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Arias-Maldonado v. Superior Court, County of Santa Clara

United States District Court, N.D. California

September 4, 2019

JAIME ARIAS-MALDONADO, Plaintiff,
v.
SUPERIOR COURT, COUNTY OF SANTA CLARA, Defendant.

          ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND DOCKET NOS. 1, 5, 9, 12, 13

          EDWARD M. CHEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Jaime Arias-Maldonado, an inmate at the Santa Clara County Jail, filed this pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His initial pleading is now before the Court for review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. His miscellaneous motions also are before the Court for review.

         II. BACKGROUND

         This action was opened when Mr. Arias-Maldonado filed a document entitled “Motion To Safeguard Civil Rights Of Pretrial Detainee.” Docket No. 1. Mr. Arias-Maldonado later filed a document entitled “Complaint Violation Of Civil Rights - Second Filing Attempt, ” Docket No. 14, in which he explains that he erroneously sent his original civil rights complaint to the Santa Clara County Superior Court's criminal division and was now making a second attempt to file it in the correct court. Id. at 4. He also states that this Court already had a copy of his complaint filed on March 12, 2019, and therefore he did not attach a copy of it to his “Second Filing Attempt.” Id. The only document he filed on March 12, 2019, is the “Motion To Safeguard Civil Rights Of Pretrial Detainee.” Docket No. 1. The Court treats the “Motion To Safeguard Civil Rights Of Pretrial Detainee” as the operative pleading because the “Second Filing Attempt” document explains an earlier filing error but does not contain any legal claims for relief. Mr. Arias-Maldonado's filings are hardly models of clarity.

         Mr. Arias-Maldonado alleges in his “Motion To Safeguard Civil Rights Of Pretrial Detainee” that he is being denied his right to adequately represent himself in criminal proceedings now pending against him in the Santa Clara County Superior Court. Docket No. 1 at 1-2. The details as to how he is being denied his ability to engage in self-representation are confusing.

         Mr. Arias-Maldonado alleges that he was arrested and charged with sexual battery of a minor, even though the child said that he was not the perpetrator. He also alleged that the charge was unfairly changed later to lewd or lascivious conduct on a minor, see Cal. Penal Code § 288(a). His demurrer to the new charge was overruled by the trial court; the California Court of Appeal and California Supreme Court denied his petitions challenging that ruling. Id. at 4.

         Mr. Arias-Maldonado further alleges that he is facing a charge of petty theft on “a totally different matter” in the Santa Clara County Superior Court, for which counsel was appointed to represent him. Id. Mr. Arias-Maldonado allegedly wanted to represent himself but his desire was not communicated to the court for a hundred days by the jail legal services coordinator, “result[ing] in the virtual denial of the pro se's self-representation” rights and privileges. Id. The appointed attorney allegedly did an inadequate job representing Mr. Arias-Maldonado. Id.

         There allegedly were problems at the preliminary hearing on one of the charges. Mr. Arias-Maldonado's several pro se motions have been denied without written comment. Id. at 5.

         Mr. Arias-Maldonado asks that the lewd-conduct charge be dismissed because of various problems in that case, such as the allegedly unlawful field show-up, the constructive amendment to the charges against him, the unavailability of a magistrate for a probable cause hearing, denial of adequate self-representation privileges, withholding of evidence, and denial of experts needed to aid the defense at trial. Id. at 9-10.

         In addition to his “Motion To Safeguard Civil Rights Of Pretrial Detainee, ” Mr. Arias-Maldonado has filed other documents that appear to seek federal court authorization to represent himself in the state court criminal proceedings and for pro per privileges at the jail to make that self-representation more effective. See Docket Nos. 8, 9, 10, 12. He also filed a motion to stay which is difficult to understand; for example, the document alleges that the federal court document entitled “stay injunctive relief, ” the purpose of which is unclear, but apparently seeks a stay of the state court criminal case. Docket No. 13. The document also alleges that his “pro se rights and privileges were terminated by a superior court clerk's order, ” id. at 2, which suggests he was not allowed to proceed pro per in his state court criminal proceedings.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A federal court must engage in a preliminary screening of any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review the court must identify any cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims which are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See Id. at § 1915A(b). Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated and (2) that the violation was committed by a person acting under ...


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