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Harrison v. Executive Office for United States Attorneys

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 21, 2016

DAVID SCOTT HARRISON, CDCR #T-53894, Plaintiff,
v.
EXECUTIVE OFFICE FOR UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS; Defendants.

          ORDER: (1) GRANTING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS, AND (2) DIRECTING U.S. MARSHAL TO EFFECT SERVICE OF SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915(D) AND FED. R. CIV. P. 4(C)(3) (ECF NOS. 1, 2)

          Hon. Janis L. Sammartino, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff David Scott Harrison is proceeding pro se and is currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison. He has filed an action pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (Compl., ECF No. 1), and a Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (IFP) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) (IFP Mot., ECF No. 2).

         IFP MOTION

         All parties instituting any civil action, suit or proceeding in a district court of the United States, except an application for writ of habeas corpus, must pay a filing fee of $400.[1] See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). An action may proceed despite the plaintiff’s failure to prepay the entire fee only if he is granted leave to proceed IFP pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). See Andrews v. Cervantes, 493 F.3d 1047, 1051 (9th Cir. 2007); Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d 1176, 1177 (9th Cir. 1999). However, if the plaintiff is a prisoner and he is granted leave to proceed IFP, he nevertheless remains obligated to pay the entire fee in “increments, ” Bruce v. Samuels, 136 S.Ct. 627, 629 (2016); Williams v. Paramo, 775 F.3d 1182, 1185 (9th Cir. 2015), regardless of whether his action is ultimately dismissed, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) & (2); Taylor v. Delatoore, 281 F.3d 844, 847 (9th Cir. 2002).

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, as amended by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), a prisoner seeking leave to proceed IFP must also submit a “certified copy of the trust fund account statement (or institutional equivalent) for . . . the six-month period immediately preceding the filing of the complaint.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2); Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1119 (9th Cir. 2005). From the certified trust account statement, the Court assesses an initial payment of 20% of (a) the average monthly deposits in the account for the past six months, or (b) the average monthly balance in the account for the past six months, whichever is greater, unless the prisoner has no assets. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1); Taylor, 281 F.3d at 850. The institution having custody of the prisoner then collects subsequent payments, assessed at 20% of the preceding month’s income, in any month in which the prisoner’s account exceeds $10, and forwards them to the Court until the entire filing fee is paid. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2); Bruce, 136 S.Ct. at 629.

         In support of his IFP Motion, Plaintiff has submitted a certified copy of his trust account statement pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2) and Civil Local Rule 3.2. Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1119. This statement shows Plaintiff has had no monthly deposits to his account, has carried no balance over the six month period preceding the filing of his Complaint, and that his current available balance is zero. (ECF No. 2 at 5; see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4) (“In no event shall a prisoner be prohibited from bringing a civil action or appealing a civil action or criminal judgment for the reason that the prisoner has no assets and no means by which to pay the initial partial filing fee.”); Taylor, 281 F.3d at 850 (finding that 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(4) acts as a “safety-valve” preventing dismissal of a prisoner’s IFP case based solely on a “failure to pay . . . due to the lack of funds available to him when payment is ordered.”).)

         Therefore, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s IFP Motion (ECF No. 2), declines to “exact” any initial filing fee because his trust account statement shows he “has no means to pay it, ” Bruce, 136 S.Ct. at 629, and directs the Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to collect the entire $350 balance of the filing fees required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914 and forward them to the Clerk of the Court pursuant to the installment payment provisions set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). See id.

         INITIAL SCREENING PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(E)(2) AND 1915A

         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner and is proceeding IFP, his complaint requires a pre-answer screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and § 1915A(b). Under these provisions of the PLRA, 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); Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2010) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (discussing § 1915(e)(2)) (en banc). “The purpose of [screening] is ‘to ensure that the targets of frivolous or malicious suits need not bear the expense of responding.’” Nordstrom v. Ryan, 762 F.3d 903, 920 n.1 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Wheeler v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., 689 F.3d 680, 681 (7th Cir. 2012)).

         “The standard for determining whether a plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) standard for failure to state a claim.” Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012); see also Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (noting that screening pursuant to § 1915A “incorporates the familiar standard applied in the context of failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)”). Rule 12(b)(6) requires a complaint “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted); Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1121.

         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 Atl. 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 Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009).

         The Court finds Plaintiff’s complaint sufficient to survive the “low threshold” for proceeding past the sua sponte screening required by 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). See Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1123; Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         CONCLUSION

         Good cause ...


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