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Simpson v. King

United States District Court, E.D. California

December 31, 2014

EARL SIMPSON, Petitioner,
v.
AUDREY KING, Executive Director of Coalinga State Hospital, and CLIFFORD ALLENBY, Chief Director of California Mental Health Services, Respondent.

ORDER DISMISSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS WITH LEAVE TO AMEND

SANDRA M. SNYDER, Magistrate Judge.

Screening Order

Petitioner Earl Simpson is a former state prisoner who has been civilly committed to Coalinga State Hospital pursuant to California Penal Code § 2972. On October 21, 2014, Petitioner filed a document entitled "Petition for Writ of Mandamus and Prohibition and Requesting to Vacate an Order of Judgment." The Court has reviewed the petition and dismisses it, with leave to amend, for failure to state a cognizable claim.

I. Screening Requirement

The court has inherent power to control its docket and the disposition of its cases with economy of time and effort for both the court and the parties. Landis v. North American Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254-55 (1936); Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1260 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 915 (1992). In cases in which the plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, the Court must screen the pleadings and dismiss them at any time that the Court concludes that the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that... the action or appeal... fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

In screening the pleadings, the Court does not rule on the merits of the proposed action. Instead, it evaluates whether the pleadings set forth facts sufficient to render each claim cognizable. The screening process does not substitute for any subsequent motion that a defendant may elect to bring later to challenge the sufficiency of the claim(s). See Teahan v. Wilhelm, 481 F.Supp.2d 1115, 1120 (S.D.Cal. 2007).

II. Pleading Standards

A. Section 1983 Complaint or Habeas Corpus Petition?

Because of the vague and incomplete allegations of the petition, the Court is uncertain of the exact nature of Petitioner's claim. Challenges to the conditions of prison life are properly brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. McCarthy v. Bronson, 500 U.S. 136, 142 (1991). A federal petition for writ of habeas corpus concerns whether a petitioner is in custody in violation of the Constitution. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). "Habeas corpus is the exclusive remedy for a state prisoner who challenges the fact or duration of his confinement and seeks immediate or speedier release, even though such a claim may come within the literal terms of § 1983." Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 488-89 (1973). A plaintiff may not seek both types of relief in a single action. See Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487-88 (1994); Preiser, 411 U.S. at 498-99 n. 15; Young v. Kenny, 907 F.2d 874 (9th Cir. 1990), cert. denied sub nom Bressman v. Farrier, 498 U.S. 1126 (1991); Advisory Committee Notes to Rule 1 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases.

B. Civil Claims, In General

To the extent that Petitioner intended to file a civil action, such as a civil rights claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) provides:

A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain:
(1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction, unless the court already has jurisdiction and the claim ...

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