United States District Court, N.D. California
MAURICE L. HARRIS, Plaintiff,
RON DAVIS, et al., Defendants.
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
MARIA-ELENA JAMES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Maurice L. Harris, a state prisoner incarcerated at San
Quentin State Prison (“SQSP”), has filed a
pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. His complaint is now before the Court for review
under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Plaintiff's application for
leave to proceed in forma pauperis will be addressed
in a separate order.
Standard of Review
federal court must engage in a preliminary screening of any
case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental
entity, or from an officer or an employee of a governmental
entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the Court
must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims
which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b) (1), (2). Pro se pleadings
must be liberally construed. Balistreri v. Pacifica
Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
“Specific facts are not necessary; the statement 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)
(citations omitted). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to
provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment]
to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and
a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Id. at 570.
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege two elements: (1) that a right secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States was violated; and
(2) that the violation was committed by a person acting under
the color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42,
asserts that he is a practitioner of the Buddhist faith and
is a member of the Soka Gakkai International
(“SGI”)-a Buddhist network. According to
plaintiff, “studying Buddhist texts
electronically” is part of his practice. Compl. at 3.
Plaintiff filed a prison administrative appeal requesting a
religious accommodation for a CDCR-approved electronic
reading device (“eReader”) to use for study of
religious books. The appeal was denied. Plaintiff claims that
the denial violates his rights under the Equal Protection
Clause because other inmates are permitted to have eReaders.
Specifically, inmates who participate in the Voluntary
Education Program (“VEP”) may possess an eReader
for college study, and certain other groups of inmates are
permitted to purchase eReaders based on their security level.
allegations fail to establish an equal protection violation.
The Equal Protection Clause requires that an inmate who is an
adherent of a minority religion be afforded a
“reasonable opportunity of pursuing his faith
comparable to the opportunity afforded fellow prisoners who
adhere to conventional religious precepts.” Cruz v.
Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 322 (1972) (Buddhist prisoners must
be given opportunity to pursue faith comparable to that given
Christian prisoners). The court must consider whether
“the difference between the defendants' treatment
of [the inmate] and their treatment of [other] inmates is
‘reasonably related to legitimate penological
interests.'” Shakur v. Schriro, 514 F.3d
878, 891 (9th Cir. 2008). Plaintiff fails to show that
inmates of other faiths were allowed to purchase eReaders in
order to specifically pursue spiritual practice. Indeed, he
acknowledges that prison officials, in denying his request,
were acting under CDCR operational procedures unrelated to
religion. Plaintiff even admits that he was personally
allowed to possess an eReader when he was a participant in
the VEP. Plaintiff's allegations likewise fail to support
a claim that the denial of an eReader deprived him of a
reasonable opportunity to practice his religion. See
Cruz, 405 U.S. at 322.
also alleges that defendants violated his due process rights
by “not referring Plaintiff's religious request to
the Religious Review Committee, and not following the
established property policies.” Compl. at 5. These
allegations do not state a cognizable claim for relief, even
when liberally construed, because there is no constitutional
right to a religious review committee, nor is there any other
federal law implicated by the alleged failures to follow
the complaint will be dismissed. Such dismissal will be
without leave to amend, as any amendment to state a
constitutional claim under the circumstances alleged herein
would be futile. See Janicki Logging Co. v. Mateer,
42 F.3d 561, 566 (9th Cir. 1994) (holding leave to amend need
not be granted where amendment constitutes exercise in
reasons stated above, the complaint is hereby DISMISSED