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Stringer v. Unknown

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 6, 2019

LAWRENCE T. STRINGER, Plaintiff,
v.
UNKNOWN, Defendant.

          ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          ALLISON CLAIRE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff filed this action while a state prisoner at Ironwood State Prison, under the authority of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), challenging the failure of CDCR officials to apply the provisions of Proposition 57 to reduce his sentence. It appears that plaintiff is no longer incarcerated under the authority of CDCR.[1] The court nevertheless addresses the substance of his complaint, filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and his request for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. For the reasons that follow, the court grants plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis but recommends that his complaint be dismissed without leave to amend.

         II. In Forma Pauperis Application

         Plaintiff has submitted an affidavit and prison trust account statement that make the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). See ECF Nos. 2, 5. Accordingly, plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted.

         Plaintiff must nevertheless pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00 for this action. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1914(a), 1915(b)(1). By this order, plaintiff will be assessed an initial partial filing fee in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). By separate order, the court will direct the appropriate agency to collect the initial partial filing fee from plaintiff's trust account and forward it to the Clerk of the Court. Thereafter, plaintiff will be obligated to make monthly payments of twenty percent of the preceding month's income credited to plaintiff's trust account. These payments will be forwarded by the appropriate agency to the Clerk of the Court each time the amount in plaintiff's account exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is paid in full. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

         III. Screening of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint

         A. Legal Standards for Screening Prisoner Civil Rights Complaints

         The court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are legally “frivolous or malicious, ” that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). A claim is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1227-28 (9th Cir. 1984).

         “A document filed pro se is ‘to be liberally construed,' and ‘a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976) (internal quotation marks omitted)). See also Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(e) (“Pleadings shall be so construed as to do justice.”). Additionally, a pro se litigant is entitled to notice of the deficiencies in the complaint and an opportunity to amend, unless the complaint's deficiencies cannot be cured by amendment. See Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir. 1987).

         B. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Asserting legal claims of “equality [of] rights, false imprisonment, mental abuse, obstruction of justice, [and] conduct that shocks the general conscience or is intolerable in fundamental fairness, ” the complaint alleges that plaintiff received inconsistent responses from various CDCR officials and employees concerning the application of Proposition 57 to his sentence. Plaintiff alleges that officials have failed to address the impact of Proposition 57 on his sentencing credits and parole eligibility, causing him significant mental distress, loss of hair and eczema, and postponed his song writing career. See ECF No. 1 at 1-5. Plaintiff seeks, inter alia, “500 dollars for every counselor that [k]new I was eligible and didn't tell me for each extra day I spent in prison.” Id. at 6.

         Attached to the complaint is a copy of a letter, dated December 27, 2016, from a Deputy Clerk of the Sacramento County Superior Court, informing plaintiff that the “functions and responsibilities under Proposition ...


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