Entler v. Gregoire, No. 14-35053 (9th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Threats to sue fall within the purview of the constitutionally protected right to file grievances. Both the filing of a criminal complaint by a prisoner, as well as the threat to do so, are protected by the First Amendment, provided they are not baseless. Plaintiff, a prisoner at the Washington State Penitentiary (WSP), filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that his First Amendment rights were violated when he was disciplined for threatening to initiate civil litigation and file a criminal complaint against prison officials. The Ninth Circuit held that because plaintiff had alleged cognizable First Amendment retaliation claims regarding his threats to sue, and qualified immunity did not attach, it was improper to dismiss the complaint in its entirety under Rule 12(c). However, in regard to plaintiff's threat to file a criminal complaint, even though it was a constitutionally protected right, qualified immunity attached. Therefore, dismissal of that aspect of the complaint was proper. Accordingly, the court reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded.