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Harris v. Ducart

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 25, 2016

EARNEST S. HARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
CLARK DUCART, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND; DENYING MOTION FOR DISCOVERY RE: DKT. NO. 2

          JON S. TIGAR United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff, a California prisoner incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison and proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging constitutional violations at Pelican Bay State Prison (“PBSP”), where he was previously incarcerated. Plaintiff is granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis in a separate order. His complaint is now before the Court for review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         BACKGROUND

         The complaint alleges the following:

         In late 2008 or early 2009, plaintiff had a petition for rehearing pending in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. After the petition was denied, he attempted to file a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. Because he sought pauper status, he requested an account statement from the PBSP trust account office. Within days, the office notified him that the account statement had been delivered to the PBSP Security Housing Unit (“SHU”) law library and would be provided to him when he was ready to send his legal mail. It was standard PBSP protocol for account statements and other legal mail to be mailed out by the PBSP SHU law library as inmates were not permitted to mail out their own legal mail. Upon being notified that his account statement was ready in the library, plaintiff handed the SHU law library officer his petition for writ of certiorari. The officer sealed the petition in an envelope and said he would mail it. The petition was never mailed, and plaintiff missed his filing deadline. The United States Supreme Court informed plaintiff that they had no record of his case.

         In a separate case the plaintiff had pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, plaintiff was denied a certificate of appealability. Plaintiff again attempted to file a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. Once again, plaintiff waited for confirmation from the PBSP trust account office that his account statement had been delivered to the SHU law library. He then delivered his petition for writ of certiorari. This time, plaintiff followed up with several requests for interviews informing the library that he had a filing deadlines. Initially, plaintiff was informed that the law library had no writs or any other legal documents in his name. Later, two days after his filing deadline had passed, a library officer came to plaintiff with the petition for writ of certiorari. The petition was then mailed. However, the Supreme Court sent it back, informing plaintiff that it would not be filed because he had missed the filing deadline.

         On another occasion, plaintiff sent the law library legal documents to be photocopied for his filing of a state court petition for writ of habeas corpus. He again followed up with a request for interview notifying the library of his filing deadline. The law library held the documents for over two weeks, causing plaintiff to miss his filing deadline and forego the petition.

         Finally, plaintiff asserts that on three separate occasions the PBSP SHU mailroom opened his confidential legal mail and then held it for thirty days before delivering it to plaintiff. The mail was sent from this court. Plaintiff states that the mailroom supervisor for each of these incidents was defendant P. Carrier.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Standard of Review

         A federal court must engage in a preliminary screening of any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review the court must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) (1), (2). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep’t, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” “Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.’” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (citations omitted). Although in order to state a claim a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations, . . . a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the ‘grounds’ of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief’ requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570.

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated; and (2) that the violation was committed by a person acting ...


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