United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION; DENYING PETITIONER'S SECOND MOTION FOR RESPONDENT TO PROVIDE COPIES OF LODGMENTS AND TRANSCRIPTS; AND GRANTING PETITIONER AN EXTENSION OF TIME TO FILE OBJECTIONS TO R&R [Dkt. Nos. 77, 79.]
GONZALO P. CURIEL, District Judge.
On December 8, 2014, Petitioner, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a motion for reconsideration of the Court's order denying Petitioner's motion for any and all relief filed on November 21, 2014, and a second motion for Respondent to provide copies of Lodgments and Transcripts. (Dkt. Nos. 77, 79.) Petitioner also filed a separate "notice" where he states that as of December 1, 2014 he is still being denied his legal documents. (Dkt. No. 81.) Based on the reasoning below, the Court DENIES Petitioner's motions. However, the Court GRANTS Petitioner's request for a copy of the report and recommendation ("R&R") filed on June 6, 2014, (Dkt. No. 55).
On May 17, 2013, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Dkt. No. 1.) A response was filed by Respondents on October 25, 2013 along with a Notice of Lodgment of State Court Record. (Dkt. Nos. 27, 28.) On November 12, 2013, Respondent filed a Supplemental Notice of Lodgment. (Dkt. No. 32.) A traverse was filed by Petitioner on November 25, 2013. (Dkt. No. 40.) On June 6, 2014, the Magistrate Judge issued a report and recommendation denying the petition for writ of habeas corpus. (Dkt. No. 44.) On July 14, 2014, the Court granted Petitioner's request for extension of time to file an objection to the report and recommendation until August 15, 2014. (Dkt. No. 58.) On September 16, 2014, the Court granted Petitioner additional time to file an objections since he attempted to file a request for extension of time to file an objection with the Magistrate Judge. (Dkt. No. 63.) On October 16, 2014, Petitioner filed a notice of change of address. (Dkt. No. 59.) On October 28, 2014, the Court granted Petitioner's request for additional time to file an objection to the report and recommendation to December 19, 2014. (Dkt. No. 67.) On November 14, 2014, Petitioner filed another notice of change of address. (Dkt. No. 71.) On November 21, 2014, based on the response by Respondent, the Court denied Petitioner's motion for any and all relief seeking access to his legal documents and granted Petitioner until January 16, 2015 to file an objection to the report and recommendation. (Dkt. No. 73.) Then, on December 8, 2014, Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the Court's order denying his motion for any and all relief, and a second motion for Respondents to provide copies of Lodgments and Transcripts. (Dkt. Nos. 77, 79.) He also filed a "Notice" stating that as of December 1, 2014, he has not yet received his legal documents. (Dkt. No. 81.)
A. Motion for Reconsideration
Petitioner asks the Court to reconsider its denial of Petitioner's motion for any and all relief because Petitioner is still being denied his legal documents and access to the law library. (Dkt. No. 79.) On November 21, 2014, the Court denied Plaintiff's motion for any and all relief seeking access to his legal materials because Respondent represented that Petitioner should now have access to his legal materials due to his recent move to a new facility. (Dkt. No. 73.) On November 6, 2014, he was transferred to California Health Care Facility in Stockton, California. (Dkt. No. 72.) The California Health Care Facility "provides medical care and mental health treatment to inmates who have the most severe and long term needs." (See http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Facilities_Locator/CHCF.html In the order, the Court also extended the deadline for Petitioner to file an objection to the report and recommendation to January 16, 2015.
1. Access to the Law Library
The Court notes that this is Petitioner's first request for access to the law library since his previous motion for any and all relief only concerned his request for his legal property. Therefore, the standard for reconsideration does not apply to his request for access to the law library.
Petitioner states that he made a request for library access and attached the Court's order, filed on November 21, 2014, denying his motion for any and all relief which also set a deadline for Petitioner to file an objection to the R&R. Petitioner alleges that his request was denied on December 1, 2014. A review of the supporting documents submitted by Petitioner reveal that he submitted a Request for Priority Library User ("PLU") status on 11/26/14. (Dkt. No. 79 at 27.) On several questions where the form requested the date of a court deadlines, Petitioner wrote "Past Due". (Dkt. No. 79 at 27.) Based on these responses, the prison official denied PLU status and wrote "No current date/court rule provided that compels the deadline for an active court case." (Id.) The pre-printed form states that prior to granting a PLU request, prison staff must verify that the requesting inmate has a valid court deadline that has been established by a court, statute or rules of court. (Id.) It appears that since Petitioner did not have any upcoming deadlines, his request for PLU status was denied.
Petitioner also provided two CDCR 22 forms where Petitioner sought copies of, inter alia, his c-file record, requested his legal property from PLU, requested legal copies and requested computation review hearing and corrected custody service. (Dkt. No. 79 at 28, 29.) These requests were received by the prison staff on November 24, 2014. (Id.) A response to each item was dated December 2, 2014. (Id.) None of the forms requested access to the law library.
The documents Petitioner provided do not support his argument that he made a request for access to the law library and attached a copy of the Court's order setting a deadline of January 15, 2015 for filing objections to the R&R. Moreover, none of the CDCR 22 forms sought access to the law library. Therefore, the Court concludes that Petitioner's argument that he has been denied access to the law library is not supported.
Moreover, even if the request for access to the law library were proper, it is without merit. While prisoners have a constitutional right to access to the courts, Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 350 (1996); Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 820 (1977), the right of access only applies to the pleading stages of a case. Cornett v. Donovan, 51 F.3d 894, 898 (9th Cir. 1995). To ensure meaningful access, states have the affirmative obligation to provide inmate with "adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law." Id. at 828. The Ninth Circuit held that the "constitutional right of access requires a state to provide a law library or legal assistance only during the pleading stage of a habeas or civil rights action. The Supreme Court has delineated the stages of litigation for which the right of access requires assistance and we are not free to expand the scope of the right beyond these limits." Id . Therefore, the right of access to the court is limited to the initiation of a court action. The state is not required to enable the prisoner to "discover" grievances or to "litigate effectively" once in court. See Lewis, 518 U.S. at 354. "The right of access to the courts is only a right to bring complaints to the federal court and not a right to discover such claims or to litigate them effectively once filed with the Court." Liggins v. Hoops, No. ED CV 09-1838-JLS(VBK), 2014 WL 1092551, at *7 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 16, 2014) (citing Lewis, 518 U.S. at 354-355).
Here, Petitioner has no constitutional right to access the law library in trying to file objections to the report and recommendation. See Witkin v. Swarthout, No. 13cv1931 KJN P, 2013 WL 6054451, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 15, 2013) (§ 1983 plaintiff failed to state a cognizable access to the courts claim because the impairment did not occur during the pleading stage where he alleged he was impaired in his ability to file objections to findings and recommendations in past habeas proceedings); Roman v. Allison, No. ...