United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
ALLISON CLAIRE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
is proceeding in this action pro se. This matter was
accordingly referred to the undersigned by E.D. Cal.
302(c)(21). Plaintiff has filed a request for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915, and has submitted the affidavit required
by that statute. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1).
ECF No. 2. The motion to proceed IFP will therefore be
federal IFP statute requires federal courts to dismiss a case
if the action is legally “frivolous or malicious,
” fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
Plaintiff must assist the court in determining whether or not
the complaint is frivolous, by drafting the complaint so that
it complies with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
(“Fed. R. Civ. P.”). The Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure are available online at
Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the complaint
must contain (1) a “short and plain statement” of
the basis for federal jurisdiction (that is, the reason the
case is filed in this court, rather than in a state court),
(2) a short and plain statement showing that plaintiff is
entitled to relief (that is, who harmed the plaintiff, and in
what way), and (3) a demand for the relief sought.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Plaintiff's claims must be set forth
simply, concisely and directly. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1).
is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either
in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 325 (1989). In reviewing a complaint under this
standard, the court will (1) accept as true all of the
factual allegations contained in the complaint, unless they
are clearly baseless or fanciful, (2) construe those
allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and
(3) resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor. See
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327; Von Saher v. Norton Simon
Museum of Art at Pasadena, 592 F.3d 954, 960 (9th Cir.
2010), cert. denied, 564 U.S. 1037 (2011).
court applies the same rules of construction in determining
whether the complaint states a claim on which relief can be
granted. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)
(court must accept the allegations as true); Scheuer v.
Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974) (court must construe
the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff).
Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than
those drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519, 520 (1972). However, the court need not accept as true
conclusory allegations, unreasonable inferences, or
unwarranted deductions of fact. Western Mining Council v.
Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981). A formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action does not
suffice to state a claim. Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007); Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
state a claim on which relief may be granted, the plaintiff
must allege enough facts “to state a claim to relief
that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 678. A pro se litigant is entitled to notice of the
deficiencies in the complaint and an opportunity to amend,
unless the complaint's deficiencies could not be cured by
amendment. See Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448
(9th Cir. 1987).
brings suit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for deprivation of
civil rights and seeks a temporary restraining order (TRO)
challenging the “State of California's funding
scheme of the State Trial Courts, which deprives over 4
million traffic court defendants of their federal guaranteed
rights to a ‘neutral and detached judge in the first
instance' who hears all trials on traffic court cases in
California.” ECF No. 3 at 1 (Amended Complaint).
Plaintiff alleges that AB 233, the Trial Court Funding Act,
which was enacted in 1997 and is codified in Cal. Gov. Code
§ 68085, created a “Trial Court Trust Fund”
in which all penalty assessments imposed in traffic court
after a finding of guilt are deposited. Id. at 2. In
furtherance of AB 233, Cal. Gov. Code § 77003 was
enacted, which requires all judicial officer salary and
benefits to be paid from the Trial Court Trust Fund.
Id. Plaintiff further alleges money from traffic
penalties goes to the “State Court Facilities
Construction Fund, ” codified at Cal. Gov. Code §
70371. Plaintiff alleges that this funding scheme violates
the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees individual traffic
court defendants a right to a neutral and detached judge in
the first instance. Id. at 5-6.
currently has a traffic ticket and must make a court
appearance by October 24, 2019. Id. at 4. Plaintiff
argues that because of the funding scheme, his case will not
be determined by a neutral and detached judge as mandated by
the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff asks that the court issue
a preliminary and permanent injunction enjoining defendant
Gavin Newsom, as Governor, from funding the trial courts of
the State of California from penalty assessments, fines, and
fees imposed on traffic court defendants who proceed to
trial. Id. at 1. In his application to proceed IFP,
plaintiff specifies that he needs a hearing held on the issue
of a preliminary injunction prior to October 24, 2019, the
date of his traffic court hearing. ECF No. 2 at 3.
plaintiff has previously been instructed in another case,
federal courts are barred by the doctrine of Younger
abstention from interfering in most on-going state court
cases. See Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 43-54
(1971) (holding that federal courts cannot enjoin pending
state criminal proceedings). As explained more fully below,
the Younger abstention doctrine applies to the
matters presented here. See Huffman v. Pursue, Ltd.,
420 U.S. 592, 604 (1975) (extending Younger to civil
enforcement actions “akin to” criminal
proceedings); Juidice v. Vail, 430 U.S. 327, 335
(1977) (extending Younger to suits challenging the
“core of the administration of a State's judicial
abstention is appropriate only when the state proceedings:
(1) are ongoing, (2) are quasi-criminal enforcement actions
or involve a state's interest in enforcing the orders and
judgments of its courts, (3) implicate an important state
interest, and (4) allow litigants to raise federal
challenges.” ReadyLink Healthcare, Inc. v. State
Compensation Insurance Fund, 754 F.3d 754, 759 (9th Cir.
2014). The Ninth Circuit also requires that “[t]he
requested relief must seek to enjoin-or have the practical
effect of enjoining-ongoing state proceedings.”
Id. (quoting AmerisourceBergen Corp. v.
Roden, 495 F.3d 1143, 1149 (9th Cir. 2007)). “Each
element must be satisfied, and the date for determining
whether Younger applies is the date the federal
action is filed.” Id. (internal citations
omitted). Where Younger abstention is appropriate as
to a request for declaratory or injunctive relief, the
district court may not retain jurisdiction and must dismiss
the action. Columbia Basin Apartment Ass'n v. City of
Pasco, 268 F.3d 791, 799 (9th Cir. 2001).
element is satisfied in this case. First, state proceedings
are ongoing and a final determination has not yet been made
on plaintiff's traffic tickets; indeed, plaintiff
specifies his hearing is at the end of this month. ECF No. 2
at 3. Second, the pending state action necessarily implicates
the important state interest of the safety of its roadways.
See Mackey v. Montrym, 443 U.S. 1, 17 (1979)
(stating that the state has a paramount interest in
preserving the safety of its public highways); see also
Mich. Dep't of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444,
455, (1990) (upholding constitutionality of highway sobriety
checkpoint program based, in part, on the state's
interest in preventing drunken driving). Third, no reason
exists that would bar the state court from addressing
plaintiff's due process claims. ...