(HC) Fountain v. Director, No. 1:2022cv01231 - Document 7 (E.D. Cal. 2023)

Court Description: ORDER to Assign District Judge; FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS to Dismiss 1 Petition, signed by Magistrate Judge Helena M. Barch-Kuchta on 1/19/2023. Referred to Judge de Alba; Objections to F&R due within fourteen (14) days. (Rivera, O)
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(HC) Fountain v. Director Doc. 7 Case 1:22-cv-01231-ADA-HBK Document 7 Filed 01/19/23 Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 ERNEST ROGER FOUNTAIN, JR., 12 Petitioner, 13 v. 14 Case No. 1:22-cv-01231-HBK (HC) ORDER TO ASSIGN DISTRICT JUDGE FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO DISMISS PETITION1 DIRECTOR, (Doc. No. 1) 15 Respondent. FOURTEEN-DAY OBJECTION PERIOD 16 17 18 Petitioner Ernest Roger Fountain, Jr., a state prisoner, initiated this action by filing a pro 19 se petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on September 27, 2022. (Doc. No. 20 1, “Petition”). On December 7, 2022, the Court conducted a preliminary review of the Petition 21 and determined that the Petition failed to name a proper respondent and failed to state a 22 cognizable federal habeas claim. (Doc. No. 5). Specifically, the Court noted that Petitioner failed 23 to specify any facts to support the conclusory violations asserted in his Petition, as required under 24 Rule 2(c) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases. (Id. at 3). The Court afforded Petitioner 25 an opportunity to file an amended petition within thirty days. Over thirty days have passed, and 26 Petitioner did not file an amended petition. The Court duly warned Petitioner that if he failed to 27 1 28 This matter was referred to the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 302 (E.D. Cal. 2022). Dockets.Justia.com Case 1:22-cv-01231-ADA-HBK Document 7 Filed 01/19/23 Page 2 of 4 1 file an amended petition, the undersigned would recommend that the Petition be dismissed for the 2 above reasons and/or for his failure to prosecute this action. Therefore, the undersigned 3 recommends the district court dismiss this action without prejudice. 4 5 I. APPPLICABLE LAW Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) permits the court to involuntarily dismiss an action 6 when a litigant fails to prosecute an action or fails to comply with other Rules or with a court 7 order. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b); see Applied Underwriters v. Lichtenegger, 913 F.3d 884, 889 8 (9th Cir. 2019) (citations omitted). Local Rule 110 similarly permits the court to impose 9 sanctions on a party who fails to comply with the court’s Rules or any order of the court. 10 Before dismissing an action under Fed. R. Civ. P. 41, the court must consider: (1) the 11 public interest in expeditious resolution of litigation; (2) the court’s need to manage a docket; (3) 12 the risk of prejudice to defendant; (4) public policy favoring disposition on the merits; and (5) the 13 availability of less drastic sanctions. See Applied Underwriters, 913 F.3d at 889 (noting that 14 these five factors “must” be analyzed before a Rule 41 involuntarily dismissal) (emphasis added); 15 Malone v. U.S. Postal Service, 833 F.2d 128, 130 (9th Cir. 1987) (reviewing five factors and 16 independently reviewing the record because district court did not make finding as to each); but 17 see Bautista v. Los Angeles County, 216 F.3d 837, 841 (9th Cir. 2000) (listing the same, but 18 noting the court need not make explicit findings as to each) (emphasis added); Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 19 963 F.2d 1258, 1260 (9th Cir. 1992) (affirming dismissal of pro se § 1983 action when plaintiff 20 did not amend caption to remove “et al” as the court directed and reiterating that an explicit 21 finding of each factor is not required by the district court). 22 23 II. ANALYSIS The undersigned considers the above-stated factors and concludes the majority of the 24 above factors favor dismissal in this case. The expeditious resolution of litigation is deemed to be 25 in the public interest. Yourish v. California Amplifier, 191 F.2d 983, 990-91 (9th Cir. 1999). 26 Turning to the second factor, the court’s need to efficiently manage its docket cannot be 27 overstated. This court has “one of the heaviest caseloads in the nation,” and due to the delay in 28 filling judicial vacancies, which was further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, it operates 2 Case 1:22-cv-01231-ADA-HBK Document 7 Filed 01/19/23 Page 3 of 4 1 under a declared judicial emergency. See Amended Standing Order in Light of Ongoing Judicial 2 Emergency in the Eastern District of California. The court’s time is better spent on its other 3 matters than needlessly consumed managing a case with a recalcitrant litigant. Indeed, “trial 4 courts do not have time to waste on multiple failures by aspiring litigants to follow the rules and 5 requirements of our courts.” Pagtalunan v. Galaza, 291 F.3d 639, 644 (9th Cir. 2002) (Trott, J., 6 concurring in affirmance of district court’s involuntary dismissal with prejudice of habeas petition 7 where petitioner failed to timely respond to court order and noting “the weight of the docket- 8 managing factor depends upon the size and load of the docket, and those in the best position to 9 know what that is are our beleaguered trial judges.”). Delays inevitably have the inherent risk 10 that evidence will become stale or witnesses’ memories will fade or be unavailable and can 11 prejudice a respondent. See Sibron v. New York, 392 U.S. 40, 57 (1968). 12 As to the fourth factor, a preference to rule on the merits usually weighs against dismissal 13 because public policy favors disposition on the merits. Pagtalunan v. Galaza, 291 F.3d 639, 643 14 (9th Cir. 2002). Here, the Petition is facially deficient. First, the Petition failed to name a proper 15 respondent, identifying “Director” as Respondent. A petitioner seeking habeas corpus relief must 16 name the officer having custody of him as the respondent to the petition. Rule 2(a) of the Rules 17 Governing § 2254 Cases; Ortiz-Sandoval v. Gomez, 81 F.3d 891, 894 (9th Cir. 1996); Stanley v. 18 California Supreme Court, 21 F.3d 359, 360 (9th Cir. 1994). Petitioner’s failure to name a proper 19 respondent requires dismissal of his habeas petition for lack of jurisdiction. Stanley, 21 F.3d at 20 360; Olson v. California Adult Auth., 423 F.2d 1326, 1326 (9th Cir. 1970); see also Billiteri v. 21 United States Bd. Of Parole, 541 F.2d 938, 948 (2nd Cir. 1976). Further, as noted in the Court’s 22 previous Order, the Petition fails to identify any facts to support any of the grounds for relief 23 asserted in the Petition. (See Doc. No. 5 at 3). Thus, Petitioner has not presented a matter on the 24 merits for the Court to consider. Additionally, the instant dismissal is a dismissal without 25 prejudice, which is a lesser sanction than a dismissal with prejudice. And finally, a court’s 26 warning to a party that failure to obey the court’s order will result in dismissal satisfies the 27 “consideration of alternative” requirement. See Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1262. The Court’s previous 28 Order expressly warned Petitioner that if he failed to respond, the undersigned would recommend 3 Case 1:22-cv-01231-ADA-HBK Document 7 Filed 01/19/23 Page 4 of 4 1 the district court dismiss the Petition. (Doc. No. 5 at 4, ¶4). Thus, Petitioner had adequate 2 warning that dismissal would result from his noncompliance with the Court’s order. 3 4 After considering the factors set forth supra and binding case law, the undersigned recommends dismissal, without prejudice, under Fed. R. Civ. P. 41 and Local Rule 110. Accordingly, it is ORDERED: 5 6 The Clerk of Court is directed to assign a district judge to this case. It is further RECOMMENDED: 7 8 9 1. This case be dismissed without prejudice for failure to prosecute and/or comply with a court order. 10 11 2. The Clerk of Court be directed to terminate any pending motions/deadlines and close this case. NOTICE TO PARTIES 12 13 These findings and recommendations will be submitted to the United States district judge 14 assigned to the case, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Within fourteen (14) 15 days after being served with these findings and recommendations, a party may file written 16 objections with the court. The document should be captioned “Objections to Magistrate Judge’s 17 Findings and Recommendations.” Parties are advised that failure to file objections within the 18 specified time may result in the waiver of rights on appeal. Wilkerson v. Wheeler, 772 F.3d 834, 19 838-39 (9th Cir. 2014) (citing Baxter v. Sullivan, 923 F.2d 1391, 1394 (9th Cir. 1991)). 20 21 22 Dated: January 19, 2023 HELENA M. BARCH-KUCHTA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 23 24 25 26 27 28 4
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