United States District Court, C.D. California
Henry C. Hayes
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation et al.
Present: The Honorable Steve Kim, U.S. Magistrate Judge
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
(IN CHAMBERS) SCREENING ORDER
is a California state prisoner suing under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for events arising from a prison contraband cellphone
search. (ECF 1 at 9-14). He alleges that the search was
illegal because prison officials performed it without a
warrant, and he challenges the prison disciplinary process
that resulted from the discovery and search of his cellphone.
(Id. at 9-14, 15-17, 22-31). But because Plaintiff
is a prisoner seeking redress from government entities and
employees, the Court must screen his complaint to
"identify cognizable claims" from those that are
"frivolous, malicious, or 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(a), (b)(1)-(2M2012).
None of Plaintiffs claims appear cognizable.
The State Entities and Individuals in Their Official
Capacities are Immune from Suit
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
("CDCR"), the state prison where Plaintiff was
incarcerated, and the CDCR agency that extracted data from
his cellphone are immune from suit under the Eleventh
Amendment. See Welch v. Texas Dep't of Highways
&Pub. Transp., 483 U.S. 468, 472-74 (1987);
Pennhurst State Sch.&Hosp. v. Halderman, 465
U.S. 89, 99-100, 106 (1984). "The State of California
has not waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity with respect
to claims brought under § 1983 in federal court[.]"
Dittman v. California, 191 F.3d 1020, 1025-26 (9th
Cir. 1999) (citation omitted); see Quern v. Jordan,
440 U.S. 332, 338-42 (1979) (Section 1983 does not override
states' Eleventh Amendment immunity); Brown v.
California Dep't. of Corr:, 554 F.3d 747, 752 (9th
Cir. 2009) (CDCR is an arm of the state under Eleventh
Amendment immunity). Tims, Plaintiffs claims against these
Defendants cannot survive.
Plaintiffs claims for damages against individual prison
officials in their official capacities are also barred by the
Eleventh Amendment. A "suit against a state official in
his or her official capacity is not a suit against the
official but rather is a suit against the official's
office" and thus "is no different from a suit
against the State itself." Will v. Michigan
Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). So
state officials sued in their official capacities for damages
are also entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity.
See Mitchell v. Washington, 818 F.3d 436, 442 (9th
Cir. 2016); Flint v. Dennison, 488 F.3d 816, 825
(9th Cir. 2007).
Plaintiff Lacks Standing to Sue the Individuals for
Prospective Injunctive Relief
claims for injunctive relief against the individually named
defendants in their official capacities are procedurally
deficient. If he is seeking retrospective injunctive relief,
a § 1983 action cannot provide it. See Verizon
Maryland, Inc. v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n of Maryland, 535
U.S. 635, 645 (2002); see also Bell v. City of
Boise, 709 F.3d 890, 895-96 (9th Cir. 2013) (request for
order compelling expungement of state criminal records seeks
retrospective relief). And even if Plaintiff is seeking
prospective injunctive relief, see Flint, 488 F.3d
at 825, he lacks standing to seek that kind of relief here
because he has alleged no facts plausibly showing that he
faces a likely threat of future injury from the same past
conduct. See Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244, 284
(2003) ("To seek forward-looking, injunctive relief,
petitioners must show that they face an imminent threat of
future injury."); Sample v. Johnson, 771 F.2d
1335, 1340 (9th Cir. 1985) (plaintiffs "must demonstrate
that a 'credible threat' exists that they will again
be subject to the specific injury for which they seek
injunctive or declaratory relief." (citation omitted));
Wilson v. Terhune, 319 F.3d 477, 481 (9th Cir. 2003)
(adverse effects from RVR not presumed); Johnson v.
Gower, 2013 WL 3332810, at *3 (E.D. Cal. July 1, 2013)
(ongoing consequences of RVR are speculative). As a result,
the official capacity claims against the individual
defendants for injunctive relief are subject to dismissal.
See Bank of Lake Tahoe v. Bank of Am., 318 F.3d 914,
916, 918 (9th Cir. 2003).
Plaintiffs Personal-Capacity Claims Are Not Cognizable as
though Plaintiff may sue the individual prison officials
in their personal capacities, see Mitchell, 818 F.3d
at 442, his personal-capacity claims still fail to state a
claim on which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
Plaintiff cannot state a Fourth Amendment claim because
prisoners have no reasonable expectation of privacy in using
contraband cellphones. See Hudson v. Palmer, 468
U.S. 517, 525-26 (1984); see also Shea v. United
States, 2018 WL 3750975, at *5 (D. Nev. Apr. 16, 2018)
("Prison inmates do not... have a reasonable expectation
of privacy for communications made by cellular telephone
during their incarceration."), adopted by 2018
WL 3747282 (D. Nev. Aug. 7, 2018); United States v.
York, 2017 WL 5068143, at M (E.D. Cal. Sept. 29, 2017)
(noting same); cf. United States v. Johnson, 875
F.3d 1265, 1274-75 (9th Cir. 2017) (warrantless search of
parolee's cellphone reasonable because parolee has
limited Fourth Amendment privacy rights).
Plaintiff cannot state a Fourteenth Amendment procedural due
process claim because he has alleged no actionable
deprivation of a protected liberty interest. See
Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 221 (2005). For
starters, the punishment Petitioner received in his
disciplinary proceeding-loss of good time credits-was vacated
on administrative appeal because the hearing was not held in
time under state regulations. (ECF 1 at 39-41). That
Plaintiff had to endure what turned out to be a procedurally
barred hearing is not enough to allege a procedural due
process violation. See Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d
850, 860 (9th Cir. 2003) ("[I]nmates lack a separate
constitutional entitlement to a specific prison grievance
procedure."); Padilla v. Nevada, 2010 WL
3463617, at *4 (D. Nev. Aug. 25, 2010) (Due Process Clause
"does not federalize state-law procedural
requirements" (citation omitted)), aff'd sub
nom. Padilla v. Brooks, 540 Fed.Appx. 805 (9th Cir.
2013); Ransom v. Herrera, 2016 WL 7474866, at *1, *6
(E.D. Cal. Dec. 28, 2016) (dismissing due process claim
because plaintiff was exonerated of charges and not subjected
to additional punishment because of them), adopted
by 2017 WL 1166284 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 28, 2017). Moreover,
the mere fact that-after the defective hearing-prison
officials interviewed him, took photographs, and searched his
prison cell does not amount to a due process claim. See
Slavick v. Colotario, 2018 WL 6597214, at *6 (D. Haw.
Dec. 11, 2018) (ordinary prison procedures do not violate due
process unless they impose "atypical and significant
hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents
of prison life").
these reasons, Plaintiff is ORDERED TO SHOW
CAUSE on or before January 16,
2020. why his complaint should not be
dismissed. To discharge ...