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Rogers v. Williams

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 9, 2018




         Plaintiff acting in pro se and in forma pauperis sues defendant for alleged civil rights violations. ECF No. 1. Defendant seeks to dismiss the Complaint on several legal grounds. The basic difficulty with this case is, however, the defective nature of the complaint itself which requires dismissal of this matter albeit with an opportunity to amend.

         THE COMPLAINT [1]

         Plaintiff was stopped on November 15, 2014, by a California Highway Patrol officer for reckless driving. ECF 1 at 41(Order entered in 2:15-cr-00016-MCE-1). The vehicle plaintiff was driving at the time of his arrest, at which time the officer who stopped him determined he was a California Penal Code section 290 registrant sex offender, was searched at the scene. That search turned up optical disks notated in a manner that suggested they contained child pornography. Id. The vehicle was thereafter impounded and searched again after which the suspected child pornography disks were provided to the Child Pornography Task Force to inspect them and determine if they indeed comprised child pornography. On January 8, 2015, Petitioner was arrested for possession of child pornography, id., and a federal criminal complaint was filed in 2:15-MU-1 on the same date. Id. at 17. Ultimately, based on the initial stop, the district judge to whom the case was assigned suppressed all the evidence used to initiate the criminal charge and the prosecution was dismissed. Id. at 40.

         Plaintiff alleges that defendant, a Sacramento Sheriff assigned as a Special deputy United States Marshal serving on the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force since August 2001, violated his federal constitutional rights in the several actions he undertook while performing in that role in relation to plaintiff's arrest insofar as:

(1) after a prolonged period of custody during which plaintiff had asserted his Miranda rights, defendant placed him under duress and “coerced” him into signing away those rights, ECF 1 at 5-6;
(2) On December 12, 2014, defendant provided information regarding his investigation of plaintiff's alleged illegal actions to a reporter which resulted in a television broadcast which acted to deprive plaintiff of a fair grand jury hearing;
(3) On January 9, 2015, defendant submitted an affidavit containing misleading and false information to a United States Magistrate Judge in order to secure a detention order;
(4) On March 17, 2015 defendant, who bore the duty to assure plaintiff's presence at all hearings, prevented him from appearing at a hearing scheduled to review his bail status.

         These actions are alleged to have violated several of plaintiff's constitutionally guaranteed protections individually and his right to due process of law collectively.

         If the foregoing conclusions were to be proven with a factual basis, a jury could find defendant liable to plaintiff. However, the complaint fails to allege the necessary factual basis.


         Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires, inter alia, that a Complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that plaintiff is entitled to relief.” The United States Supreme Court edified this rule in its decision in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-556 (2007), where it addressed reliance on the Rule in determining the sufficiency of a dismissal motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

Federal 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, ” in order to “give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests, ” Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957). While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, ibid.; Sanjuan v. American Bd. of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc., 40 F.3d 247, 251 (C.A.7 1994), 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, see Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286, 106 S.Ct. 2932, 92 L.Ed.2d 209 (1986) (on a motion to dismiss, courts “are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation”). Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, see 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216, pp. 235-236 (3d ed.2004) (hereinafter Wright & Miller) (“[T]he pleading must contain something more ... than ... a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action”), on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact), see, e.g., Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N. A., 534 U.S. 506, 508, n. 1, 122 S.Ct. 992, 152 L.Ed.2d 1 (2002); Neitzke v. Williams, ...

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