Jones v. Cal. State Superior Courts, 1:17-cv-00232-DAD-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-DAD-BAM (PC)
Decision Date05 October 2017

DENO JONES, Plaintiff,

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


October 5, 2017


(ECF No. 1)


Plaintiff Deno Jones ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff initiated this action on February 17, 2017. Plaintiff's complaint, filed on February 17, 2017 (ECF No. 1), 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. Plaintiff brings suit against (1) California State Superior Courts, (2) California Department of Corrections, (3) California State Parole Hearing Board, and (4) California State Attorney General.

Plaintiff alleges 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 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 alleges he is eligible under Proposition 57 for a sentence reduction, as he is no longer considered a three-striker. In Claim I,

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Plaintiff alleges a denial of access to the Court. In Claim II, Plaintiff alleges false imprisonment. Plaintiff applied for the remedy and benefit of Proposition 57 and has been denied. In Claim III, Plaintiff alleges a Due Process violation based upon the same facts.

Plaintiff asks for an injunction or mandate to compel Defendants to act consistent with Proposition 57 and also asks for an award of damages for each day Plaintiff has spent in custody beyond his release date.

III. Deficiencies in Complaint

As discussed more fully below, Plaintiff's complaint fails to state a cognizable claim. Plaintiff will be given leave to amend his complaint. To assist Plaintiff in amending his complaint, the Court provides the following pleading and legal standards that apply to his claims.

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).



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2. Institutional Defendants

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

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

In any amended complaint that he may file, Plaintiff should carefully consider whom he may properly name as a defendant in this action.

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...

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