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Howell v. State

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 11, 2019

STATE OF CALIFORNIA, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Ronnie Earl Howell (“Plaintiff”), a former pretrial detainee now housed at Atascadero State Hospital, is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On May 10, 2019, the Court screened Plaintiff's first amended complaint and granted him leave to amend. (ECF No. 21.) Plaintiff's second amended complaint, filed on June 19, 2019, is currently before the Court for screening. (ECF No. 22.)

         I. Screening Requirement and Standard

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff's complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b).

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). While a plaintiff's allegations are taken as true, courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         To survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

         II. Allegations in Second Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff is currently housed at Atascadero State Hospital, but initiated this action while he was detained in the Fresno County Jail. Plaintiff names the following defendants: (1) John Barker & Associates, Appointed Attorneys; (2) Fresno County Public Defender's Officer; (3) Mark Mekhitarian, Court Appointed Attorney; and (4) ADO, Appointed Counsel.

         In his first claim, Plaintiff asserts that his liberty is being restrained in violation of his due process rights. He alleges as follows:

In an information filed on Appril on are about 3rd [17 April 2018 Prelim HRG], “2018.” With no-express waive from ten day prelim HRG waiver [4-16-2018], in fact on 44-09-2018 Petitioner pre-perlim hearing, Petitioner stated for the record no com't of speedy trial & no com't of any type by appointted public defender office without my approval [See audio of HRG;] The Judge says ten day's for prelim 17thfollowing day & com't following day making it on 17the of April. On or about 5-02-18 superior arragn oral Marsden MTN made & denids; their after & [illegible sentence] The Court appointted public defenders office & Judge suspends criminal proceeds; I invoke P.C. 1368 proceeds 5th D.C.A…..The People v. Howell, Involves: Hon's “Ellison” & Jonathan Skiles, [reverse in part “strick” stayed] .. these re submerges including Hon. Jon Kapetan to preside agin over [inclueding] but unchallenged, by the appointted. In fact would not surpress search warrants signed by not a previous search by Kent Hamline previous case, & recent one. My charges CT '1' P.C. 487 subd. (A)), a felony; CT 2 P.C. 459/460(b), & a felony, CT ‘3' P.C. 459/460(b) a felony., with prior alleged too had been imprison on eight separate occasions for felony conviction. It shoud be noted; that each prior our inbeded on each appeal's throught, ex post facto. Judicial notice requested.

(ECF No. 22 at 3-4) (unedited text).

         In his second claim, Plaintiff asserts a due process violation and alleges as follows:

The trial court found Ronnie Howell incompetent to state trial and ordered him committed to the Department of State Hospitals. Despite confirming that Mr. Howell was willing to voluntarily take prescribed medications and absent a penal code sec 1370 hearing on involuntary medication, the trial court authorized the involuntary administration of antipsychotic medication to Mr. Howell in its commitment order. Because the Court's involuntary medication order was not supported substantial evidence and violated Mr. Howell's due process rights-it must be reversed. [ΒΆ] The Petitioner request the examiner to review ...

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