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Wilkins v. Stanislaus County

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 2, 2017

STANISLAUS COUNTY, et al., Defendants.



         I. Screening Requirement and Standard

         Plaintiff Keenan Wilkins (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's complaint, filed on December 12, 2016, is currently before the Court for screening. (ECF No. 1.)

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff's complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         A complaint 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)). While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         To survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. United States Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         II. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff is currently housed at R. J. Donovan Correctional Facility. Plaintiff names the following defendants in their individual and official capacities: (1) Stanislaus County; (2) Rebecca J. Fleming, Clerk/Executive Officer; (3) Angela Segundo, Deputy Clerk; (4) Gloria Green, Deputy Clerk; (5) Jared D. Beeson, Research Attorney; (6) G. James, Deputy Clerk; (7) Michelle Salcido, Deputy Clerk; (8) Julie C. Dodge, Family Law Facilitator.

         Plaintiff asserts that multiple Stanislaus County officials acted or conspired to deny and interfere with his rights to Equal Protection, Due Process and Access to Courts in the Stanislaus County family law action titled Wilkins v. Wilkins, No. 686620. Plaintiff repeatedly attempted to serve and file motions and pleadings, but the clerks allegedly failed in their duty to file the submissions. Plaintiff contends that he was prejudiced and injured in the action, which threated his parental, custody, property and financial rights.

         Plaintiff alleges that he was served with “the action, ” which the Court construes as the family law action titled Wilkins v. Wilkins, No. 686620. On February 4, 2013, Plaintiff served a motion for appointment of counsel. Thereafter, on April 22, May 13, May 20 and May 27, 2013, Plaintiff served notice, letters and objections that he had not received any ruling on his motion for counsel. Plaintiff requested status, but his correspondence was ignored. Plaintiff subsequently learned in June 2013 from Defendant Dodge that the court issued an order on February 8, 2013 denying counsel. The order also allowed Plaintiff to appear at hearings by phone after he timely files a response. Plaintiff alleges that the judge's clerk, Defendant James, never sent Plaintiff this order. Stanislaus County Research Attorney, Defendant Beeson, filed an informal response to Plaintiff's mandate petition admitting the order was never served on Plaintiff. Plaintiff claims that he was prejudiced with a default judgment on April 11, 2013.

         On March 11, 2013, Plaintiff received a response and documents from Defendant Segundo. Plaintiff completed the forms and returned them to Defendant Segundo with a notice/letter. The response was not filed, and was returned to Plaintiff with no reason or explanation on March 27, 2013. Plaintiff resubmitted the documents to the Court on March 28, 2013, with a notice to Defendant Segundo regarding Plaintiff's confusion. The documents were not filed, and on April 11, 2013, a default judgment was granted against him. Plaintiff alleges that default was entered by Defendant Salcido, but he was not served and had to seek relief from the default judgment.

         Plaintiff further alleges that his correspondence apparently was forwarded to Defendant Dodge, the Stanislaus County Family Law Facilitator. On April 30, 2013, Defendant Dodge wrote Plaintiff a letter informing Plaintiff that counsel could not be provided in a family law case. Defendant Dodge also reported that she had reviewed all of Plaintiff's prior correspondence, but Plaintiff alleges that she failed to provide any information about what Plaintiff needed to do and failed to take any action as the family law facilitator to help him.

         On June 26, 2013, Plaintiff filed a writ of mandate in the Court of Appeal. The appellate court reportedly ordered an informal response. Defendant Beeson filed an informal response dated July 24, 2013. Defendant Beeson allegedly informed the court that Plaintiff's action did not warrant appointment of counsel because it was not a bona fide civil action threatening his interests. Plaintiff asserts, however, that he lost custody, parental, visitation, property, finances and assets in the judgment. The appellate court denied the petition on July 31, 2013.

         Plaintiff filed a request for relief from default on June 19, 2013, which was granted. Plaintiff then began to serve numerous motions that were not filed by the family law clerk, Defendant James. One of the ...

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