United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER RE: PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL RESPONSE
TO ADMISSIONS (ECF. NO. 46) ORDER RE: PLAINTIFF'S MOTION
TO COMPEL PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS (ECF. NO. 47) ORDER RE:
OFFICIAL INFORMATION PRIVILEGE
Wells (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner
proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in
this civil rights action.
action now proceeds against defendant Rosa Gonzales on
plaintiff's claims for violation of his First Amendment
right to free exercise of religion, violation of the
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000,
retaliation in violation of the First Amendment, unreasonable
searches in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and violation
of California's Bane Act.” (ECF No. 10, at p. 2).
this Court is Defendant's assertion of the official
information privilege and confidentiality regarding certain
documents. Also before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion
to Compel Response to Admissions (ECF No. 46), and
Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Production of Documents,
(ECF No. 47).
Defendant's Assertion of Official Information
Court's scheduling order, the Court ordered that,
“If any party or third party withholds a document on
the basis of privilege, that party or third party shall
provide a privilege log to the requesting party identifying
the date, author, recipients, general subject matter, and
basis of the privilege within thirty (30)
days after the date that responses are due. The
privilege log shall also be filed with the Court. Failure to
provide a privilege log within this time shall result in a
waiver of the privilege.” (ECF No. 24, at p. 2).
day of the discovery and status conference, Defendant filed
two privilege logs with the Court. (ECF Nos. 38, 39). The
first privilege log revealed that Defendant withheld as
privileged “All Staff Misconduct reports filed against
Defendant from 2013-Present, ” “All 602
Grievances/Appeals filed against Defendant from 2013-Present,
” “Copies of all incident reports involving
Defendant to include but not limited to any assault upon
Defendant and/or claims of assault or excessive use of force
committed by Defendant, ” “Copies of all
disciplinary actions and/or negative reports with
Defendant's employee file as a CDCR employee, ”
“All rules Violation reports (115 RVR) filed by
Defendant beginning from hiring date to present, ”
“All Staff Misconduct complaints specific to Defendant
confiscations of inmate property from 2013-Present, ”
and “All confiscation slips submitted by Defendant from
2013-Present.” (ECF No. 38). Defendant asserted the
same basis for each withholding: “Official-information
privilege, confidential and private information that could
jeopardize the safety, security, and privacy of the prison,
staff or inmates if disclosed. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 15,
§§ 3321, 3370, and 3450(d)); Civil Code
§§ 1798.24 and 1798.40; California Penal Code
§§ 832.7 and 832.8; California Evidence Code §
1040, et. seq., § 1043; unwarranted invasion of personal
privacy, Cal. Const. Art. I, § 1, (Gov. Code, §
6254); information irrelevant to any party's claim or
defense.” (ECF No. 38).
second privilege log revealed that Defendant withheld as
privileged “Staff Misconduct reports filed against
Defendant from Dates as Follows November 2017 to present
specific to reference of: a) Confiscations[, ] b) Illegal
searches[, ] c) Retaliations[, ] d) Religious rights
violations/claims[, ] e) Conduct beyond scope of duty[, and]
f) Procedural violations” regarding fourteen staff
misconduct reports; “602 grievances which were filed as
Staff misconducts and charged to Appeal issue from November
2017 to Present specifically referencing: a) Confiscations[,
] b) Procedural violations[, ] c) Illegal searches[, ] d)
Retaliation/Retaliatory conduct[, ] e) Religious Rights
Claims/violations[, and] f) Conduct beyond scope of
duty” regarding fourteen 602 grievances;
“Incident reports (CDCR Form 837s) from November 2017
to present specific to Defendant;” and
“Confiscation slips written/issued by Defendant from
November 2017 to present.” (ECF No. 39). Defendant
asserted the same bases for withholding documents in this
privilege log as she did in the first privilege log.
privilege logs included a declaration from V. Soza, the
Litigation Coordinator at Valley State Prison (VSP). Soza
declares that he has reviewed all of the documents withheld
as privileged and concluded that disclosure of any of them
“could endanger the safety or staff and inmates, and
potentially jeopardize the security of the
institution.” (ECF No. 39, at p. 8). Soza's basis
for this conclusion is as follows:
When an inmate alleges staff misconduct by an employee and
the appeal has been categorized as a staff complaint, a
confidential investigation into the matter commences.
Pursuant to title 15 of the California Code of Regulations,
§ 3084.9(i)(3)(B)(1), a confidential report summarizing
the review is kept strictly confidential, subject to limited
exceptions. By maintaining the confidentiality of the
investigation, witnesses are encouraged to make truthful
statements, and investigators, who are assured of the
confidential nature of the proceedings, are encouraged to
accurately report their findings. Maintaining the
confidentiality of the investigation also protects the
privacy of inmate informants. If confidential investigations
were disclosed to inmates, the institution would not be able
to control the confidential and privileged nature of these
types of inquiries, which would jeopardize the safety and
security of the institution. For example, inmate witnesses
might refuse to cooperate for fear that their statements may
be revealed to other inmates, which could put them in danger
of being labeled a “snitch” and/or threaten their
safety. Additionally, confidential investigation reports
could educate inmates about CDCR's investigatory
techniques and could potentially hamper or impede future
investigations. Thus, the institution's ability to
conduct accurate and reliable inquiries into allegations of
inmate and/or staff misconduct could be compromised because
of the lack of cooperation and candor from witnesses.
(ECF No. 38, at pgs. 8-9). Notably, V. Soza fails to
distinguish among any of the documents, or identify any
specific safety concern by any given document.
Court held a discovery status conference on June 19, 2019.
(ECF No. 40). Following that conference, and based on
discussions with the parties, the Court ordered Defendant to
submit a copy of all documents withheld under the official
information privilege to the Court for in camera
review. (ECF No. 41, at p. 1). The Court also gave each party
until July 3, 2019 to file a brief regarding whether the
documents are entitled to protection under the official
information privilege. (Id.).
the Court's order, Defendant submitted 1, 213 pages of
documents to the Court for in camera review.
Defendant also filed a brief regarding her claim of
privilege. (ECF No. 43).
Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Response to
before this Court is Plaintiff's motion to compel
responses to his requests for admission. (ECF No. 46). Based
on the Court's review of Defendant's responses to the
requests for admission, it appears that Defendant provided a
substantive response to many of the requests for admission,
notwithstanding her objections. It appears that Defendant did
not provide full responses to the following requests:
No. 4: I do not acknowledge Native American Religious
Practice as a legitimate religion.
No. 10: I have stated that Native American Inmates
“Better be afraid of me.” Additionally, Defendant
provided a limited admission to Request No. 8: I have been
suspended from duty for misconduct more than once.
Defendant's Opposition to Motion to Compel RFA
opposition only specifically addresses Request No. 10.
Defendant recites its objections “that the request was
vague, overbroad, and ambiguous, ” and that
“there is no time period indicated as to when the
statement was made, or to whom the statement was made.”
(ECF No. 50, at p. 3). “The information solicited was
insufficient to enable Defendant to admit or deny the
requested matter.” (Id.). Defendant states
that she will supplement her response if Plaintiff narrows
the scope to “while [Defendant was] on duty between
November 2016 to present, ” which Plaintiff stated he
would do in his motion to compel. (Id.).
Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Production of
also filed a motion to compel Defendant to produce documents.
(ECF No. 47). Plaintiff states that “Defendant has
failed to submit any documentation requested by
Plaintiff.” (ECF No. 47, at p. 4). Plaintiff then moved
to compel production of documents in the following
Staff misconduct reports filed against Defendant from
November 2017 to present specific to reference of[:]
b. Illegal searches (performed by Defendant)
d. Religious Rights violations/claims
e. Conduct beyond scope of duty
f. Procedural violations
Grievances which were filed as Staff Misconducts and changed
to Appeal Issue from November 2017 to Present: specifically
(a-f) listed above
Current lawsuit case numbers filed against Defendant and
causes of action.
Incident reports filed from November 2017 to present
specifically involving Defendant.
Confiscation slips/receipts authored by defendant from
November 2017 to Present.
Complete list of online sites which auction/sell items that
Defendant has utilized to sell items online from November
2017 to Present.
Detailed and itemized list of items sold by Defendant online
to include online photos of items put up for sale.
Complete itemized list of account activities of online
auction/sell sites to include but not limited to amount of
money procured by Defendant from November 2017 to Present.
Defendant's Opposition to Motion to Compel ...