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Ray v. Deputy Probation Officer Kristen Carter

United States District Court, N.D. California

October 29, 2014

EDWARD VINCENT RAY, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
DEPUTY PROBATION OFFICER KRISTEN CARTER, et al., Defendants.

ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITHOUT PREJUDICE

YVONNE GONZALEZ ROGERS, District Judge.

Plaintiff has filed a pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He has also filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP"), which will be granted in a separate written Order.

In his complaint, Plaintiff has alleged claims against Alameda County Deputy Probation Officer Kristen Carter and Oakland Police Technician C. Cooper. Dkt. 1 at 3-8. He has also alleged a claim for supervisory liability against former Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker and a municipal liability against the Oakland Police Department. Id. at 9-12. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and the "termination of all parties involved." Id. at 3.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review the court must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. at 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

II. Legal Claims

A. Claims Against Defendant Deputy Probation Officer Kristen Carter

Plaintiff claims that Defendant Carter "failed to conduct an adequate investigation into the claimed losses' by [the] alleged victims'." Dkt. 1 at 3. Specifically, Defendant Carter prepared Plaintiff's probation report prior to sentencing and attached "restitution claim forms" (submitted by two victims), which are "uttterly unsupported with documentary evidence as required by law." Id. at 4. In essence, the Court construes Plaintiff's claim to be that Defendant Carter prepared a probation report containing false or, in his words, "unsupported, " statements. Although Plaintiff has not provided any more details to support his allegation Defendant Carter prepared a probation report containing false/unsupported statements, it is not necessary for him to recite more facts because it is readily evident that there is an absolute bar to Plaintiff's claim insofar as it seeks monetary damages from this Defendant. Probation officers possess an absolute judicial immunity from damage suits under section 1983 for official functions bearing a close association to the judicial process. See Demoran v. Witt, 781 F.2d 155, 156-58 (9th Cir. 1985) (immunity for preparing reports for use by state courts). Therefore, Defendant Carter has absolute judicial immunity from Plaintiff's claim for damages for alleged false/unsupported information in his probation report. Therefore, his claims against Defendant Carter are DISMISSED for this reason.

In the event that Plaintiff's claim could also be construed as one that seeks to challenge the restitution aspect of his conviction, such a claim is barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). In Heck, the United States Supreme Court held that in order to recover damages for an allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. 512 U.S. at 486-487. A claim for damages arising from a conviction or sentence that has not been so invalidated is not cognizable under section 1983. Id.

When a state prisoner seeks damages in a section 1983 suit, the district court must consider whether a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of her continued confinement; if it would, the complaint must be dismissed unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the conviction or sentence has already been invalidated. Id. at 487.

Here, as mentioned above, Plaintiff's claim could be construed as a challenge to the validity of the restitution aspect of his conviction, but his conviction has not been invalidated, so such a claim would also be DISMISSED. See Trimble v. City of Santa Rosa, 49 F.3d 583, 585 (9th Cir. ...


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