Watkins v. Tuolumne County Superior Court, No. 1:2018cv00875 - Document 4 (E.D. Cal. 2018)

Court Description: FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS Recommending Dismissing 1 Complaint without Leave to Amend and Denying Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis 3 , signed by Magistrate Judge Stanley A. Boone on 7/10/18. Referred to Judge Drozd. Objections to F&R Due Within Thirty Days. (Gonzalez, R)
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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 RAYMOND C. WATKINS, Plaintiff, 12 13 14 Case No. 1:18-cv-00875-DAD-SAB FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING DISMISSING COMPLAINT WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND AND DENYING APPLICATION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS v. TUOLUMNE COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT, (ECF Nos. 1, 3) 15 Defendant. OBJECTIONS DUE WITHIN THIRTY DAYS 16 17 18 Plaintiff Raymond C. Watkins, a pretrial detainee, is appearing pro se in this civil rights 19 action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before the Court is Plaintiff’s complaint and an 20 application to proceed without prepayment of fees. 21 I. 22 SCREENING REQUIREMENT 23 The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a 24 governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). 25 The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner has raised claims that are 26 legally “frivolous or malicious,” that “fail[] to state a claim on which relief may be granted,” or 27 that “seek[] monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 28 1915(e)(2)(B). 1 A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the 1 2 pleader is entitled to relief. . . .” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not 3 required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere 4 conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell 5 Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Moreover, Plaintiff must demonstrate 6 that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of Plaintiff’s rights. Jones v. 7 Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002). Prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are entitled to have their pleadings 8 9 liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor. Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 10 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted). To survive screening, Plaintiff’s claims must be 11 facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer 12 that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; Moss 13 v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The “sheer possibility that a defendant 14 has acted unlawfully” is not sufficient, and “facts that are ‘merely consistent with’ a defendant’s 15 liability” falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678; Moss, 572 16 F.3d at 969. 17 II. 18 COMPLAINT ALLEGATIONS Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee in the custody of Tuolumne County. In this action Plaintiff 19 20 includes documents that he filed in the California Supreme Court alleging that the judge in his 21 case is prejudiced against him and is helping the district attorney. On June 13, 2018, the 22 California Supreme Court denied Plaintiff writ of habeas corpus. (ECF No. 1 at 11. 1) Plaintiff 23 includes a declaration in support of his writ of habeas corpus which largely includes citations to 24 case law. (Id. at 12-19.) Plaintiff states that he is seeking discovery on his claim for judicial 25 corruption. (Id. at 12.) Plaintiff alleges that he is being denied evidence by the judge and the 26 district attorney and alleges bribery and corruption of public officials. (Id. at 12-13.) 27 1 All references to pagination of specific documents pertain to those as indicated on the upper right corners via the 28 CM/ECF electronic court docketing system. 2 1 On September 29, 2016, Plaintiff was arrested by Officer Imlach and a deputy trainee 2 without any interview to determine if he was guilty or innocent. (Id. at 13.) He tried to call for 3 medical help for his wounds, but Deputy Imlach radioed for dispatch to ignore his 911 call. (Id.) 4 Plaintiff turned on the video on his phone. (Id.) Deputy Imlach tried to take Plaintiff’s phone 5 and Plaintiff put it in both of his hands behind his back. (Id.) Plaintiff asked for his boots 6 because he had just woken up. (Id.) Plaintiff’s phone was taken, the video was erased, and he 7 was denied his boots. (Id.) Plaintiff was taken outside and pushed off the porch when he asked 8 for foot protection. (Id.) Plaintiff was refused medical care for a month. (Id.) 9 Plaintiff was provided with discovery in October 2016. (Id.) In November 2017, 10 Plaintiff’s attorney told him that he did not have a case and had a new felony for violation of 11 California Penal Code section 69. (Id. at 13-14.) Plaintiff told his attorney that his discovery 12 alone would defend him from her attack. (Id. at 14.) Plaintiff called his mother around 13 December 23, 2017, and asked her to copy down the charges against him but not to give it to his 14 attorney. (Id.) Plaintiff’s mother ignored his instructions and met with his attorney and gave her 15 the discovery. (Id.) Plaintiff received his discovery on January 1, 2018 and it was in color with 16 no censoring of the confidential victim’s information. (Id.) There was also a black and white 17 copy of additional narrative with the confidential victim’s information censored. (Id.) 18 Plaintiff had begged for transcripts since December 2017, and finally got an altered 19 version in June 2018. (Id. at 18.) Plaintiff called his wife to get them for him when he realized 20 his attorney was blocking his request. (Id.) 21 Plaintiff alleges that the judicial team realized his arrest was unconstitutional and when 22 Tedi Watkins realized that they were charging him with a felony for asking her to communicate 23 with him they hatched a plan to protect Deputy Imlach. (Id. at 14.) Plaintiff contends that they 24 conspired to have him transferred to Stanislaus County and rebooked to create another case. (Id. 25 at 14-15.) Plaintiff states that the charges he was originally booked on have been dropped and he 26 is now in custody on new felony charges. (Id. at 15.) Plaintiff alleges that his public defender is 27 refusing to defend him, even ignoring evidence from witnesses that he was beaten by the victim 28 for years and evidence of mental issues. (Id.) Plaintiff’s wife admitted that she beat him on 3 1 multiple occasions and his public defender has not used that information to counter the 2 prosecution’s case or consulted an expert on domestic partner battering. (Id. at 19.) 3 Plaintiff contends that his right to a competency hearing is being violated and that his 4 counsel was illegally removed. (Id. at 18.) 5 III. 6 DISCUSSION 7 “Federal law opens two main avenues to relief on complaints related to imprisonment: a 8 petition for writ of habeas corpus, 28 U.S.C. § 2254, and a complaint under … 42 U.S.C. § 9 1983.” Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 750 (2004) (per curiam). “Challenges to the validity 10 of any confinement or to particulars affecting its duration are the province of habeas corpus; 11 requests for relief turning on circumstances of confinement may be presented in a § 1983 12 action.” Id. (internal citation omitted). Federal courts lack habeas jurisdiction over claims by 13 state prisoners that are not within “the core of habeas corpus.” Nettles v. Grounds, 830 F.3d 922, 14 934 (9th Cir. 2016) (en banc), cert. denied, 137 S.Ct. 645 (2017). A prisoner’s claims are within 15 the core of habeas corpus if they challenge the fact or duration of his conviction or sentence. Id. 16 at 934. “[W]hen a prisoner’s claim would not ‘necessarily spell speedier release,’ that claim 17 does not lie at “the core of habeas corpus,’ and may be brought, if at all, under § 1983.” Skinner 18 v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521, 534 n.13 (2011) (citing Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U.S. 74, 82 (2005)); 19 Nettles, 830 F.3d at 934. 20 Here, Plaintiff clearly brings a writ of habeas corpus to challenge the validity of his 21 confinement. As such, the proper avenue to seek such relief is by way of habeas corpus petition 22 filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Therefore, Plaintiff’s complaint must be dismissed. 23 Although the Court would generally grant Plaintiff leave to amend in light of his pro se 24 status, amendment is futile in this instance because the deficiencies cannot be cured by 25 amendment. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127 (9th Cir. 2000); Schmier v. U.S. Court of 26 Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 279 F.3d 817, 824 (9th Cir. 2002) (recognizing “[f]utility of 27 amendment” as a proper basis for dismissal without leave to amend); see also Trimble v. City of 28 Santa Rosa, 49 F.3d 583, 586 (9th Cir. 1995) (a civil rights complaint seeking habeas relief 4 1 should be dismissed without prejudice to filing as a petition for writ of habeas corpus). 2 Additionally, the Court notes that on June 26, 2018, Plaintiff filed a writ of habeas corpus 3 addressing the claims that he seeks to bring here. Watkins v. Tuolumne County Superior Court, 4 No. 1:18-cv-00876-EPG (E.D. Cal.) Therefore, a further habeas petition would be duplicative of 5 the claims that are currently pending in Watkins v. Tuolumne County Superior Court, No. 1:186 cv-00876-EPG. 7 IV. 8 APPLICATION TO PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYMENT OF FEES 9 Plaintiff filed an application to proceed in this action without prepayment of fees. 10 Plaintiff did not file an application by a prisoner and therefore used the incorrect application. 11 However, “[a] district court may deny leave to proceed in forma pauperis at the outset if it 12 appears from the face of the proposed complaint that the action is frivolous or without merit.” 13 Minetti v. Port of Seattle, 152 F.3d 1113, 1115 (9th Cir. 1998), as amended (Sept. 9, 1998) 14 (quoting Tripati v. First Nat’l Bank & Trust, 821 F.2d 1368, 1370 (9th Cir. 1987)); see also 15 Smart v. Heinze, 347 F.2d 114, 116 (9th Cir. 1965) (“It is the duty of the District Court to 16 examine any application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis to determine whether the 17 proposed proceeding has merit and if it appears that the proceeding is without merit, the court is 18 bound to deny a motion seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis.”) In light of the finding that 19 Plaintiff’s claims must be adjudicated in a writ of habeas corpus, the Court recommends that the 20 application to proceed without prepayment of fees be denied. 21 V. 22 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION 23 For the reasons stated, Plaintiff has failed to state a cognizable claim under section 1983. 24 Upon review of the allegations in the complaint, the Court finds that allowing amendment of the 25 complaint would be futile. See Hartmann v. CDCR, 707 F.3d 1114, 1130 (9th Cir. 2013) (“A 26 district court may deny leave to amend when amendment would be futile.”) Based on the nature 27 of the deficiencies at issue, the Court finds that further leave to amend is not warranted. Lopez, 28 203 F.3d at 1130; Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446-1449 (9th Cir. 1987). 5 1 Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY RECOMMENDED that: 2 1. Plaintiff’s complaint be DISMISSED without leave to amend; and 3 2. Plaintiff’s application to proceed in forma pauperis be DENIED. 4 This findings and recommendations is submitted to the district judge assigned to this 5 action, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and this Court’s Local Rule 304. Within thirty (30) 6 days of service of this recommendation, Plaintiff may file written objections to this findings and 7 recommendations with the Court. Such a document should be captioned “Objections to 8 Magistrate Judge’s Findings and Recommendations.” The district judge will review the 9 magistrate judge’s findings and recommendations pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). 10 Plaintiff is advised that failure to file objections within the specified time may result in the 11 waiver of rights on appeal. Wilkerson v. Wheeler, 772 F.3d 834, 839 (9th Cir. 2014) (citing 12 Baxter v. Sullivan, 923 F.2d 1391, 1394 (9th Cir. 1991)). 13 14 IT IS SO ORDERED. 15 Dated: July 10, 2018 UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 6