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Williams v. California Department of Corrections

United States District Court, E.D. California

December 19, 2019

SYLESTER WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.

          SCREENING ORDER ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTIONS TO AMEND/SUPPLEMENT THE COMPLAINT (ECF NOS. 27, 31, 35, 37, 38.) ORDER STRIKING LODGED SECOND AND THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINTS (ECF NOS. 32, 36.) ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT, WITH LEAVE TO FILE A FOURTH AMENDED COMPLAINT (ECF NO. 23.) THIRTY-DAY DEADLINE TO FILE FOURTH AMENDED COMPLAINT

          GARY S. AUSTIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Sylester Williams (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed the Complaint commencing this action on January 3, 2019, at the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. (ECF No. 1.) On February 21, 2019, the case was transferred to this court. (ECF No. 12.)

         On March 22, 2019, Plaintiff filed the First Amended Complaint as a matter of course. (ECF No. 23.) On June 3, 2019, June 28, 2019, July 26, 2019, and September 19, 2019, Plaintiff filed five motions to amend or supplement the complaint. (ECF Nos. 27, 31, 35, 37, 38.) On June 29, 2019 and July 26, 2019, Plaintiff lodged proposed Second and Third Amended Complaints. (ECF Nos. 32, 36.)

         Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint is now before the court for screening. 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The court shall also address Plaintiff’s pending motions to amend or supplement the complaint.

         II. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

         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). “Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that the action or appeal fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

         A complaint is required to contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). While a plaintiff’s allegations are taken as true, courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). To state a viable claim, Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id.

         III. PLAINTIFF’S ALLEGATIONS IN THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff is presently incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California. The allegations at issue in the First Amended Complaint arose from events at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, California, when Plaintiff was incarcerated there in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Plaintiff names Scott Kernan (Secretary, CDCR) as the sole defendant (“Defendant”).

         Plaintiff’s allegations follow:

         Plaintiff is a non-violent Third Strike inmate in prison since 1999 for indecent exposure. Following the passage of Proposition 57, Plaintiff was immediately eligible for parole consideration under the California Constitution, Article 1, § 32. However, Plaintiff was denied a non-violent parole consideration hearing under Proposition 57 because the then-Secretary of the CDCR, defendant Scott Kernan, developed Title 15 rules in April 2017 and adopted them so he could willfully and deliberately block parole consideration for Plaintiff, along with over three thousand other non-violent Third Strike inmates.

         Plaintiff sued the CDCR in state court over the matter and was appointed counsel. On October 26, 2018, Plaintiff won and the Santa Clara County Superior Court ordered the CDCR to provide Plaintiff with immediate parole consideration as required by Proposition 57. The CDCR then informed counsel that they were giving up all rights to appeal because they agreed with the Superior Court’s decision. Defendant may not give up his right to appeal the court order and then challenge the constitutionality of the order. Giving up appeal rights is an admission of guilt, and therefore defendant Kernan has no chance of success in the present lawsuit.

         Defendant Kernan has violated Plaintiff’s due process rights by failing to implement the terms of the law created by Proposition 57 when liberally construed. Defendant Kernan issued regulations that allegedly resulted in a mismatch between Plaintiff’s parole date consideration and EPRD.[1] Plaintiff was entitled to a non-violent parole consideration hearing pursuant to Proposition 57, along with a statement of reasons why parole was denied. These due process protections were not met.

         Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and declaratory relief.

         IV. PLAINTIFF’S PENDING MOTIONS

         Now pending are Plaintiff’s three motions to amend or supplement the complaint, filed on June 3, 2019, June 28, 2019, July 26, 2019, and two motions to amend filed on September 19, 2019. (ECF Nos. 27, 31, 35, 38, 39.) Plaintiff also lodged proposed Second and Third Amended Complaints on June 28, 2019 and July 26, 2019, respectively. (ECF Nos. 32, 36.)

         The court has thoroughly reviewed the First Amended Complaint, all of Plaintiff’s pending motions to amend or supplement the complaint, the lodged Second Amended Complaint, and the lodged Third Amended Complaint. All of Plaintiff’s pending motions to amend, or supplement the complaint shall be denied as moot because Plaintiff shall be granted leave to file a Fourth Amended Complaint complete in itself without reference to any other complaint.

         Plaintiff has requested to add claims to the complaint for retaliation, discrimination and violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause. The court shall provide Plaintiff with the legal standards for the proposed new claims. Plaintiff should review the standards before deciding whether to bring new claims. Plaintiff may not add new defendants for unrelated claims.

         Plaintiff’s requests to file a supplemental complaint to add allegations of events occurring after this case was filed on June 3, 2019 shall be denied as futile.[2] Plaintiff proposes to add allegations that he spoke with two analysts on July 11 and 12, 2019, about a 602 prison appeal he filed at Salinas Valley State Prison. Plaintiff reports that he was told by the analysts that he does not qualify for parole consideration pursuant to Proposition 57, and that his only remedy is to proceed under habeas corpus.

         This information conveyed to Plaintiff in July 2019 is not relevant to Plaintiff’s claims at issue in this case, namely that defendant Kernan acted against Plaintiff when he developed Title 15 rules in April 2017, and adopted them so he could willfully and deliberately block parole consideration for Plaintiff and other inmates. Moreover, this Eastern District court lacks venue over claims arising from allegations of events occurring at Salinas Valley State Prison which is located in the Northern District of California. Therefore, it would be futile for Plaintiff to file a supplemental complaint to add allegations describing what he was told in July 2019 about his qualification for parole consideration.

         V. PLAINTIFF’S CLAIMS IN THE FIRST ...


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