United States District Court, E.D. California
WALTER F. SIMMONS, JR., Plaintiff,
SHERRI ATKINS, et al., Defendants.
SCREENING ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT, WITH LEAVE TO
AMEND, FOR FAILURE TO STATE A COGNIZABLE CLAIM FOR RELIEF
(ECF NO. 1)
Barbara A. McAuliffe UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Walter F. Simmons Jr. (“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 has consented to the jurisdiction of a United
States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).
(ECF No. 3.)
complaint, filed on September 29, 2016, is currently before
the Court for screening. (ECF No. 1.)
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).
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).
proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to
have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any
doubt resolved in their favor. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627
F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (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, 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.
is currently housed at the Correctional Training Facility in
Soledad, CA. The events at issue in this complaint took place
at Valley State Prison (“VSP”) in Chowchilla, CA.
Plaintiff names the following defendants in this action:
Sherri Atkins, Native American Spiritual Advisor at VSP;
Carmen Maroney, Community Resource Manager at VSP; Warden R.
Fisher; former Warden Ron Davis; Governor Jerry Brown; State
of California; and the United States of America.
allegations are as follows: Plaintiff was denied weekly
access to his primary religious service; i.e., Sweat Lodge
ceremonies by defendants Sherri Atkins, Carmen Maroney,
Warden Fisher, and former Warden Ron Davis. Each of these
defendants is responsible for ensuring qualified chaplains
are provided and religious services needs are met. Plaintiff
was denied proper, meaningful, and authentic Lakota
ceremonies as taught to Plaintiff by his ancestors and spirit
helper. All of the above are responsible, from
Plaintiff's arrival at VSP to the present.
was also denied a properly trained, endorsed, and federally
recognized American Indian “medicine man, ”
spiritual advisor or volunteer, from 2000 to present.
was denied access to, and ability to, acquire materials and
items needed for prayer and traditional cultural purposes,
was denied freedom of religious expression by Defendant S.
Atkins, including his traditional right to conduct ceremony
for himself and others in keeping with his family, histories,
personal vision and calling.
has been denied due process by Defendant S. Atkins, C.
Maroney, Warden Fisher and former Warden Davis. S. Atkins,
who concocted a lie to have Plaintiff put in Ad Seg. Other
officials refused to do a thorough investigation of
Plaintiff's traditional ceremonies and lack of
qualification claims regarding S. Atkins.
was subjected to cruel and unusual punishments by S. Atkins,
Warden R. Fisher, and former Warden Ron Davis in having to
endure daily disrespect of being denied all of the above, the
disrespecting of the Lodge and purification ceremonies
conducted by unqualified non-Indians. Further, Plaintiff
endured shame, watered-down spirituality, dead ceremonies,
and was placed in Ad. Seg. on two separate occasions for
voicing what is proper and correct for men's ceremonies
and how to form a proper traditional spiritual circle.
Plaintiff was then transferred, which severed Plaintiff from
close family connections, without affording him due process.
is seeing the appointment of counsel and a jury trial.
Plaintiff also seeks that (1) recognized, properly-trained
AMI male spiritual advisors be utilized in men's prisons;
(2) that a second Sweat Lodge and sacred grounds area be
provided; (3) that federal guidelines for American Indian
religious property, materials and allowable items be
implemented and the current restrictions of the CDCR
Religious Property Matrix be removed; (4) that
Plaintiff's personal vision and beliefs regarding
ceremonies for himself and others be recognized and
accommodated; (5) that various state and federal rules,
regulations, policies and laws which violate Plaintiff's
rights be revised; and (6) that an oversight counsel be
formed under Plaintiff's guidance. Plaintiff also seeks
punitive and compensatory damages.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, 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). As noted above, 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.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation omitted). Plaintiff
must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as
true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). While factual
allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not.
Id.; see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556-557;
Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.
complaint is short, but it is not a plain or clear statement
of his claims and the factually allegations underlying those
claims. Plaintiff's complaint is mainly comprised of
conclusory statements that his rights were denied.
has also attached fourteen pages of exhibits to his
complaint. The exhibits are not referenced or otherwise
explained in the complaint. The Court is not required to sift
through Plaintiff's exhibits and attachments in an effort
to determine what Plaintiff's claim(s) are.
will be granted leave to amend his complaint. If Plaintiff
elects to amend his complaint, he must allege what each
individual defendant, by name, did or did not do that
resulted in a violation of his constitutional rights. If he
chooses to add attachments or exhibits to any amended
complaint (which he is not required to do), Plaintiff must
identify them for the Court and explain their significance,
with particularity. Plaintiff may refer to exhibits that are
already filed, but must incorporate them by specific
reference (using the title or form number of a report, date,
author, or other identifying information, for example).