United States District Court, E.D. California
KASEY F. HOFFMAN, Plaintiff,
MICHELE YDERRAGA, et al., Defendants.
KENDALL J. NEWMAN UNITED STALES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is a state prisoner, proceeding pro se. Plaintiff seeks
relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and has requested
leave to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915. This proceeding was referred to this court by
Local Rule 302 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
submitted a declaration that makes the showing required by 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a). Accordingly, the request to proceed in
forma pauperis will be granted.
is required to pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for
this action. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a), 1915(b)(1). By
this order, plaintiff will be assessed an initial partial
filing fee in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(b)(1). By separate order, the court will direct
the appropriate agency to collect the initial partial filing
fee from plaintiff's trust account and forward it to the
Clerk of the Court. Thereafter, plaintiff will be obligated
to make monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding
month's income credited to plaintiff's trust account.
These payments will be forwarded by the appropriate agency to
the Clerk of the Court each time the amount in
plaintiff's account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee
is paid in full. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).
court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners
seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the
prisoner has raised claims that are legally “frivolous
or malicious, ” that fail to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either
in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221,
1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may, therefore, dismiss a
claim as frivolous when it is based on an indisputably
meritless legal theory or where the factual contentions are
clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327. The
critical inquiry is whether a constitutional claim, however
inartfully pleaded, has an arguable legal and factual basis.
See Jackson v. Arizona, 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir.
1989), superseded by statute as stated in Lopez
v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130-31 (9th Cir. 2000)
(“[A] judge may dismiss [in forma pauperis] claims
which are based on indisputably meritless legal theories or
whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.”);
Franklin, 745 F.2d at 1227.
8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
“requires only ‘a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,
' in order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of
what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). In order to survive dismissal for
failure to state a claim, a complaint must contain more than
“a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of
action;” it must contain factual allegations sufficient
“to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Id. at 555. However, “[s]pecific
facts are not necessary; the statement [of facts] need only
‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim
is and the grounds upon which it rests.'”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007)
(quoting Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555, citations
and internal quotations marks omitted). In reviewing a
complaint under this standard, the court must accept as true
the allegations of the complaint in question,
Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93, and construe the pleading
in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Scheuer v.
Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974), overruled on other
grounds, Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183 (1984).
as defendants are Lassen County Deputy Clerk Yderraga and the
Lassen County Municipal Government. Plaintiff alleges that
while he was incarcerated at the Lassen County Jail,
defendant Yderraga denied his request for a marriage license.
Attached as an exhibit to the complaint is a letter addressed
to plaintiff from defendant Yderraga. This letter states, in
Regarding your request for a marriage application,
unfortunately I am unable to provide the documents to you at
this time. When purchasing a marriage license in Lassen
County, both parties must be physically present to sign the
marriage license in our office and to provide a valid form of
(ECF No. 1 at 7.)
relief, plaintiff seeks money damages.
clerks have absolute quasi-judicial immunity from damages for
civil rights violations when they perform tasks that are an
integral part of the judicial process.” Mullis v.
U.S. Bankr. Court for Dist. of Nevada, 828 F.2d 1385,
1390 (9th Cir. 1987). Clerk action that is “a mistake
or an act in excess of jurisdiction does not abrogate
judicial immunity, even if it results in ‘grave
procedural errors.'” Mullis, 828 F.2d at
1390 (quoting Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 359
(1978)). In Mullis, a bankruptcy debtor filed an
action against the bankruptcy court clerks. Mullis,
828 F.2d at 1390. The plaintiff alleged denial to access of
the court after the court clerks refused to accept and file
an amended petition in his bankruptcy action.
Mullis, 828 F.2d at 1390. The court found that the
clerk of court and deputy clerks are the court officials
through whom filing in cases is done. Id.
“Consequently, the clerks qualify for quasi-judicial
immunity unless these acts were done in the clear absence of
all jurisdiction.” Id.
case, it appears that it was defendant Yderraga's job to
respond to requests for marriage licenses. While her response
to plaintiff may have been incorrect, as plaintiff suggests,
it was not done in the clear absence of all jurisdiction. For
these reasons, defendant Yderraga is entitled to
quasi-judicial immunity. Although it does not appear that
plaintiff can cure these pleading defects, the claims against
defendant Yderraga are dismissed with leave to amend.
named as a defendant is the Lassen County Municipal
Government. The complaint contains no claims against this
defendant. However, the undersigned observes that plaintiff
previously filed an action in this court against Lassen
County and Lassen County Clerk-Recorder Julie Bustamante
challenging his denial of a request for a marriage license.
See 2: 15-cv-1382 GEB DB P. On July 25, 2017, Judge
Barnes recommended that defendants' summary judgment
motion be granted in 15-cv-1382. (15-cv-1382, ECF No. 59.) In
that case, plaintiff alleged that defendant Lassen County had
a policy of requiring both parties to be present to obtain a
marriage license and that that policy resulted in the denial
of marriage licenses to inmates, particularly jail inmates.
(Id. at 8.) Judge Barnes found that plaintiff's
claim that such a policy existed was unsupported.