United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
BARNES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Eric Giannini and Jihad Bensebahia, are proceeding in this
action pro se. This matter was referred to the undersigned in
accordance with Local Rule 302(c)(21) and 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1). Pending before the court is plaintiffs'
complaint and plaintiff Eric Giannini's motion to proceed
in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. (ECF
Nos. 1 & 2.) Therein, plaintiffs allege that the
defendant “refused and still refused to convert the
limited civil action” plaintiffs filed in the Yolo
County Superior Court “into an unlimited action . . .
.” (Compl. (ECF No. 1) at 2.)
court is required to screen complaints brought by parties
proceeding in forma pauperis. See 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2); see also Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122,
1129 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). Here, plaintiffs'
complaint is deficient. Accordingly, for the reasons stated
below, the undersigned will recommend that plaintiff Eric
Giannini's application to proceed in forma pauperis be
denied and plaintiffs' complaint be dismissed without
leave to amend.
Plaintiffs' Application to Proceed In Forma
fees must be paid unless each plaintiff applies for and is
granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Here, plaintiff
Jihad Bensebahia has not submitted an application to proceed
in forma pauperis.
Eric Giannini's in forma pauperis application makes the
showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). However, a
determination that a plaintiff qualifies financially for in
forma pauperis status does not complete the inquiry required
by the statute. “‘A district court may deny leave
to proceed in forma pauperis at the outset if it appears from
the face of the proposed complaint that the action is
frivolous or without merit.'” Minetti v. Port
of Seattle, 152 F.3d 1113, 1115 (9th Cir. 1998) (quoting
Tripati v. First Nat. Bank & Trust, 821 F.2d
1368, 1370 (9th Cir. 1987)); see also McGee v. Department
of Child Support Services, 584 Fed.Appx. 638 (9th Cir.
2014) (“the district court did not abuse its discretion
by denying McGee's request to proceed IFP because it
appears from the face of the amended complaint that
McGee's action is frivolous or without merit”);
Smart v. Heinze, 347 F.2d 114, 116 (9th Cir. 1965)
(“It is the duty of the District Court to examine any
application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis to
determine whether the proposed proceeding has merit and if it
appears that the proceeding is without merit, the court is
bound to deny a motion seeking leave to proceed in forma
the court must dismiss an in forma pauperis case at any time
if the allegation of poverty is found to be untrue or if it
is determined that the action is frivolous or malicious,
fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or
seeks monetary relief against an immune defendant.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). A complaint is
legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis in law or
in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325
(1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28
(9th Cir. 1984). Under this standard, a court must dismiss a
complaint as frivolous where it is based on an indisputably
meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are
clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327; 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e).
state a claim on which relief may be granted, the plaintiff
must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). In considering
whether a complaint states a cognizable claim, the court
accepts as true the material allegations in the complaint and
construes the allegations in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff. Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S.
69, 73 (1984); Hosp. Bldg. Co. v. Trustees of Rex
Hosp., 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976); Love v. United
States, 915 F.2d 1242, 1245 (9th Cir. 1989). Pro se
pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than those
drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
520 (1972). However, the court need not accept as true
conclusory allegations, unreasonable inferences, or
unwarranted deductions of fact. Western Mining Council v.
Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981).
minimum requirements for a civil complaint in federal court
are as follows:
A pleading which sets forth a claim for relief . . . shall
contain (1) a short and plain statement of the grounds upon
which the court's jurisdiction depends . . ., (2) a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief, and (3) a demand for judgment for the
relief the pleader seeks.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a).
“bring this suit pursuant to” 42 U.S.C. §
1983 against the defendant “in his capacity as a judge
in the Superior Court of Yolo County.” (Compl. (ECF No.
1) at 1.) The complaint alleges that on December 19, 2016,
plaintiff Giannini filed “documents at the Superior
Court of California, County of Yolo, for YOSU CVUD 2016
1275-1 . . . .” (Id. at 2.) Defendant Landry
“refused and still refuses to convert the limited civil
action . . . into an unlimited action, ” in violation
of plaintiffs' rights. (Id.)
not clear from plaintiffs' complaint if the defendant is
in fact a judge or a nonjudicial officer. Nonetheless, judges
are generally absolutely immune from civil liability for
actions taken in their judicial capacity. Mireles v.
Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11-12 (1991). Moreover,
“[a]bsolute judicial immunity is not reserved solely
for judges, but extends to nonjudicial officers for
‘all claims relating to the exercise of judicial
functions.'” In re Castillo, 297 F.3d 940,
947 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Burns v. Reed, 500 U.S.
478, 499 (1991) (Scalia, J., concurring in part and
dissenting in part)). In this regard, judicial personnel
“have absolute quasi-judicial immunity from damages for