United States District Court, E.D. California
ALLISON CLAIRE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is a state prisoner incarcerated at the California Medical
Facility under the authority of the California Department of
Corrections and Rehabilitation. Plaintiff proceeds pro se
with a complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff has consented to the jurisdiction of the
undersigned Magistrate Judge for all purposes pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(c) and E.D. Cal. L. R. (“Local
Rule”) 305(a). See ECF No. 4.
forth in his three-page complaint, plaintiff seeks damages
against the California Board of Parole Hearings, and two of
its members, Patrick Reardon and Rhonda Skipper-Dotta.
Plaintiff also seeks an order of this court directing the
Board to remove from plaintiff's central file “all
information regarding the conviction of aggravated robbery,
Texas, 1984, ” for which plaintiff asserts he was
exonerated in 1993; and to “correct records that (2
counts) assault to murder, Texas, 1972, as non-violent or
serious offenses.” ECF No. 1 at 3.
avers that on January 31, 2017, defendant Reardon, acting for
the Board, denied plaintiff parole “based, in part, on
criminal history of violence, ” including all three
counts. On February 3, 2017, plaintiff sent documents to the
Board showing that he was exonerated of the 1984 aggravated
robbery and released on April 23, 1993. On February 14, 2017,
defendant Skipper-Dotta, acting for the Board,
“reconsidered parole suitability and denied parole
based, in part, on (2 counts) assault to murder and
possession of control[led] substance and stating she excluded
the aggravated robbery charge.” Id.
complaint fails to state a claim over which this court has
jurisdiction. The California Board of Parole Hearings, a
state agency, is immune from damages suits under the Eleventh
Amendment. See Atascadero State Hospital v. Scanlon,
473 U.S. 234, 237-38 (1985) (Eleventh Amendment bars suits
against states in federal court); Wolfe v.
Strankman, 392 F.3d 358, 364 (9th Cir. 2004) (as applied
to state agencies). Moreover, Board members, who exercise
quasi-judicial responsibilities in rendering a decision to
grant, deny or revoke parole, are absolutely immune from
damages liability. See Sellars v. Procunier, 641
F.2d 1295, 1302-03 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 1102
(1981); cf. Swift v California, 384 F.3d 1184, 1186,
1191 (9th Cir. 2004) (parole officers not entitled to
absolute immunity for conduct independent of Board's
decision-making authority, e.g., in performing investigatory
or law enforcement functions).
addition to these specific barriers to the instant suit, all
claims for damages based on a prisoner's underlying
conviction or sentence are bound by the “favorable
termination rule” set forth by the Supreme Court in
Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973) and
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). As explained
by the Court in Heck, “in order to recover
damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or
imprisonment . . . a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that
the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct
appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a
state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or
called into question by a federal court's issuance of a
writ of habeas corpus[.]” 512 U.S. at 481, 486-87. In
the instant case, according to plaintiff, Board member
Skipper-Dotta reconsidered plaintiff's parole suitability
excluding the challenged aggravated robbery count, and still
denied parole. Plaintiff offers no grounds on which to
conclude that the remaining two counts on which Skipper-Dotta
relied (assault to commit murder and possession of a
controlled substance) have been invalidated. Absent a formal
decision that the denial of plaintiff s parole improperly
rested on an invalid conviction or sentence, plaintiff may
not pursue a damages claim.
habeas relief is available only if success on the merits of
petitioner's claim would necessarily impact the
fact or duration of his confinement. See Nettles v.
Grounds, 830 F.3d. 922, 934-35 (9th Cir. 2016) (en
banc). Absent such impact, federal courts are without
authority to review the substance of a petitioner's
parole denial. See Swarthout v. Cooke, 562 U.S. 216,
219 (2011). The Supreme Court has held that federal habeas
relief is not available for errors of state law, and that the
Due Process Clause does not require correct application of
California's “some evidence” standard for
denying parole. Federal courts may not intervene in state
parole decisions as long as minimum procedural protections
were provided to the petitioner. Id. at 219-20.
to these authorities, the undersigned finds that the instant
complaint fails to state a cognizable claim, and that
amendment of the complaint would be futile. The court will
deny plaintiffs request to proceed in forma pauperis without
imposition of a fee.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
1. Plaintiffs complaint, ECF No. 1, is dismissed without
leave to amend.
2. Plaintiffs motion to proceed in forma pauperis, ECF No. 2,