United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO DISMISS ACTION WITH PREJUDICE FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM (ECF No. 8)
MICHAEL J. SENG, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF Nos. 4 & 8.)
Plaintiff's complaint (ECF No. 1) was dismissed for failure to state a claim, but he was given leave to amend (ECF No. 7). Plaintiff's first amended complaint (ECF No. 8) is before the Court for screening.
I. SCREENING REQUIREMENT
The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally "frivolous, malicious, " or that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). "Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any 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).
II. PLEADING STANDARD
Section 1983 "provides a cause of action for the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States." Wilder v. Virginia Hosp. Ass'n, 496 U.S. 498, 508 (1990) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Section 1983 is not itself a source of substantive rights, but merely provides a method for vindicating federal rights conferred elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989).
To state a claim under § 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 violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Ketchum v. Alameda Cnty., 811 F.2d 1243, 1245 (9th Cir. 1987).
A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id . Facial plausibility demands more than the mere possibility that a defendant committed misconduct and, while factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 677-78.
III. PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS
Plaintiff names as Defendants (1) Stanislaus County District Attorney Goold, (2) Lead Investigator Bill Andrews,  and (3) Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors.
Plaintiff's allegations can be summarized as follows:
In October 1998, Defendant Goold sent Defendant Andrews to search Plaintiff's residence (apparently shared with his girlfriend) and his cell at the Stanislaus County Jail for evidence to rebut Plaintiff's claim of innocence in a murder investigation. Defendant Andrews conducted warrantless searches, retrieved documents from Plaintiff's jail cell and from Plaintiff's girlfriend as she left the courthouse, and read and copied legal documents intended for Plaintiff's attorney detailing inconsistencies in the prosecution's case against him. Defendant Andrews provided these documents to Defendant Goold.
Officials at the jail informed Plaintiff that Defendant Andrews had made copies of his materials, Plaintiff contacted his attorney, and his attorney contacted Defendant Goold. Plaintiff's attorney also sought to dismiss the charges or recuse Defendant Goold from the case. A hearing was held in November 1998. The trial judge apparently credited Defendant Goold's testimony that he had not read the documents at issue or discussed them with Defendant Andrews. ...