Unpublished Disposition, 924 F.2d 1062 (9th Cir. 1989)Annotate this Case
Viquar AHMED, Plaintiff-Appellant,v.COUNTY OF ORANGE, Ronald A. Scott, and Russell C. PattonDefendant-Appellee.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Submitted: Dec. 7, 1990.* Decided Jan. 29, 1991.
Before FARRIS, CYNTHIA HOLCOMB HALL, and KOZINSKI, Circuit Judges.
Viquar Ahmed appeals in propria persona the district court's order granting summary judgment to the County of Orange in his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action. Ahmed claims that members of the Orange County Board of Supervisors entered into a conspiracy with state appellate judges with the unlawful objective of rigging cases in the County's favor. On appeal he argues that the district court erred in: (1) granting summary judgment, (2) dismissing defendants Ronald Scott and Russell Patton, and (3) ruling that Ahmed waived his right to a jury trial. We affirm.
Ahmed brought several lawsuits in superior court to compel Orange County to appoint an arbitrator to hear his employment grievances. The California Court of Appeals consolidated Ahmed's suits and denied him relief. Ahmed brought this Section 1983 action against the County and two directors of the County Board of Supervisors, Ronald A. Scott and Russell C. Patton, alleging that the state Court of Appeals' decision resulted from a conspiracy between the defendants and judges to rig cases in the County's favor. Ahmed claimed that County officials lobbied the state legislature to create an appellate division for Orange County and to appoint specific judges to the bench, and in return, the judges who were appointed agreed to rule in favor of the County in certain cases.
The County moved for summary judgment. Ahmed did not oppose the motion. The district court found that Ahmed presented no evidence to support the conspiracy claim and granted summary judgment.
To prove a conspiracy under section 1983, Ahmed must show an agreement or "meeting of the minds" by the defendants to violate his constitutional rights. See Caldeira v. County of Kauai, 866 F.2d 1175, 1181 (9th Cir.) cert. denied, 110 S. Ct. 69 (1989) (citing Fonda v. Gray, 707 F.2d 435, 438 (9th Cir. 1983)). In order to avoid summary judgment, Ahmed must produce evidence of a common conspiratorial objective. Fonda, 707 F.2d at 438. The record contains no such evidence. We cannot infer an agreement to rig cases from the fact that the court consolidated Ahmed's lawsuits and denied him relief. Nor can we infer such an agreement from the fact that prior to Judge Crosby's appointment to the court he served as counsel to Orange County Supervisor Bruce Nestande in a matter unrelated to this case. The uncontroverted facts do not support Ahmed's claim of conspiracy. Summary judgment therefore was proper.
The district court found that defendants Ronald A. Scott and Russell C. Patton were not served with the complaint within 120 days after filing, and dismissed the action against them pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(j). Ahmed argues that because Scott and Patton were Personnel Directors for the County, the clerk of the County Board of Supervisors was an agent authorized to receive service on their behalf, and he served them by leaving copies of the complaint with the clerk.
The dismissal of Scott and Patton from the action is not before this court. The order dismissing Scott and Patton was entered August 15, 1988. Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a) (1) requires that notice of appeal be filed within 30 days after the date of entry of the order appealed from. Ahmed did not file notice of appeal until April 17, 1989, and the notice provided that "Plaintiff appeals from the judgment of March 14, 1989 in this matter." The only issue before us is the summary judgment, which for the reasons stated, we affirm.
The district court ruled on December 5, 1988 that Ahmed failed to request a jury trial and therefore waived his right to a jury trial. Ahmed argues that in a report of a meeting with opposing counsel filed September 23, 1988, he estimated a 5 day jury trial, and that this reference was a demand for jury trial under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 38(b).
The ruling that Ahmed waived his right to a jury trial is not before the court. Ahmed filed no notice of appeal of the ruling within 30 days of entry of the ruling. Nor did he move pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 39(b) to be granted a jury trial notwithstanding his failure to make a proper demand. In the notice of appeal that Ahmed filed on April 17, 1989, he challenged only the summary judgment entered on March 14, 1989.
We recognize that we have "a duty to ensure that pro se litigants do not lose their right to a hearing on the merits of their claim due to ignorance of technical requirements." Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dept., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). Summary judgment was not entered against Ahmed on the basis of technical requirements. The reason for summary judgment was the absence of evidence to support his claim of conspiracy.