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Espinoza v. Diaz

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 11, 2017

JOSE J.R. ESPINOZA, Plaintiff,
v.
D. DIAZ, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DISMISSING CERTAIN CLAIMS WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF LEAVE TO FILE AN AMENDED COMPLAINT (ECF NO. 1)

         Plaintiff Jose J.R. Espinoza is appearing pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On March 13, 2017, Plaintiff consented to the jurisdiction of the magistrate judge. Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's complaint, filed March 8, 2017.

         I. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally “frivolous or malicious, ” that “fail[] to state a claim on which relief may be granted, ” or that “seek[] monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         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)). Moreover, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of Plaintiff's rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002).

         Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor. Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (citations 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 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The “sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully” is not sufficient, and “facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability” falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         II. COMPLAINT ALLEGATIONS

         Plaintiff is in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) and is housed at the California Correctional Facility in California City. Plaintiff was convicted in 2007 of assault with a deadly weapon, an automobile. (Compl. 5, 19.) At trial, the jury found Plaintiff not guilty of attempted murder and attempted voluntary manslaughter. (Compl. 5, 20, 21.) Plaintiff contends that the criminal conviction was adjudicated as a nonviolent felony. (Compl. 5.)

         Plaintiff alleges that prison officials have made an adverse determination that his conviction was for a violent felony based upon inadequate records being maintained by CDCR. (Compl. 5.) Due to the determination that Plaintiff was convicted of a violent felony, Plaintiff has been denied the right to have a lower security custody, reduction of his 80 percent credit earning status, and longer duration of custody. (Compl. 5.)

         On March 2, 2010, upon review of Plaintiff's conviction, the classification committee determined that Plaintiff rammed his vehicle into the victim's car and then attacked the victim through the sunroof of the vehicle with a screwdriver. (Compl. 10.) Based upon the circumstances of Plaintiff's conviction, Plaintiff was determined to have a custody status of Medium A. (Compl. 10.) The classification was affirmed on March 4, 2010 when the classification staff representative determined that Plaintiff rammed his vehicle into the victim's car and forced her into oncoming traffic. (Compl. 10.) Plaintiff continued his attack until the victim drove to the police station. (Compl. 10.)

         On July 19, 2016, Plaintiff appeared before the classification committee for his annual review. (Compl. 22.) The committee determined that Plaintiff did not meet the criteria for Medium B custody. (Compl. 23.)

         Plaintiff filed an appeal after the committee members denied him Medium B custody. (AR 10.) Plaintiff has filed inmate appeals and his custody status has not been corrected. (Compl. 6.) Plaintiff contends that the named defendants have failed in their duty to conduct an independent review of the records concerning his conviction and correct his custody. Plaintiff contends that he was actually sentenced pursuant to California Penal Code section 2933 and not California Penal Code Section 2933.1. (Compl. 5-6.) Plaintiff states that he should actually be serving a 50 percent credit earning sentence for his criminal conviction and not an 85 percent sentence. (Compl. 6.)

         III. DISCUSSION

         In this action, Plaintiff is challenging his custody status and arguing that he is serving an 85 percent sentence when he should be serving a 50 percent sentence. A habeas corpus petition is the correct method for a prisoner to challenge the “legality or duration” of his confinement. Badea v. Cox, 931 F.2d 573, 574 (9th Cir. 1991) (quoting Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 485 (1973)); Advisory Committee Notes to Rule 1 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. In contrast, a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is the proper method for a prisoner to challenge the conditions of that confinement. McCarth ...


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