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Holguin v. Wicks

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 16, 2017

PABLO HOLGUIN, Plaintiff,
v.
R. WICKS, Defendant.

         ORDER FINDING SERVICE OF SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT APPROPRIATE AGAINST R. WICKS, AND FORWARDING SERVICE DOCUMENTS TO PLAINTIFF FOR COMPLETION AND RETURN WITHIN THIRTY DAYS FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING DISMISSAL OF CERTAIN CLAIMS (ECF No. 28)

          Barbara A. McAuliffe UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Pablo Holguin (“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 initiated this action on March 14, 2016. Plaintiff's second amended complaint (“SAC”), filed on June 12, 2017, is currently before the Court for screening. (ECF No. 28).

         I. Screening Requirement

         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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (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, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (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, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         II. Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff is currently housed at the Correctional Training Facility, in Solodad. The events in the complaint are alleged to have occurred while Plaintiff was housed at Avenal State Prison. Plaintiff names R.Wicks, Correctional Lieutenant, as the sole defendant.

         Plaintiff alleges: On December 5, 2013, Correctional Officer Qualls while performing his assigned duties, picked up an envelope and felt an object underneath the stamp. Qualls found a black tar like substance in plastic. Correctional Officer Qualls does not deliver the letter to Plaintiff. Plaintiff did not have any knowledge and did not possess the letter. Correctional Officer Qualls drafted and served Plaintiff with a Rule Violation Report (“RVR”) charging Plaintiff with introduction of a controlled substance. The RVR was assigned to Senior Hearing Officer (“SHO”) R. Wicks. Lt Wicks is an experienced correctional officer who has duty to conduct inmate disciplinary hearings and must know the regulations related to the RVR, and in particular “possession-constructive possession.”

         On March 17, 2014, Wicks convened the disciplinary hearing. Defendant Wicks asked Plaintiff how the addresser of the envelop had Plaintiff's address and why the stamps are off your letters in the locker.[1] Plaintiff told Defendant Wicks that he does not know how the addresser had his address, and he said the stamps were for inmate Torres who collects stamps. Defendant Wicks denied Plaintiff's request for inmate Torres to testify as to the stamp collector evidence. Defendant Wicks adjudicated the RVR with findings which directly contradicted the evidence: “during testimony [Plaintiff] could not provide details of the [stamp] collection or where it was.” Plaintiff alleges that this statement is a direct contradiction of the question and answer portion of the hearing, where Plaintiff explained in his testimony that inmate Torres was a stamp collector. In later court proceedings, Plaintiff was exonerated of the charged offense by a writ of habeas corpus.

         Plaintiff alleges Defendant Wicks was obligated to familiarize himself with the misbehavior of the inmate and how it violated Title 15; in this case the element of possession/constructive possession.[2] Defendant Wicks knew the RVR's deficient state but erroneously found the RVR and its evidence to be true. Wicks imposed arbitrary and capricious punishment and a program change for Plaintiff. Plaintiff's security level was raised, Plaintiff was transferred to a different institution and had reduced availability of self-help programs. Plaintiff's time credits have not been restored, visitation restrictions are not restored, and custody level remains at a higher level. The RVR has not been purged from his file as it should have been. The existence of the RVR has affected Plaintiff's parole hearings and postponements of further hearings.[3]

         III. Discussion

         A. ...


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