Solorio v. Judge Johnson

Decision Date14 January 2016
Docket Number15-cv-657 DAD-EPG
PartiesANSELMO SOLORIO, Plaintiff, v. JUDGE JOHNSON et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of California

(Docs. 13 and 16)


Plaintiff, Anselmo Solorio ("Plaintiff") appearing pro se and informa pauperis., has filed numerous documents including a Complaint (Doc. 1), a "Motion Requesting a Change of District" (Doc. 13), a First Amended Complaint (Doc. 14), a Motion for Court Documents (Doc. 16), a Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 17), a Notice (Doc. 18), as well as miscellaneous court documents.1 (Doc. 10). Upon a review of the pleadings, the Court dismisses all of the complaints filed with leave to amend. Furthermore, Plaintiff's Motion Requesting a Change of District, and his Motion for Court Documents are denied. (Doc. 13 and 16).

A. Legal Standard

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court must conduct an initial review of the Complaint to determine whether it "state[s] a claim on which relief may be granted," is "frivolous ormalicious," or "seek[s] monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief." If the Court determines that the Complaint fails to state a claim, it must be dismissed. Id. Leave to amend may be granted to the extent that the deficiencies in the Complaint can be cured by amendment. Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995). Courts deem a complaint "frivolous" when it lacks "basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325, 109 S.Ct. 1827 (1989). In other words, a complaint is frivolous where the litigant asserts "not only the inarguable legal conclusion, but also the fanciful factual allegation." Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 325.

To state a claim, 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. at 1949-50 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 663 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). While factual allegations are accepted as true, legal conclusions are not. Id. at 678.

To determine whether a Complaint states an actionable claim, the Court must accept the allegations in the Complaint as true, Hosp. Bldg. Co. v. Trs. of Rex Hosp., 425 U.S. 738, 740 (1976), construe pro se pleadings liberally in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000), and resolve all doubts in the Plaintiff's favor. Jenkins v. McKeithen, 395 U.S. 411, 421 (1969). Pleadings of pro se plaintiffs "must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (holding that pro se complaints should continue to be liberally construed after Iqbal).




B. Plaintiff's Complaints
1. Motions Related to Plaintiff's Criminal Case

After filing the initial Complaint, Plaintiff filed two amended Complaints without obtaining leave of the court to do so. (Docs. 1, 14, 17). All of the Complaints are difficult to read because they are not legible or coherent. Moreover, many of the documents allege facts involving different incidents and name several defendants.

Although the allegations are unclear, the initial Complaint and subsequent filings raise claims related to Plaintiff's ongoing criminal matter in the Potterville Superior Court. (Docs. 1, 10, 13, 14, 16, and 17). Moreover, his Second Amended Complaint includes excessive force claims against officers that occurred while he was in pretrial detention on his criminal case. Plaintiff has also filed a document entitled, "Motion to Change District," and a Motion for Court Documents that appear to request that his state criminal proceedings be transferred to this Court, or that this Court make orders relating to his pending state criminal case. (Docs. 13 and 16).

As a preliminary matter, Plaintiff is advised that he cannot file claims based on numerous incidents in one case. Plaintiff must file a separate case based on each alleged incident. At this juncture, Plaintiff has filed so many documents in this case that the Court is unable to discern which claims Plaintiff wishes to pursue. Therefore, the Court will give Plaintiff leave to amend his complaints consistent with the instructions outlined below.

With regard to the allegations of misconduct by state officials in his pending criminal case, Plaintiff is advised that in Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 91 S.Ct. 746 (1971), the Supreme Court held that a federal court was prohibited from enjoining a state criminal proceeding without a valid showing of "extraordinary circumstances" that warrant federal intervention. Id. at 43-54; see Gilbertson v. Albright, 381 F.3d 965, 984 (9th Cir. 2004) (Younger Abstention applies to actions for damages). Under the Younger Abstention Doctrine, federal courts may not stay or enjoin pending state criminal court proceedings, nor grant monetary damages for constitutional violations arising from them. Mann v. Jett, 781 F.2d 1448, 1449 (9th Cir. 1986). Younger abstention is appropriate when: (1) the state court proceedings are ongoing; (2) the proceedingsimplicate important state interests; and (3) the state proceedings provide an adequate opportunity to raise the constitutional claims. Middlesex County Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 432, 102 S.Ct. 2515; Baffert v. Cal. Horse Racing Bd., 332 F.3d 613, 617 (9th Cir. 2003).

When an injunction is sought and Younger applies, the Ninth Circuit has held that dismissal of the federal case is appropriate. Gilbertson, 381 F.3d at 981. ("When an injunction is sought and Younger applies, it makes sense to abstain, that is, to refrain from exercising jurisdiction, permanently by dismissing the federal action because the federal court is only being asked to stop the state proceeding"). However, "federal courts should not dismiss actions where damages are at issue; rather, damages actions should be stayed until the state proceedings are completed." Gilbertson, 381 F.3d at 968; accord Los Altos El Granada Investors v. City of Capitola, 583 F.3d 674, 689-90 (9th Cir. 2009) ("[B]ecause in damages cases there may yet be something for the federal courts to decide after completion of the state proceedings ... [t]he district court—quite appropriately—did not dismiss under Younger but stayed the proceedings pending the final decision of the California courts.").

Plaintiff seeks both injunctive relief and monetary damages in his complaints the alleged constitutional violations during his criminal case. At this juncture, it appears that Younger abstention applies since Plaintiff's case was ongoing at the time he filed this action. Moreover, it is well established that enforcement of criminal matters implicates an important state interest. See Pennzoil Co. v. Texaco, Inc., 481 U.S. 1, 13, 107 S.Ct. 1519 (1987) (enforcement of state court judgments and orders implicates important state interests); see also People of State of Cal. v. Mesa, 813 F.2d 960, 966 (9th Cir.1987) ("A [state's] ability to protect its citizens from violence and other breaches of the peace through enforcement of criminal laws is the centermost pillar of sovereignty."). Finally, Plaintiff can raise his constitutional claims related to his ongoing criminal case in the state court since he can appeal any unfavorable decision to the state appellate court. "Younger requires only the absence of 'procedural bars' to raising the federal claim in the state proceedings." Commc'ns Telesys. Int'lv. Cal. Pub. Util. Comm'n, 196 F.3d 1011, 1020 (9th Cir. 1999); see also Juidice v. Vail, 430 U.S. 327, 337 (1977) ("Appellees need be accorded onlyan opportunity to fairly pursue their constitutional claims in the ongoing state proceedings, and their failure to avail themselves of such opportunities does not mean that the state procedures were inadequate"). Here, no procedural bars appear to be present. Thus, this court is not able to issue orders related to Plaintiff's criminal proceedings, or transfer Plaintiff's criminal proceedings to this district.

In other words, this Court will not hear a case in which Plaintiff is complaining about his ongoing state case, nor will it terminate the state criminal case. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Motions to Change District and his Motion for Court Documents (Docs. 13 and 16) are DENIED.

Moreover, under Wallace v. Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 393-94, 127 S.Ct. 1091, 1098 (2007), if a plaintiff files any claim related to rulings that will likely be made in a pending or anticipated criminal trial, it is within the power of the district court, and in accord with common practice, to stay the civil action until the criminal case has ended. Furthermore, if Plaintiff is ultimately convicted in his criminal case, and if the stayed civil suit would impugn the conviction, this Court would dismiss the federal action. Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 481-482, 114 S.Ct. 2364 (1994) (a § 1983 action for damages will not lie where "establishing the basis for the damages claim necessarily demonstrates the invalidity of the conviction."). Therefore, depending on the damages Plaintiff is seeking, any federal civil case regarding his state criminal case would need to be dismissed, or stayed pending the resolution of the criminal matter, and will be dismissed if Plaintiff is convicted until all appeals are exhausted.

In short, this Court will not rule on issues that concern Plaintiff's ongoing state criminal case at this stage of his criminal proceedings.

Finally, it appears that Plaintiff...

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