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Pryor v. Los Angeles County District Attorneys Office

United States District Court, C.D. California

February 26, 2018

MARION MARC PRYOR, Plaintiff,
v.
LOS ANGELES COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Defendant.

          ORDER OF DISMISSAL

          DALE S. FISCHER United States District Judge.

         I.

         BACKGROUND

         On October 16, 2017, Plaintiff, a pro se state inmate, filed a civil rights complaint. On November 14, 2017, the Court dismissed the complaint with leave to amend. On February 9, 2018, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint (“FAC”).

         Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the Court has screened the FAC to determine whether it fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1).

         To survive dismissal, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. (citations omitted).

         A pro se complaint is to be liberally construed. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam). Before dismissing a pro se civil rights complaint for failure to state a claim, the plaintiff should be given a statement of the complaint's deficiencies and an opportunity to cure them unless it is clear the deficiencies cannot be cured by amendment. Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1135-36 (9th Cir. 1987).

         II.

         PLAINTIFF'S STATE-COURT EFFORTS TO OBTAIN POSTCONVICTION DISCOVERY

         This is the second civil rights action filed by Plaintiff on the same subject. He again seeks relief from this court in the wake of his unsuccessful efforts to obtain postconviction discovery in the state courts. See Pryor v. Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, CV 17-0633-DSF (AGR) ("Pryor I"). In that case, the Court denied the request to proceed without prepayment of filing fees and dismissed the action for lack of jurisdiction. (Dkt. No. 7 in Pryor I.)

         According to a hearing transcript attached to the initial complaint, Plaintiff was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole after a conviction in 1988 based on a murder committed in June 1986 in Los Angeles County Superior Court Case No. A915615. (Dkt. No. 1 at 27-28, 33 (Exh. H), 51, 53 (Exh. J).) On December 28, 1989, the California Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment with sentence modifications. (Case No. B036280.)

         In May 2012, Plaintiff apparently sent a California Public Records Act request to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. (Compl. at 2, 10 (Exh. B).) Plaintiff does not disclose what he requested. The response stated that, to receive the 2, 865 pages, Plaintiff had to pay the costs and fees pursuant to Cal. Gov't Code § 6253(b). Alternatively, Plaintiff could confer with his counsel to determine whether he was entitled to post-conviction discovery pursuant to Cal. Penal Code § 1054.9. (Id. at 10.)

         Plaintiff subsequently filed a request for post-conviction discovery pursuant to Cal. Penal Code § 1054.9. On April 13, 2016, pursuant to direction from the California Supreme Court, the California Court of Appeal issued an alternative writ that required the Los Angeles County Superior Court in Case No. A915615 to conduct a full hearing pursuant to Cal. Penal Code § 1054.9 and Rubio v. Superior Court, 244 Cal.App.4th 459 (2016), or else show cause why a peremptory writ of mandate should not issue. (Dkt. No. 1 at 21-22 (Exh. F).)

         On July 13, 2016, the Superior Court conducted a hearing after appointing counsel for Plaintiff. At the hearing, Plaintiff's counsel read into the record the nine categories of items requested by Plaintiff. Counsel for Plaintiff and the District Attorney's Office discussed the disposition of each category. (Id. at 26-36 (Exh. H).) The court set a further hearing on September 7, 2016 to address open issues. (Id. at 40.) On September 7, 2016, the Superior Court issued an order that is not attached to the complaint. (Id. at 57 n.4 (Exh. K).)

         According to the California Court of Appeal's online docket in Case No. B269919, the petition was dismissed as moot on October 13, 2016 after receipt of a Superior Court order dated September 28, 2016.

         On November 3, 2016, Plaintiff filed a petition for review in the California Supreme Court in Case No. S238192. The Court requested an answer. On December 8, 2016, Plaintiff's counsel signed an acknowledgment of receipt of evidentiary materials from the District Attorney's file in the categories discussed at the hearing. (Dkt. No. 1 at 44-49 (Exh. I).) On December 13, 2016, the People filed an answer. On December 27, 2016, Plaintiff filed a reply. On January 11, 2017, the California Supreme Court denied the petition for review. Pryor v. Superior Court, 2017 Cal. LEXIS 307 (2017).

         In the meantime, on August 22, 2016, Plaintiff apparently filed a motion for protective order pursuant to Cal. Penal Code § 1054.7/1054.6 and a motion for post-conviction DNA testing and appointment of an independent serologist expert in Superior Court Case No. A915616. (Dkt. No. 1 at 55-56 (Exh. K).) On November 28, 2016, the People served a response that opposed appointment of an independent serologist expert on the grounds that the biological evidence had not been shown to exist based on the July 12, 2016 hearing and requested an extension of time to file an opposition to Plaintiff's motion for DNA testing. (Id. at 58-60.) Plaintiff does not attach the Superior Court's rulings on his motions.

         On January 26, 2017, Plaintiff filed the complaint in Pryor I in this court. He requested the same relief sought in this action. (Pryor I, Compl. at 6.) On February 7, 2017, the Court ordered Plaintiff to show cause why the court should not dismiss the action without prejudice for lack of jurisdiction. Plaintiff responded on March 9, 2017. He conceded that his claims relating to the still-ongoing state court proceedings were barred by the doctrine of Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 45 (1971). However, he argued that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, discussed further below, did not bar review of his claims regarding state court ...


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