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Rodriguez v. Stall

United States District Court, S.D. California

April 23, 2015

PEDRO RODRIGUEZ, Inmate Booking No. 14745493, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT S. STALL; LAURA ENGREM; F. MICHAEL GARCIA; OFFICE OF ASSIGNED COUNSEL; MELISSA MITCHELL; PATRICK ESPINOZA; MATT GRECO; CATHY PIERCE; VANESSA MAGANA; LETICIA LOPEZ-HELDAGO; CITY OF SAN DIEGO; COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, Defendant.

ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR FAILING TO STATE A CLAIM PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) AND § 1915A(b)(1)

LARRY ALAN BURNS, District Judge.

I. Procedural History

On November 5, 2014, Pedro Rodriguez ("Plaintiff"), currently housed at the Vista Detention Facility located in Vista, California, and proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights complaint ("Compl.") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff did not prepay the civil filing fee; instead he filed a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) (Doc. No. 3). The Court GRANTED Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP but simultaneously dismissed his Complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. (Doc. No. 4.) The Court granted Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint in order to correct the deficiencies of pleading identified in the Court's Order. (Id. ) On March 26, 2015, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint ("FAC"). (Doc. No. 10.)

II. Sua Sponte screening per 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) AND 1915A(b)

A. Standard of Review

As the Court previously informed Plaintiff, notwithstanding Plaintiff's IFP status or the payment of any partial filing fees, the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA:) obligates the Court to review complaints filed by all persons proceeding IFP and by those, like Plaintiff, who are "incarcerated or detained in any facility [and] accused of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms or conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or diversionary program, " "as soon as practicable after docketing." See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). Under these statutes, the Court must sua sponte dismiss complaints, or any portions thereof, which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or which seek damages from defendants who are immune. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (§ 1915(e)(2)); Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2010) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)).

All complaints 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)). "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is]... a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. The "mere possibility of misconduct" falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id.; see also Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

"When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity, and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679; see also Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000) ("[W]hen determining whether a complaint states a claim, a court must accept as true all allegations of material fact and must construe those facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff."); Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998) (noting that § 1915(e)(2) "parallels the language of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)").

However, while the court "ha[s] an obligation where the petitioner is pro se, particularly in civil rights cases, to construe the pleadings liberally and to afford the petitioner the benefit of any doubt, " Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 & n.7 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Bretz v. Kelman, 773 F.2d 1026, 1027 n.1 (9th Cir. 1985)), it may not "supply essential elements of claims that were not initially pled." Ivey v. Board of Regents of the University of Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982).

B. Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint

In Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint, he claims that his due process rights have been violated by Defendants in the processing of the criminal charges brought against him. He seeks to hold various deputy district attorneys, along with investigators who work with the deputy district attorneys, liable for these allege constitutional violations. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief in the form of an injunction from this Court "further prosecuting case" and preventing the "use of evidence." (FAC at 8.)

It is not clear whether Plaintiff is currently defending himself in a criminal proceeding or whether he has been convicted and sentenced in a criminal matter. Regardless, it is clear that Plaintiff may not use the Civil Right Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, to reverse a criminal conviction. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 489 (1973) (holding that a writ of habeas corpus is "explicitly and historically designed" to provide a state prisoner with the "exclusive" means to collaterally "attack the validity of his confinement" in federal court). "Suits challenging the validity of the prisoner's continued incarceration lie within the heart of habeas corpus, ' whereas a § 1983 action is a proper remedy for a state prisoner who is making a constitutional challenge to the conditions of his prison life, but not to the fact or length of his custody.'" Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 856 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting Preiser, 411 U.S. at 498-99).

To the extent Plaintiff seeks damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on the false criminal allegations and prosecution, his claims amount to an attack on the validity of his underlying criminal proceeding, and as such, are not addressable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, unless he alleges and can ultimately show that conviction has already been invalidated. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994); see also Harvey v. Waldron, 210 F.3d 1008, 1014-15 (9th Cir. 2000) ( Heck also "applies to pending criminal charges.").

Heck holds that "in order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, a section 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus." Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-87. A claim challenging the legality of a conviction ...


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