United States District Court, E.D. California
action, plaintiff Roger Gifford asserts several federal and
state claims against Siskiyou County Deputy Sheriffs and
California State Highway Patrol Officers for unlawfully
seizing his medical marijuana from his vehicle, arresting him
after seizing his marijuana, and searching his house subject
to an allegedly unlawful arrest warrant. On June 23, 2016,
the magistrate judge issued findings and recommendations,
recommending this court grant defendants' motion to
dismiss plaintiff's complaint and close the case. ECF No.
69. Although the magistrate judge gave the parties an
opportunity to file objections, no party has filed
careful review of the file, as explained in this order, the
court declines to adopt the magistrate judge's findings
and recommendations in full, but rather adopts them only as
consistent with this order.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
operative amended complaint names Deputies Lemos, Grossman
and Richardson from Siskiyou County as defendants (County
defendants), as well as Officers Swain, Shadwell, Leighliter,
Yates, Baty and McPeek of the California State Highway Patrol
(State defendants). First Amended Complaint (FAC) 1:21-25,
ECF No. 7.
alleges that on September 19, 2009, he lawfully parked his
vehicle on the side of the on-ramp to I-5. FAC at 2:24-25. He
then left his vehicle and proceeded in another vehicle
traveling to Oregon. Id. Upon return, plaintiff saw
several of the State defendants standing around his vehicle.
Id. After Officer Swain seized marijuana found in
his vehicle, plaintiff was immediately handcuffed by an
unnamed officer and taken to the Highway Patrol headquarters
located in Yreka, CA. Id. at 3:1-3.
at headquarters, plaintiff alleges Deputy Lemos found
plaintiff's “medical recommendation, ”
identifying plaintiff as a medical marijuana patient under
the protection of the California Compassionate Use Act.
Id. at 3:6-8. Deputy Lemos ignored this
recommendation and proceeded to interrogate plaintiff for
three hours. Id.
plaintiff was in custody, Deputy Grossman obtained a search
warrant from the Honorable Karen L. Dixon with the Siskiyou
County Superior Court, based on alleged “false
statements.” Id. at 3:19-25; 4:1-2. With this
warrant, state defendants Swain, Shadwell, Leighliter, Yates,
Baty and McPeek then proceeded to search plaintiff's
house. Id. at 3:19-25. In the search,
plaintiff's gun safe was destroyed and a World War II
knife, a family relic, was damaged. Id.
originally filed this action on September 19, 2011. ECF No.
1. The complaint was dismissed with leave to amend on October
31, 2011, ECF No. 4, and plaintiff filed the first amended
complaint on January 30, 2012. FAC.
first claim is against the State defendants in their
individual capacities for an unlawful search and seizure in
violation of the Fourth Amendment. FAC at 4:8-13. Although
state defendants searched the house under Judge Dixon's
warrant, plaintiff's second claim is against all
defendants in their individual capacities for executing an
invalid home search warrant in violation of the Fourth
Amendment. Id. 4:14-23.
also makes the following six state law claims against all
defendants: (1) false arrest, id. 5:3-7, (2)
“conversion” for property destruction when
executing the allegedly invalid search warrant, id.
5:10-16; (3) ignoring “class of plaintiff as qualified
patient, ” allegedly for failing to recognize plaintiff
as an authorized medical marijuana user before seizing his
marijuana, id. 5:19-25; (4) unlawful search and
seizure, id. 6:3-12, (5) freedom of speech
deprivation, id. 6:16-25, and (6) “torture,
” allegedly for “coercing interrogation, the
intimidation and harassment . . . [in] an ongoing arbitrary
and capricious illegal application of the marijuana [laws],
” id. 8:3-13. Although not pleaded with
specificity, all claims allege violations of the California
Constitution. Id. 5-8.
and State defendants moved to dismiss plaintiff's first
amended complaint. ECF No. 14 (County defendants' motion
to dismiss); ECF No. 50 (State defendants' motion to
dismiss). County defendants have also moved for sanctions,
contending plaintiff's claims are frivolous. ECF No. 65.
In the findings and recommendations, the magistrate judge
recommends granting County and State defendants' motions
to dismiss, but declining to grant County defendants'
motion for sanctions. ECF No. 69 at 11.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
court presumes that any findings of fact are correct. See
Orand v. United States, 602 F.2d 207, 208 (9th Cir.
1979). The magistrate judge's conclusions of law are
reviewed de novo. See Britt v. Simi Valley
Unified School Dist., 708 F.2d 452, 454 (9th Cir. 1983).
The court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or