *1.)
That civil rights action was settled in May 2012 when Menefield entered into a written settlement agreement with ...