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Carmichael v. County of San Diego

United States District Court, S.D. California

December 10, 2019



          Hon. Gonzalo P. Curiel, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiffs Kirk Matthew Carmichael (“Plaintiff”) and Robert E. Baskin (“Trustee”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs”), on behalf of the Stars in the Sky Trust (“Trust”), have filed a complaint alleging a wide variety of constitutional and statutory violations against the Defendants County of San Diego, Peters Esters, Summer Stephan, Michael Holmes, John Staley, AutoNation DBA BMW of Encinitas, Toyota of Escondido, and multiple Doe individuals. ECF No. 1. Three of these Defendants - John Staley, Michael Holmes, and the County of San Diego (“County”) - have filed motions to dismiss Plaintiffs' complaint for failure to state a claim. ECF No. 4, 6, 10. Plaintiffs filed responses to each motion, ECF Nos. 12, 13, 14, and Defendants filed their replies. ECF Nos. 16, 17, 18. Both the County, ECF No. 10-2, and Plaintiffs, ECF No. 15, filed requests for judicial notice.[1]

         The Court now faces two questions. First, because Plaintiffs' claim arises out of an ongoing prosecution in California state court, the Court must determine whether the Younger doctrine precludes review of Plaintiffs' claims. Second, the Court must decide whether Plaintiffs' scattershot complaint - which incorporates over two dozen statutes and constitutional provisions as well as 756 pages of attachments - comports with the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 8 and with the pleading standards established by Twombly and Iqball. The Court finds for Defendants as to both questions and dismisses the complaint.

         I. Background

         a. Factual Background

         On October 12, 2018, Plaintiff arrived at BMW of Encinitas to purchase a car at about 7 p.m. (ECF No. 1 at 3.) Plaintiff's application triggered a “fraud alert.” (Id.; ECF No. 1 at 21-25, Carmichael Affidavit (“CA”) at ¶ 5-8.) A police officer arrived and spoke to Plaintiff “in an hour long questioning.” (ECF No. 1 at 3.) The officer then arrested Plaintiff, first placing him in the back of a police car and then reading Plaintiff his Miranda rights.[2] (Id.; CA at ¶ 2.) The officer next searched Plaintiff, and then took him to Vista County jail. (ECF No. 1 at 3.) Plaintiff was released at 9 a.m. the next morning after he posted a $50, 000 bond. (Id.; CA at ¶ 12.) Plaintiff obtained the funds to post bond after contacting Mr. Robert E. Baskin, co-trustee of the Living Water Trust, who authorized him to “use trust assets from a Checkbook to post a Bond of $50, 000.” (Id. at ¶ 4-6.)

         On February 5, 2019, Plaintiff presented himself for arraignment on the charges resulting from his October 12, 2018 arrest. (ECF No. 1 at 3.) At the hearing, Plaintiff was arrested on other charges and remanded to the state's custody pursuant to California Penal Code (“CPC”) § 1275.1. (Id. 3-4; ECF No. 1-3, Ex. 8 at 11.) Plaintiff was not permitted to review the bail order. (ECF No. 1 at 4.) Plaintiff was searched without being Mirandized and then taken to a holding cell. (Id.)

         A public defender assigned by the Court next waived the reading of the complaint and entered a plea of not guilty in both cases. (Id.; ECF No. 1-3, Ex. 8 at 7-8; CA at ¶¶ 16, 22, 38.) Plaintiff objected to entering a plea. (ECF No. 1 at 4.; CA at ¶¶ 17-21.) Plaintiff was held in County jail for about 21 days until February 25, 2019 when the state court held a hearing on the CPC § 1275.1 hold. (ECF No. 1 at 4; CA at ¶ 39.)

         During this period of incarceration, on February 17, 2019, Plaintiff hired Mr. John Staley to represent him on the bond for $2, 500. (ECF No. 1 at 6; CA at ¶ 40.) Two days later, on February 19, 2019, Mr. Staley informed Plaintiff that he could not represent him because the public defender's office was already his attorney of record. (ECF No. 1 at 9; CA at ¶ 41.). Then, on February 23, 2019, Plaintiff hired Mr. Michael Holmes, a second private attorney, “to coordinate the release from incarceration at the February 25, 2019 hearing” for $25, 000. (ECF No. 1 at 6; CA at ¶ 46.) Mr. Holmes was later relived as counsel on August 12, 2019 due to a conflict of interest. (ECF No. 1-4, Ex. 10 at 1-2; CA at ¶¶ 48-49.)

         b. The Complaint's Allegations

         Plaintiff's complaint contains a multitude of allegations that are difficult to parse for lack of specificity and direction. First, based on these facts, Plaintiff makes the broad claim that the “municipality” is engaged in a “cottage operation in the obstruction of justice” which consists of “abuse of legal process, abuse of discretion, Malconduct by attorney of record, Malice in law, Malice in fact, and disruption of public safety and peace in which such acts does not comport with constitutional Due Process of law.” (ECF No. 1 at 4.)

         Next, Plaintiff alleges that all Defendants are guilty of violating various constitutional provisions, including the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Eleventh and Fourteenth Amendments. (Id. at 7-8.) Plaintiff also contends that Defendants' conduct likewise violates three federal statutes: the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI § 601 (i.e. 40 U.S. Code § 14702), the Highway Safety Act of 1966, and the National Drivers Act of 1982. (Id. at 6-7.)

         Then, Plaintiff's complaint adds four “Counts” directed at the Honorable James E. Simmons, Jr. of the Superior Court of San Diego County (the “Judge”), the judge who presides over Plaintiff's criminal case. Under Count 1, Plaintiff alleges that the Judge is guilty of perjury. (Id. at 8-9 (citing 18 U.S.C. § 1621.)) Under Counts 2 and 3, Plaintiff alleges that the Judge is liable for several criminal offenses, including treason and seditious conspiracy. (Id. at 9-10 (citing 18 U.S.C. §§ 3, 4, 2381, 2382, 2383, 2384); id. at 11-12 (citing 18 U.S.C. §§ 241, 242.)) Lastly, under Count 4, Plaintiff alleges that the Judge “willfully and knowingly violate[d]” Plaintiff's constitutional rights and “created a public debt from said” unlawful conduct. (Id. at 12-18 (citing 31 U.S.C. § 3729; 18 U.S.C. §§ 1834, 1957; 42 U.S.C. 2000d-7.))

         II. Legal Standard

         A complaint must provide a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that [the Plaintiff] is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). That statement must “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). “Threadbare 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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted tests the legal sufficiency of the claims in the complaint. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting 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.” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). ‚ÄúDetermining whether a complaint states ...

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