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Jackson v. Barnes

United States District Court, C.D. California

March 3, 2015

MICHAEL BARNES, et al., Defendants.


RALPH ZAREFSKY, Magistrate Judge.

The Court will dismiss the Second Amended Complaint with leave to amend. As further explained below, dismissal is warranted because the complaint (1) improperly groups multiple claims for relief under a single heading; (2) provides no "short and plain" statement showing his entitlement to relief and instead fills the complaint with speechifying and argument; and (3) improperly targets the two individual defendants in their official capacity.



This case has a long history, having been filed in 2004 based on events dating back to 1992. What follows is a synopsis of the key events necessary for evaluating the Second Amended Complaint that Plaintiff recently filed.

Plaintiff Frederick Lee Jackson, a pro se state inmate, seeks damages for a violation of his Miranda rights related to his 1995 trial for a 1992 murder and rape. He was convicted of both crimes, with a special-circumstance finding that the murder occurred "while [Plaintiff] was engaged in" the rape. Plaintiff's jury had heard evidence of then-Ventura County Sheriff's Sergeant Robert Barnes's un- Mirandized interview of Plaintiff, who was already in prison for an unrelated parole violation, in December 1993. See generally Jackson v. Barnes, 749 F.3d 755, 758-59 (9th Cir. 2014) ( Jackson II ) (summarizing background in appeal of summary judgment in this case). In that interview, Plaintiff admitted that he "just happened to be there" when the murder occurred. He thereby unwittingly contradicted his alibi defense, which the jury also had heard, and corroborated the state's-evidence testimony of one of Plaintiff's companions at the time of the rape. In March of 2004 the Ninth Circuit upheld one of Plaintiff's habeas corpus claims, namely that the admission of the Barnes interview evidence was non-harmless Miranda error. The appellate court directed that Plaintiff must be either retried or released from the 1995 murder sentence. Plaintiff's rape conviction was left undisturbed. See generally Jackson v. Giurbino, 364 F.3d 1002 (9th Cir. 2004) ( Jackson I ).

Plaintiff filed this civil rights action thereafter, in September of 2004. In the First Amended Complaint, he asserted three claims for relief, all based on alleged violations of his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights arising from now-retired Sergeant Barnes's interrogation of him without renewed Miranda warnings. In addition to Barnes, whom Plaintiff sued in his official and individual capacities, the First Amended Complaint targeted the Ventura County Sheriff's Department (VCSD), the Ventura County District Attorney's Office (VCDA) and the prosecutor in the 1995 trial, Patricia Murphy. His claims in the First Amended Petition were as follows:

Claim 1: Against Barnes for the interview itself, in violation of Plaintiff's Fifth Amendment rights as set forth in Miranda.

Claim 2: Against Murphy and the VCDA, and perhaps Barnes, for conspiring maliciously to prosecute Plaintiff with what he alleges was "a weak case."

Claim 3: Against the VCSD for having a "policy of inaction" permitting Barnes routinely to conduct un- Mirandized interviews such as the one with Plaintiff on December 28, 1993.

While this civil rights action was pending, Plaintiff was retried in 2005. ("[A]t the time of Jackson's first conviction, " the Ninth Circuit explained, Plaintiff "had already begun to serve 29 years for various unrelated convictions. His earliest release date for those convictions, along with the rape conviction on which this Court denied relief, was in 2007, two years after Jackson was convicted for the second time." Jackson II, 749 F.3d at 762.) The new jury, having heard no evidence of the tainted interview, nevertheless re-convicted Plaintiff of murder but this time rejected the special circumstance.

This Court granted summary judgment for Defendants in 2009.

In 2014, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, except as to the county district attorney's office, which, the Ninth Circuit agreed, enjoyed Eleventh Amendment immunity as an arm of the state. The appellate court ended its opinion as follows:

In conclusion, we reverse the district court's rulings with respect to all three of Jackson's claims in whole or in part. Regarding Jackson's claim that Barnes violated his Fifth Amendment rights by interrogating him without giving him the requisite Miranda warnings, we hold that the claim is neither Heck -barred nor time-barred and that Jackson may be able to show that he is entitled to damages, if only nominal; we therefore reverse the district court's grant of summary judgment to Barnes. As to Jackson's claim that the Ventura County Sheriff's Department violated his Fifth Amendment rights by failing to supervise Barnes, we reverse the district court's judgment on the pleadings for the Sheriff's Department because Jackson has sufficiently pleaded a "policy of inaction" for which the Sheriff's Department, as a county actor, is subject to suit under ยง 1983. Finally, we affirm the district court's dismissal of Jackson's claim against the District Attorney's Office, but instruct it to grant Jackson leave to amend his complaint to state a claim against Murphy [for acting as an investigator rather than as a prosecutor].

749 F.3d at 767.

On September 15, 2014, after receiving the Mandate, this Court issued an order [ECF 110] stating, among other things, "In keeping with the final sentence of the underlying Ninth Circuit opinion, the Court GRANTS Petitioner leave to file a Second Amended Complaint so as to advance a prosecutorial misconduct claim against then-District Attorney Patricia Murphy." (Because Petitioner was represented by appointed counsel on appeal but had been pro se in this Court, the Court directed that the September 15 order be served on Petitioner's appellate attorney and on Petitioner himself.) Eight weeks later, Petitioner still had not filed a Second Amended Complaint. Accordingly, on November 12, the Court issued an order [ECF 112] pointing out Petitioner's failure and stating that the action would proceed on the remanded claims in the still-operative First Amended Complaint. A month later on December 15, Petitioner objected to that ruling, noting that the September 15 leave-to-amend order did not set any specific deadline for filing his Second Amended Complaint. ...

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