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Villareal v. County of Fresno

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 5, 2017

ELAINE K. VILLAREAL, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF FRESNO, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ATTENDANCE OF WITNESSES (ECF NO. 38)ORDER DIRECTING CLERK TO SEND PLAINTIFF A COPY OF THIS ORDER

         I. BACKGROUND

         Elaine K. Villareal (“Plaintiff”) is a prisoner proceeding pro se[1] and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed the complaint commencing this action on September 17, 2015. (ECF No. 1). This action now proceeds on Plaintiff's original complaint (ECF No. 1) against defendant County of Fresno (“Defendant”) on a claim of unconstitutional conditions of confinement. (ECF No. 7). An Albino evidentiary hearing is currently set for November 14, 2017, at 10:30 a.m. (ECF No. 48).

         On July 19, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion for attendance of witnesses (“the Motion”). (ECF No. 38). On July 26, 2017, Defendant objected. (ECF No. 39). Because Plaintiff provided insufficient information regarding what four of her prospective witnesses would testify to, the Court required Plaintiff to submit additional information. (ECF No. 40). On August 16, 2017, Plaintiff submitted additional information. (ECF No. 45). On August 23, 2017, Defendant filed an objection. (ECF No. 50).

         Plaintiff's motion for attendance of witnesses is now before the Court.

         II. ATTENDANCE OF INMATE WITNESSES

         On June 30, 2017, the Court issued an order regarding the procedures related to the evidentiary hearing. (ECF No. 37). Plaintiff was informed that if she wanted the Court to compel witnesses to attend or to arrange for attendance of witnesses via the issuance of habeas corpus ad testificandum, she would need to file a motion for attendance of witnesses. (Id. at p. 2). Plaintiff was told that “[t]he motion must: (1) state the name, address, and prison identification number (if any) of each witness Plaintiff wants to call; (2) explain what relevant information each witness has, and how that witness has personal knowledge of the relevant information; and (3) state whether each such witness is willing to voluntarily testify.” (Id.).

         III. PLAINTIFF'S MOTION

         Plaintiff seeks to bring eight inmate witnesses to trial: (1) Shannon Reis; (2) Rachael Vasquez; (3) Angie Padilla; (4) Kristen Thompson; (5) Kristy Flores; (6) Sylvia Perez; (7) Monica Macias; and (8) Angelica Gutierrez. (ECF No. 38, pgs. 1-4).

         Defendant objected to the Motion on the ground that allowing eight witnesses would be cumulative, and costly. (ECF No. 39, p. 4). Defendant also objected to the Motion on the grounds that “only ‘two' of Plaintiff's prospective witnesses (Padilla and perhaps Macias) appears [sic] to have any alleged (or even possible) personal or actual knowledge of the Jail's grievance process during the relevant time-frame, ” and that, based on what Plaintiff provided, none of the eight prospective witnesses' testimony is sufficiently relevant (Id. at 4-5).

         After Plaintiff filed her additional evidence, Defendant objected on the grounds that Plaintiff failed to file any proof regarding the testimony of her prospective witnesses by the Court's deadline, and that Plaintiff once again failed to show that her prospective witnesses' testimony is sufficiently relevant. (ECF No. 50, pgs. 2-5).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         “The determination whether to issue a writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum rests within the sound discretion of the district court.” Cummings v. Adams, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9381, *6, 2006 WL 449095 (E.D. Cal. Feb. 17, 2006). Accord Walker v. Sumner, 14 F.3d 1415, 1422 (9th Cir. 1994).

         The issues at the Albino evidentiary hearing are whether Plaintiff attempted to exhaust her administrative remedies and whether the grievance procedure was available to Plaintiff before September 17, 2015. Accordingly, the most relevant witnesses are ones that can testify regarding the availability of the grievance procedure in the months before September 17, 2015. As the Court informed the parties, “[a]lthough the Court will hear evidence regarding interference with filing grievances after the filing of the complaint, [the evidence] must have sufficient relevance to the issue of the availability of those procedures to Plaintiff before filing the complaint.” (ECF No. 37, pgs. 1-2).

         After conducting a “cost-benefit analysis regarding whether the inmate[s] should come to court, ” Cummings, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9381 at *7, the Court has determined that Angie Padilla, Monica Macias, and Kristy Flores should to come to ...


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