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Hunter v. Briggs

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 24, 2017

JOHN D. HUNTER, Plaintiff,
v.
R. L. BRIGGS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER OF PARTIAL SERVICE

          JON S. TIGAR United States District Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, an inmate at San Quentin State Prison (“SQSP”), filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His amended complaint (Dkt. No. 7) is now before the Court for review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         ANALYSIS

         A. 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 from an officer or an 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. See 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). “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). “[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 under the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

         B. Complaint

         According to the amended complaint, prior to September 2014, per SQSP policy, indigent inmates could obtain paper for free by requesting it at the law library. Dkt. No. 7 at 6. Starting in September 2014, SQSP inmates were informed that paper could no longer be obtained from the law library, and instead paper would be distributed within the housing units and at 13 Wall Gate. Id. In practice, this new policy deprived Plaintiff and other indigent inmates of paper because the housing units and 13 Wall Gate did not distribute paper, sometimes claiming ignorance of the new policy and at other times stating that they did not have any paper. Id. at 8, 10, 16. Plaintiff alleges that the deprivation of paper has interfered with his access to the courts because it has hindered his ability to conduct legal research and to file timely motions. Id. In addition, because Plaintiff was unable to obtain paper, he was unable to file a court-ordered amended complaint in Hunter v. Baca, C No. BC533514, resulting in the dismissal of that case on March 12, 2015. Dkt. No. 7 at 16 and No. 7-1 at 11. Plaintiff also alleges that CDCR has failed to provide an adequate law library because the SQSP law library fails to provide pens and envelopes to indigent inmates. Dkt. No. 7 at 12-14.

         Plaintiff names the following prison officials as defendants: SQSP Deputy Warden Kelly Mitchell, SQSP Principal of Education Anthony Beebe, SQSP Sergeants Tienne and Polano, and SQSP Correctional Officers Cain and Irello. Plaintiff alleges that during the relevant time period he informed all named defendants that he needed, and was unable to obtain, paper and that all defendants denied his request for paper. Dkt. No. 7 at 9. Plaintiff further alleges that Deputy Warden Mitchell, Principal Beebe, and Sgt. Tienne failed to train and supervise their employees to properly implement the new paper distribution policy. Id. at 8-9.

         C. Claims

         Plaintiff alleges that SQSP's failure to distribute paper to indigent inmates has denied him access to the courts; violates the Equal Protection Clause; and violates his Sixth Amendment right to self-representation. Plaintiff also alleges that CDCR has failed to provide the constitutionally required adequate law library because the SQSP law library does not provide pen and envelopes to indigent inmates.

         1. Right to ...


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