United States District Court, N.D. California
LAWRENCE T. STRINGER, Plaintiff,
R. CRUZ, et al., Defendants.
ORDER OF DISMISSAL WITH LEAVE TO AMEND RE: DKT. NOS.
ILLSTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
T. Stringer, then an inmate at the Correctional Training
Facility in Soledad, filed this pro se
prisoner's civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. His complaint is now before the court for review
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
Proposition 57, approved by voters in November 2016, makes
parole more available for certain felons convicted of
nonviolent crimes. Proposition 57 added Article I, section 32
to the California Constitution. That section provides, in
relevant part, that “[a]ny person convicted of a
nonviolent felony offense and sentenced to state prison shall
be eligible for parole consideration after completing the
full term for his or her primary offense, ” defined for
these purposes as “the longest term of imprisonment
imposed by the court for any offense, excluding the
imposition of an enhancement, consecutive sentence, or
alternative sentence.” Cal. Const. art. I, §
32(a)(1). To implement Proposition 57, the California
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) set up
the nonviolent parole process (NVPO) to allow early parole
consideration for certain nonviolent offenders. See
Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3490 et seq.
alleges in his complaint that he was eligible for parole
consideration (apparently under the NVPP) but the CDCR, the
Board of Parole Hearings, a counselor, a records analyst, and
an appeals coordinator “waited [too] long to review
[his] file, which made [him] no longer eligible because of
the time frame.” Docket No. 1 at 3. He alleges that
this violated his rights to due process and to equal
protection of the law. He further alleges that documents
attached “prove all” of his allegations are true.
Id. He seeks monetary damages. Id.
documents attached to the complaint show that a January 10,
2018 decision approving Stringer for release in the NVPP was
later vacated because the decisionmaker had not adequately
considered the violent nature of two rule violation reports
Stringer received. At the next proceeding on January 30,
2018, Stringer was denied release in the NVPP; that decision
was upheld on March 19, 2018. He filed unsuccessful petitions
for writ of habeas corpus in the Sacramento County Superior
Court and the California Court of Appeal. He also filed a
petition for writ of habeas corpus in the California Supreme
but does not state the outcome of that petition.
CDCR's inmate locator website indicates that Stringer was
not in CDCR custody as of September 11, 2019. He thus may
have been paroled or be in a county jail for court
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). 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)(1), (2). Pro se complaints must be
liberally construed. See Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d
338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010).
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
the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S.
42, 48 (1988).
a complaint “does not need detailed factual
allegations, . . . a plaintiff's obligation to provide
the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to
relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do. . . . Factual allegations must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007) (citations omitted). A complaint must proffer
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Id. at 570.
complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. Stringer conclusorily alleges that he has been
denied due process and equal protection, but does not allege
any facts that plausibly show a denial of those rights. It is
not adequate pleading for a plaintiff merely to identify the
constitutional rights (i.e., the rights to due process and
equal protection) at issue; rather, he must allege facts
showing how each of those rights was violated. Also, it is
unclear how the alleged delay in review of an inmate's
file would cause him to become ineligible for parole. Leave
to amend is granted so that Stringer may file an amended
complaint that alleges sufficient facts to state a plausible
claim for one or more violations of his constitutional
Stringer in the preparation of his amended complaint, the
court now provides basic information about due process
claims, equal protection claims, the unavailability of prison
release as a remedy in a civil rights action, and some
information about proper defendants.
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S.
Constitution protects individuals against governmental
deprivations of life, liberty or property without due process
of law. Interests that are procedurally protected by the Due
Process Clause may arise from two sources: the Due Process
Clause itself and laws of the states. See Meachum v.
Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 223-27 (1976). In the prison
context, these interests are generally ones pertaining to
liberty. Changes in conditions so severe as to affect the
sentence imposed in an unexpected manner implicate the Due
Process Clause itself, whether or not they are authorized by
state law. See Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484
(1995) (citing Vitek v. Jones, 445 U.S. 480, 493
(1980) (transfer to mental hospital), and Washington v.
Harper, 494 U.S. 210, 221-22 (1990) (involuntary
administration of psychotropic drugs)). Deprivations that are
less severe or more closely related to the expected terms of
confinement may also amount to deprivations of a procedurally
protected liberty interest, provided that the liberty in
question is one of “real substance.” See
Sandin, 515 U.S. at 477-87. An interest of “real
substance” will generally be limited to freedom from
restraint that imposes an “atypical and significant
hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents
of prison life” or “will inevitably affect the
duration of [a] sentence.” Id. at 484, 487.
The mere failure to follow state ...