United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING DISMISSAL OF THE COMPLAINT WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND
GARY S. AUSTIN, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Styauno Carter ("Plaintiff"), appearing pro se and proceeding in forma pauperis, filed the complaint in this action on November 20, 2014. Doc. 1. Plaintiff brings a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Fresno County Public Defenders' office, Miguel Lopez, an attorney at the Public Defender's Office, and an unnamed court-appointed attorney and investigator from Ciummo and Associates, the alternate public defender for Fresno County (collectively, "Defendants"). Doc. 1 at 2. Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants violated his constitutional rights in the course of representing him in a criminal action evidently pending in the Fresno County Superior Court. Upon an initial review of Plaintiff's complaint for legal sufficiency pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court recommends that the complaint be dismissed in its entirety, without leave to amend.
A. Screening Standard
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the court must conduct an initial review of the complaint for sufficiency to state a claim. The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if it determines that the action is legally "frivolous or malicious, " fails to state a claim upon 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). If the court determines that the complaint fails to state a claim, leave to amend may be granted to the extent that the deficiencies in the complaint can be cured by amendment. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127 (9th Cir. 2000).
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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 2017state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). More specifically, the plaintiff must present sufficient factual allegations as to each claim against each defendant. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting Iqbal's plausibility standard. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949-50; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969. While well-pleaded factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.
Pleadings of pro se plaintiffs "must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (holding that pro se complaints should continue to be liberally construed after Iqbal ). Accordingly, pro se plaintiffs are afforded the benefit of any doubt. Id.
B. Plaintiff's Allegations
Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against his public defender (Miguel Lopez), the Fresno County Public Defenders' office, and an unnamed court-appointed attorney and investigator from the alternate public defender's office (Ciummo and Associates), all of whom apparently represented him-or, in the case of the investigator, worked at the direction of Plaintiff's attorney-in a criminal case pending in the Fresno County Superior Court. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that "[t]he Defendants have violated [his] civil rights to due process and equal protection under the law and the right to adequate and effective representation." Doc. 1 at 3. Plaintiff seeks an "injunctive order, compelling the investigation of legal malpractice regarding the criminal case proceedings and illegal pleas as well as misconduct by officers of the Court." Doc. 1 at 4. In addition, Plaintiff seeks "professional sanctions" and "monetary damages equal to lost wages and punitive damages based on preventable incarceration." Doc. 1 at 4.
1. The Defendants Cannot be Liable under § 1983 Because they are not Sate Actors
The Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, provides as follows:
Every person who, under color of [state law]... subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States... to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution... shall be liable to the party injured in an ...