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Williams v. Stover

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 17, 2019

ROBERT H. STOVER, et al., Defendants.


         Ahkeem Deshavier Williams (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's complaint, signed on June 6, 2019, and docketed with the Court on June 14, 2019. (ECF No. 1.)



         Notwithstanding any filing fee, the court shall dismiss a case if at any time the Court determines that the complaint “(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1129 (9th Cir. 2000) (section 1915(e) applies to all in forma pauperis complaints, not just those filed by prisoners); Calhoun v. Stahl, 254 F.3d 845 (9th Cir. 2001) (dismissal required of in forma pauperis proceedings which seek monetary relief from immune defendants); Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995) (district court has discretion to dismiss in forma pauperis complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)); Barren v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193 (9th Cir. 1998) (affirming sua sponte dismissal for failure to state a claim). The Court exercises its discretion to screen the plaintiff's complaint in this action to determine if it “(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         In determining whether a complaint fails to state a claim, the Court uses the same pleading standard used under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). 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)).

         In reviewing the pro se complaint, the Court is to liberally construe the pleadings and accept as true all factual allegations contained in the complaint. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Although a court must accept as true all factual allegations contained in a complaint, a court need not accept a plaintiff's legal conclusions as true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “[A] complaint [that] pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with' a defendant's liability . . . ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.' ” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Therefore, the complaint must contain sufficient factual content for the court to draw the reasonable conclusion that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.



         The Court accepts Plaintiff's allegations in the complaint as true only for the purpose of the sua sponte screening requirement under 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

         Plaintiff filed this complaint while incarcerated however Plaintiff is not challenging his conditions of confinement. Plaintiff brings this action against Defendants Robert H. Stover (“Stover”), identified as a public defender for Kings County, Thomas Snyder (“Snyder”), identified as a district attorney for Kings County, Jason D. Taylor (“Taylor”), identified as a public defender for Kings County, and a “K. vanbindsbergin, ” identified as a Kings County sheriff. (Compl. 1, ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff's complaint is largely based on events that Plaintiff alleges are part of an effort by police officers in the Hanford police department, in coordination with Kings County prosecutors and public defenders, to frame him. Plaintiff has filed multiple lawsuits in this Court including actions relating to the February 2017 incidents involved in this action.[1]

         A. Fifth Amendment Claim against Public Defender Stover and District Attorney Snyder

         Plaintiff first claim is for violation of the Fifth Amendment and is brought against public defender Robert Stover and district attorney Thomas Snyder for aiding in the commission of perjury. (Compl. 4.) On May 3, 2017, Plaintiff had a preliminary hearing in the Kings County Superior Court as a criminal defendant for charges relating to an alleged animal cruelty event on February 21, 2017. (Compl. 4.) Public defender Robert Stover represented Plaintiff at the time of the hearing. (Id.) After reading the officer reports, Plaintiff saw they were full of lies and states there was a miscommunication between him and public defender Stover. (Id.) Plaintiff wrote his own motion to compel production of police officer Larry Leeds' testimony in order to challenge the false reports. (Id.) The state court judge informed Plaintiff that he must use a subpoena to obtain the officers' testimony, not a motion to compel. (Compl. 5.) Plaintiff states that he was already in court by the time he was informed of this and emphasizes that all the district attorney or public defender had to do was ask officer Leeds what he saw in the back yard the day of the incident but did not do so. (Compl. 5.) Because of this, Plaintiff charges that public defender Stover and district attorney Snyder helped the officers commit perjury. (Compl. 6.) Plaintiff claims because of this failure, he was forced to remain in jail longer, and thus was subject to false imprisonment in violation of the Fifth Amendment. (Compl. 4-6.)

         Plaintiff then describes at length why he believes the testimony was false and why it would have proven him innocent if the officers were forced to testify, mainly based on the issue of whether the officer in fact viewed the injured or dead animal prior to further investigation at the residence. (Compl. 6.) Plaintiff charges the facts show a conspiracy to keep him imprisoned, and appears to cite the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 as a basis for a cause of action against Defendants in this conspiracy to take away his rights and privileges. (Compl. 9-10.)

         B. Fourteenth Amendment Claim for Retaliation against Public Defender Stover

         Plaintiff's second claim is for violation of the Fourteenth Amendment brought against Defendant Robert Stover for retaliation. (Compl. 11.) Plaintiff alleges that on May 6, 2018 Stover filed a false report stating Plaintiff threatened him but Plaintiff states that if you read the reports, he did not actually threaten him. (Compl. 11.) Plaintiff states Stover filed the false report in retaliation because Plaintiff threatened him with a lawsuit based on Stover taking part in a conspiracy to commit perjury. (Compl. 11.) It appears Plaintiff's allegations relate to the incident with Hanford police officers on February 21, 2017, and Plaintiff's ongoing issue with public defender Stover relating to Plaintiff's desire to get the police body camera videos from that incident. (Compl. 11.) Plaintiff also avers to another incident on February 5, 2017. (Compl. 11, 13.) Plaintiff states “there is video footage to prove a perjury by officers, ” that Plaintiff has “been chaseing [sic] Stover down about these videos, ” and Stover “has given me the run around.” (Compl. 11.) Plaintiff states that “by threatening Stover with this lawsuite [sic] he retaliated against me getting charges filed on me which resulted me [sic] being in jail.” (Compl. 11.) Plaintiff refers repeatedly to another action filed in this Court, which appears to be Williams v. Kings County District Attorney's Office, No. 1:18-cv-00416-DAD-SKO, described above, in stating that this effort to obtain the video has been ongoing for an extended time.

         Plaintiff states he met with Stover at the Kings County Courthouse on May 6 2018, and Stover told Plaintiff he wanted to give the body camera video to Plaintiff through an email, but Plaintiff did not agree for multiple reasons including because Plaintiff was afraid of the threat of tracking software which would invade his privacy, stating “they have already invaded my privacy facebook, ” and have “stolen emails to try and find error they believe in my pravicy [sic] to humiliate me.” (Compl. 12.) Plaintiff alleges this is part of a pattern of Stover not standing up for Plaintiff's rights, citing the fact that on March 26, 2017, Stover waived Plaintiff's right to appear in court, despite Plaintiff wanting to go to the court to explain he was framed by the Hanford Police Department for the events on February 21, 2017. (Id.) Plaintiff states that he was treated badly by court officials, appearing to reference an incident on May 15, 2018, when Plaintiff argued with the court officers regarding searching his items, and such events would not have happened if Stover had fought and ...

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