United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
KENDALL J. NEWMAN, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel. Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and has applied to proceed in forma pauperis. Plaintiff's motion for a temporary restraining order is presently before the court. For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned recommends that plaintiff's motion be granted.
This action commenced on November 4, 2014. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff alleges in his complaint that his deadline for submitting a habeas corpus petition to the California Supreme Court is November 25, 2014. He further alleges that prison officials have repeatedly refused to allow him to make copies longer than 50 pages, and also refused to let him to copy his petition in piecemeal increments. As a result, plaintiff has been unable to make sufficient copies of his petition for filing with the state Supreme Court. The complaint seeks injunctive relief and unspecified monetary damages.
Together with his complaint, plaintiff filed a motion for a temporary restraining order that would prevent the defendants "from denying plaintiff copying of Habeas Corpus writ of criminal conviction to further his legal proceedings." (ECF No. 3 at 2.) The moving papers provide that plaintiff's petition consists of 169 pages of written documents and 200 pages of exhibits. (Id.) In a supporting declaration, plaintiff asserts that he provided staff with a written explanation of the need to make copies greater than 50 pages in length. (ECF No. 3 at 6.)
II. Legal Standard
Plaintiff seeks a temporary restraining order. A temporary restraining order is an extraordinary and temporary "fix" that the court may issue without notice to the adverse party if, in an affidavit or verified complaint, the movant "clearly show[s] that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result to the movant before the adverse party can be heard in opposition." Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(b)(1)(A). The purpose of a temporary restraining order is to preserve the status quo pending a fuller hearing. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 65. It is the practice of this district to construe a motion for temporary restraining order as a motion for preliminary injunction. Local Rule 231(a); see also Aiello v. OneWest Bank, No. 2:10-cv-0227-GEB-EFB , 2010 WL 406092 at *1 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 29, 2010) ("Temporary restraining orders are governed by the same standard applicable to preliminary injunctions.") (internal quotation and citations omitted).
The party requesting preliminary injunctive relief must show that "he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest." Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council , 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008). The propriety of a request for injunctive relief hinges on a significant threat of irreparable injury that must be imminent in nature. Caribbean Marine Serv. Co. v. Baldridge , 844 F.2d 668, 674 (9th Cir. 1988).
Alternatively, under the so-called sliding scale approach, as long as the plaintiff demonstrates the requisite likelihood of irreparable harm and can show that an injunction is in the public interest, a preliminary injunction may issue so long as serious questions going to the merits of the case are raised and the balance of hardships tips sharply in plaintiff's favor. Alliance for Wild Rockies v. Cottrell , 632 F.3d 1127, 1131-36 (9th Cir. 2011) (concluding that the "serious questions" version of the sliding scale test for preliminary injunctions remains viable after Winter).
The principal purpose of preliminary injunctive relief is to preserve the court's power to render a meaningful decision after a trial on the merits. See 11A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2947 (3d ed. 2014). Implicit in this required showing is that the relief awarded is only temporary and there will be a full hearing on the merits of the claims raised in the injunction when the action is brought to trial.
In cases brought by prisoners involving conditions of confinement, any preliminary injunction "must be narrowly drawn, extend no further than necessary to correct the harm the court finds requires preliminary relief, and be the least intrusive means necessary to correct the harm." 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(2).
A. Likelihood of success on the merits
In order to qualify for preliminary injunctive relief, plaintiff must first demonstrate a likelihood that he will ...