Jones v. Cal. State Superior Courts, 1:17-cv-00232-LJO-BAM (PC)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
Writing for the CourtBarbara A. McAuliffe UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
PartiesDENO JONES, Plaintiff, v. CALIFORNIA STATE SUPERIOR COURTS, et al., Defendants.
Docket Number1:17-cv-00232-LJO-BAM (PC)
Decision Date18 May 2018

DENO JONES, Plaintiff,

1:17-cv-00232-LJO-BAM (PC)


May 18, 2018


(ECF No. 15)


(ECF No. 17)


Plaintiff Deno Jones ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed this action on February 17, 2017. Plaintiff's complaint was screened and Plaintiff was granted leave to amend. Plaintiff's first amended complaint ("FAC") filed on October 25, 2017 (ECF No. 15), is currently before the Court for screening.

I. Screening Requirement and Standard

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff's complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

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A complaint must 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (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).

Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). To survive screening, Plaintiff's claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. United States Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

II. Plaintiff's Allegations

Plaintiff is currently housed at California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran, CA. (SATF) Plaintiff brings suit against (1) California, (2) California Department of Corrections, Secretary Scott Kernan (3) California State Parole Hearing Board, (4) Superior Courts of California, (4) California State Attorney General, (5) S. Kane, (6) T. Jones, (7) Warden Stuart Sherman, and (8) DOES 1-10.

Plaintiff1 all eges he filed applications under Proposition 57, Sentence Reform Act, to be given effect to him, and it authorizes a court action as remedy should the government refuse to

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give Proposition 57 effect. The Defendants California Superior Courts, California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, California Parole Hearing Board and the California State Attorney General have failed to give effect to Proposition 57. Plaintiff names S. Kane as "parole representative" and responsible for Parole Board referrals. Defendant T. Jones is a case record analysist supervisor at SATF responsible for case records of inmates. Defendant Stuart Sherman is the Warden and is responsible for health and safety of inmates at the facility.

Plaintiff alleges that on or about August 2, 2017 through August 20, 2017, Plaintiff Jones submitted a CDCR 22 to Defendant Kane requesting recall of commitment recommendation and that all recall eligibility requirements pursuant to 15 C.C.R. §3076 have been satisfied. Plaintiff Jones alleges that Defendant Kane failed or refused to initiate the recall of commitment recommendation, in violation of Due Process under California Constitution Art. 1, sec. 28 (ECF No. 15 p. 5.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant T. Jones ignored the requirements of Title 15 and the California Constitution. Plaintiffs, "and each of them," have petitioned and filed administrative requests for parole hearing under Proposition 57 which have been denied.

In Claim I, Plaintiff alleges each defendant breached their duty by denying the rights under the California Constitution Art. 1, sec 32. While the allegations are ambiguous, the Court interprets that each defendant failed to follow the law and denied plaintiffs the right of sentence adjustments based on the Cal. Constitution Art. 1, sec. 32. In Claim II, Plaintiff alleges defendants denied enforcing Cal. Constitution Art. 1, sec. 32. Plaintiff alleges that the California Superior Court did not grant habeas corpus relief upon application based on the void judgments. Defendant State Parole Hearing Board is required to consider parole release of prisoners who served their primary offenses. California Attorney General is required to cause Cal. Constitution Art. 1, sec. 32 to be given effect, yet no Defendant has adjusted Plaintiff's sentence.

Plaintiff asks for an injunction or mandate to compel Defendants to act consistent with Proposition 57.

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III. Deficiencies in Complaint

As discussed more fully below, Plaintiff's complaint fails to state a cognizable claim.

A. Linkage and Eleventh Amendment

Plaintiff sues several State entities for alleged constitutional violations.

1. Lack of Linkage

Most of plaintiff's allegations fail to assert the requisite causal link between the challenged conduct, a specific defendant, and a clearly identified constitutional violation. Under § 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that each named defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 676-7; Ewing v. City of Stockton, 588 F.3d 1218, 1235 (9th Cir. 2009); Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). Plaintiff may not attribute liability to a group of defendants, but must "set forth specific facts as to each individual defendant's" deprivation of his rights. Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988); see also Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Liability may not be imposed on supervisory personnel under the theory of respondeat superior, as each defendant is only liable for his or her own misconduct. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 676-77; Ewing, 588 F.3d at 1235. Supervisors may only be held liable if they "participated in or directed the violations, or knew of the violations and failed to act to prevent them." Lemire v. Cal. Dept. of Corrections & Rehabilitation, 726 F.3d 1062, 1074-75 (9th Cir. 2013).

Plaintiff fails to link Defendants Kernan, Kane, Jones and Sherman to any deprivation of his rights. Plaintiff may not simply refer to their titles or duties and say that they did not follow the law. Instead, Plaintiff's complaint must link each individually named defendant to an alleged deprivation of his rights and state what he did or did not do.

2. Institutional Defendants

Plaintiff names the State of California, CDCR, California State Superior Courts, California State Parole Hearing Board and the California State Attorney General as defendants in this action and seeks injunctive relief.

Plaintiff is informed, again, that the Eleventh Amendment prohibits federal courts from hearing a Section 1983 lawsuit in which damages or injunctive relief is sought against state

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agencies (such as the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) and individual prisons, absent "a waiver by the state or a valid congressional override...." Dittman v. California, 191 F.3d 1020, 1025 (9th Cir. 1999). "The Eleventh Amendment bars suits which seek either damages or injunctive relief against a state, 'an arm of the state,' its instrumentalities, or its agencies." See Fireman's Fund Ins. Co. v. City of Lodi, Cal., 302 F.3d 928, 957 n. 28 (9th Cir. 2002) (internal quotation and citations omitted), cert. denied, 538 U.S. 961 (2003). "The State of California has not waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity with respect to claims brought under § 1983 in federal court...." Dittman, 191 F.3d at 1025-26 (citing Atascadero State Hosp. v. Scanlon, 473 U.S. 234, 241 (1985)); see also Brown v. Cal. Dep't. of Corr., 554 F.3d 747, 752 (9th Cir. 2009). "However, under Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908), the Eleventh Amendment does not bar actions seeking only prospective declaratory or injunctive relief against state officers in their official capacities[,]" Fireman's Fund, 302 F.3d at 957 n. 28 (internal quotation and citation omitted), or, in appropriate instances, in their individual capacities, Idaho v. Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho, 521 U.S. 261, (1997) (citing Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. at 123).

As Plaintiff has been informed, Plaintiff cannot state a cognizable claim as against any of these entities as they are immune under the Eleventh Amendment.

B. Proposition 57

On November 8, 2016, the California voters approved The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016—Proposition ("Prop") 57—and it took effect the next day. People v. Marquez, 11 Cal. App. 5th 816, 821, 217 Cal.Rptr.3d 814 (Cal. App. 2017); Cal. Const., Art. II, § 10(a). Proposition 57 added Article 1, section 32 to the California Constitution. That section provides, in relevant part, "Parole consideration: Any person convicted of a nonviolent felony offense and sentenced to...

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