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Spears v. El Dorado County Courts

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 16, 2019

BRIAN SPEARS, Plaintiff,
v.
EL DORADO COUNTY COURTS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          DENNIS M. COTA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, a prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's first amended complaint (ECF No. 15). Plaintiff alleges El Dorado County, El Dorado County Child Protective Services (C.P.S.), El Dorado County Public Guardian and individuals Joan Barbie, Gary Slossberg, and Julie Tingler, violated his rights under the federal Constitution and the California state constitution.[1]Specifically, Plaintiff alleges violations of his rights under the due process clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment, and his due process, equal protection, and right against cruel and unusual punishment guaranteed by the California constitution.

         I. SCREENING REQUIREMENT AND STANDARD

         The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if it: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require complaints contain a “…short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1)). 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).

         Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and are afforded the benefit of any doubt. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations 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. United States Secret Service, 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, 572F.3d at 969.

         II. PLAINTIFF'S ALLEGATIONS

         Plaintiff's claims arise out of a series of family law proceedings and events relating to the custody of his children. The complaint is not well organized and written in a narrative style without clear identification of the specific claims against each Defendant. The Court, however, has identified the following claims against each Defendant.

         1. El Dorado County

         Plaintiff alleged El Dorado County violated his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment Due process rights and his Fourteenth Amendment equal protection rights, as well as his Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment, by failing to notify him of a hearing terminating his guardianship of his children, having a policy not to transport prisoners to guardianship hearings, and failing to notify him of a dependency hearing. Plaintiff further alleges El Dorado County violated his First Amendment right to access courts through a series of policies that made it difficult to gain access to his family law matters.

         2. El Dorado County Child Protective Services

         Plaintiff alleges C.P.S. violated his Fourteenth Amendment Due process and Equal Protection rights, as well as his Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment, by failing to provide him notice of dependency hearings. Plaintiff also challenges various decision made by CPS related to his children.

         3. El Dorado County Public Guardians Office

         Plaintiff alleges the Public Guardians Office violated his Fourteenth Amendment due process and equal protection rights, as well as his Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment, by failing to give him notice of dependency hearings.

         4. Julie Tingler

         Plaintiff alleges, his court appointed attorney Julie Tingler was ineffective throughout his family court proceedings.

         5. Ga ...


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