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Saavedra v. Kernan

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 20, 2017

MICHAEL A. SAAVEDRA, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTT KERNAN, ET AL., Defendants.

          DISCOVERY ORDER FOLLOWING RULE 16 SCHEDULING CONFERENCE ORDER GRANTING LIMITED STAY OF DISCOVERY TO FACILITATE EARLY SETTLEMENT DISCUSSIONS

         Michael Anthony Saavedra ("Plaintiff) was a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated.

         Plaintiff filed the Complaint commencing this action on July 25, 2013. (ECF No. 1.) On August 24, 2015, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 15.) This case is proceeding on Plaintiffs claims found cognizable by the Court after screening the First Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A on June 27, 2016.[1] (ECF Nos. 18-21.)

         The cognizable claims in the First Amended Complaint are based primarily on allegations that Plaintiff was wrongfully retained in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) in solitary confinement for over a decade on the basis of coerced, erroneous, false, unreliable and unreasonable allegations of gang activity without Due Process of the law. He claims that he was not given sufficient notice of information used to validate his gang membership, could not adequately prepare and present his views, did not have a meaningful opportunity to present any views to the critical decision maker, and was not given any meaningful periodic review.

         This Court conducted a mandatory scheduling conference on September 26, 2016. Plaintiff Michael A. Saavedra appeared on his own behalf. Counsel Laraya M. Parnell telephonically appeared on behalf of the Defendants. Various issues concerning discovery were addressed in the hearing. This order addresses two of the issues: 1) the production/briefing schedule concerning claims of privilege/confidentiality regarding documents related to Plaintiffs gang revalidation; and 2) the stay of discovery to facilitate early settlement negotiations.

         A. Legal Standard

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "should be construed, administered, and employed by the court and the parties to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding." Fed.R.Civ.P. 1. "Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Furthermore, discoverable information "need not be admissible in evidence." Id.

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16, "[a]t any pretrial conference, the court may consider and take appropriate action on the following matters: . . . controlling and scheduling discovery, including orders affecting disclosures and discovery under Rule 26 and Rules 29 through 37" and "facilitating in other ways the just, speedy, and inexpensive disposition of the action." Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(c)(2)(F). See also Little v. City of Seattle, 863 F.2d 681, 685 (9th Cir. 1988) ("The district court has wide discretion in controlling discovery.") Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16 vests the district court with early control over cases "toward a process of judicial management that embraces the entire pretrial phase, especially motions and discovery." In re Arizona, 528 F.3d 652, 655 (9th Cir. 2008) (affirming district court's requiring that prison officials prepare a Martinez report to give detailed factual information involving a prisoner's suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and stating "district courts have wide latitude in controlling discovery").

         B. Production/Briefing Schedule re: Gang Revalidation Documents

         Based on the allegations of this case, which largely concern the sufficiency of the evidence used to validate Plaintiff as a gang member, as well as information provided in the initial disclosures process, it is clear that discoverability of evidence used to validate Plaintiffs gang membership will be an important discovery issue in this case. At the initial scheduling conference, Plaintiff took the position that he would seek such evidence, and indeed had a due process right to review such evidence. Defendants took the position that such evidence was confidential and would not be disclosed to the Plaintiff in discovery.

         Accordingly, pursuant to its Rule 16 authority, the Court set forth a briefing schedule for resolving claims of privilege and/or confidentiality regarding the gang revalidation documents during the discovery period:[2]

• To the extent Defendants claim that any documents or evidence used to validate or revalidate Plaintiffs gang membership should be withheld from Plaintiff during discovery, due to confidentiality or privilege, they should file a motion on or before May 22, 2017, setting forth their argument. Defendants shall provide the Court with a privilege log providing sufficient identification of the documents Defendants claim to be confidential/privileged.
• On or before June 19, 2017, Plaintiff may file a response to the motion.
• On or before July 3, 2017, Defendants may file a reply.

The Court will take the issue under submission at this time. The Court may require in camera review of ...


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