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Candler v. Baker

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 24, 2019

KEITH CANDLER, Plaintiff,
v.
BAKER, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          ALLISON CLAIRE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, has filed this civil rights action seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302.

         Currently before this court is plaintiff’s motion to compel, filed on February 8, 2019. See ECF No. 22. For the reasons listed below, the motion will be denied.

         I. RELEVANT FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff alleges that he was sexually harassed in early June 2016, and that he filed a staff complaint on June 23, 2016 which accused defendant Baker of the harassment. See ECF No. 7 at 4, 12. Plaintiff alleges that defendants Baker, Gonzalez, Rashid, Whitehead and Marquez began to retaliate against him following his filing of the staff complaint. See id. at 4-9. Later, after receiving a falsified rules violation report and being found guilty of delaying a peace officer, plaintiff administratively appealed. See id. He alleges that in response to his appeals, defendants “conspired to inflict mental pain[] [on him]” during their shift and began a “campaign of retaliation” against him. See id. This conspiracy included incidents such as interference with plaintiff’s mental health treatment and/or access to it, physical intimidation, and unwarranted strip searches. See ECF No. 7 at 5-8. Plaintiff was also denied canteen privileges and medical appointments. See id. at 9.

         On October 17, 2017, the court found that plaintiff had stated the following cognizable claims: (1) First Amendment retaliation claims against defendants Baker, Gonzalez, Rashid, Whitehead and Marquez; (2) Section 1983 claims against defendants Baker, Gonzalez, Rashid, Whitehead and Marquez for conspiracy to retaliate against plaintiff for protected conduct; (3) Eighth Amendment claims against defendants Gonzalez, Marquez, Rashid and Whitehead for interference with medical care, and (4) Eighth Amendment claims against defendants Baker and Gonzalez for sexual harassment. See ECF No. 10 at 3-4.

         On October 26, 2018, a discovery and scheduling order was issued and discovery proceedings began. See ECF No. 21. The record indicates that on January 31, 2019, the parties met and conferred regarding the production of certain documents to plaintiff. See ECF No. 22 at 1; ECF No. 23 at 8. On February 8, 2019, plaintiff filed a motion to compel. ECF No. 22. Defendants filed an opposition to the motion on February 28, 2019. ECF No. 23.

         On March 27, 2019, plaintiff filed a declaration in support of his motion to compel (ECF No. 24), [1] and on April 18, 2019, plaintiff filed a request for judicial notice (ECF No. 25). The court construes plaintiff’s request for judicial notice as his reply to defendants’ opposition to his motion to compel. The matter is fully briefed and ready for review.

         II. PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO COMPEL

         In plaintiff’s motion, he takes issue with defendants’ responses to the following requests for production (“RFPs”) of documents: (1) the RFP statements defendants Rashid and Baker made to interviewer Gonzalez in appeal number SAC-S-16-02293; (2) the RFP statements made that defendants Gonzalez and Baker made to the interviewer Heise in appeal number SAC-S-16-03276, and (3) the RFP statements of defendant Whitehouse when interviewer defendant Gonzalez interviewed him in appeal number SAC-S-16-03252. See ECF No. 22 at 1. Plaintiff writes in relevant part:

Instead of producing the actual documents so that [I] could see how the investigators asked questions related to [my] claims, defendants only produced answers that was [sic] interpreted as interrogatorys [sic]. Defendants are refusing to give up the official documents which is [sic] important to help prove the conspiracy [sic] allegations which involves [sic] cover-ups and defendants and their buddies practicing the code of silence.
The lack of official documents thwart [sic] plaintiff from producing them to the courts for oppositions [sic] or to a jury.
As of now [I don’t] know how many questions was [sic] asked, what questions was [sic] asked or if the formula used to investigate the appeal matters was according to an official C.D.C.R. policy.
After speaking to defendants [sic] counsel about the matter on 1-31-19 [I] was told that the documents was [sic] confidential.
The requested documents should be produced because they was [sic] generated as investigators was [sic] supposed to be asking material questions related to [my] claims in this lawsuit and defendant Gonzales himself was one of the investigators asking some of the questions.
[My] claims is [sic] part conspiracy [sic] against defendants and [I[ can help prove my claims more better [sic] because these documents shows [sic] how investigators down played [sic], covered up and falsified state documents in an effort to conceal defendants [sic] conduct. The documents will also help prove which defendants has [sic] perjured themselves [sic] in this lawsuit.
The failure to disclose the requested discovery appears to be in bad faith and calculated ot stifle and impeade [sic] [my] ability to adequately represent [myself] in the lawsuit. The discovery is of substantial importance to the case and calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

ECF No. 22 at 1-3 (brackets added) (citations omitted).

         In the motion to compel, plaintiff also attaches a copy of defendants’ responses to his “second”[2] request for production of documents. See ECF No. 22 at 5-8. The court refers to this document as well as plaintiff’s motion to evaluate the adequacy of defendants’ responses.

         III. DEFENDANTS’ OPPOSITION

         Defendants contend that they have responded appropriately to plaintiff’s requests for production of documents, set two, and that the motion should therefore be denied. See ECF No. 23 at 2-6. First, they point out that plaintiff’s motion fails to address defendants’ objections and that as a result, plaintiff has failed to meet his burden to show why their objections are not justified. See id. at 4 (citations omitted).

         Next, defendants contend that the statements they produced to plaintiff in response to his production for documents were appropriate because statements were precisely what plaintiff had asked for; he had not asked for documents. See ECF No. 23 at 4. They represent that the first time plaintiff asked for actual documents was during the parties’ January 2019 telephonic meet and confer. See id. at 5, 8-9. In any event, defendants argue, they have provided plaintiff with the information he originally asked for, and they note that to the extent plaintiff argues that he needs the actual documents so that he can proffer them in a summary judgment motion or at trial, they have told plaintiff that the statements they have provided to him may be used in both situations. See id. at 4, 8-9. During the meet and confer, defendants also told plaintiff that he was welcome to submit a written request for the documents, but that if he did, they would seek to have them deemed privileged. See id. at 5.

         Finally, defendants argue that to the extent plaintiff is now asking for the production of privileged documents via this motion to compel, the time for plaintiff to have done so has passed. They contend that the information plaintiff seeks is confidential under Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3321, and that its release to plaintiff, an inmate, is improper under Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3370. See ECF No. 23 at 5-6. They also formally object to the production of “any documents that are considered confidential with regard to the inmate appeal process, including the confidential supplements that include the . . . statements that were already provided.” Id. at 5. In support of these arguments, defendants have provided the requisite declaration from an appropriate prison authority as well as a privilege log. See ECF No. 23 at 21-24, 25-26, respectively; see generally Hampton v. City of San Diego, 147 F.R.D. 227, 230-31 (S.D. Cal. Mar. 15, 1993) (stating official information privilege affidavit and privilege log requirements).

         IV. PLAINTIFF’S REPLY

         Plaintiff’s reply does not directly respond to any of the arguments made by defendants in their opposition. It simply asks the court to take judicial notice of different federal cases related to the confidentiality of police reports and investigations, of authority related to privilege, and of Federal Rule of Evidence 501. See generally ECF No. 25.

         V. APPLICABLE LAW

         A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a)(3)(B): Failure to ...


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