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Fredrickson v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 7, 2017

WARREN FREDRICKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION, et al., Defendants.

          SCREENING ORDER DISMISSING COMPLAINT FOR THE FAILURE TO STATE A COGNIZABLE CLAIM, WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF NO. 1)

          Barbara A. McAuliffe UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Warren Fredrickson (“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. 5.)

         Plaintiff's complaint, filed on November 3, 2016, is currently before the Court for screening. (ECF No. 1.)

         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).

         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. 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.

         II. Plaintiff's Complaint

         Plaintiff is currently housed at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, California, where the events at issue occurred. Plaintiff names the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”), and the Director of CDCR Kathleen Allison as defendants. Plaintiff's allegations are as follows:

         Background

         Plaintiff's complaint includes detailed allegations regarding his criminal plea agreement, no contest plea to Penal Code section 288(a), and an unsuccessful attempt to change his plea. The Court notes that Plaintiff states that he does not intend to bring this as a habeas action, and thus considers these allegations to be providing background information related to his civil rights claim in this case. (See ECF No. 1, p. 9.) Specifically, Plaintiff claims that he has been wrongfully denied family visitation as a result of his conviction, as discussed further below.

         Allegations

         Plaintiff's allegations are not entirely clear, but it appears that he claims that the denial of the family visitation privilege to him violates his right to Due Process and Equal Protection under state and federal law. Plaintiff contends that CDCR has compromised his rights to family visitation under California Code of Regulations Title 15 section 3177 and 3177(b)(1). Plaintiff further contends that the “blanket exclusion” of the privilege violates due process and the sanctity of marriage. Plaintiff also alleges that the visitation denial is not neutral because it is devoid of individual scrutiny, and does not take into account any case-by case factors. A committee action uses no discretion, which suggests that a blanket policy exists, which wrongly denies the sanctity of marriage. Plaintiff asserts that his privilege exclusion is based solely on his conviction.

         Plaintiff further alleges that the family visitation privilege would only extend to Plaintiff's wife of over twenty (20) years; no minors nor other persons. On this basis, the regulation is not neutral. Plaintiff emphasizes that there are no security issues, and the visitation would be between two consenting adults. There is no fiscal expenditure to any CDCR budget, let alone employee, because it would be extending a policy/ privilege already in place to thousands more inmates.

         Plaintiff provides several examples of inmates who have gone through the classification committee he references above. Plaintiff asserts that each of these inmates are being denied visitation on account of the nature of their convictions. Furthermore, Plaintiff identifies factors that he contends are not being properly considered by the classification committee when determining whether they will be allowed family visitations, such as victims who recanted or cases that have been dismissed.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Allison has the power and authority to correct the constitutional violation ...


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