(PC) Dixon v. Lizarraga et al, No. 2:2019cv01966 - Document 24 (E.D. Cal. 2020)

Court Description: ORDER and FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS signed by Magistrate Judge Jeremy D. Peterson on 11/18/2020 ORDERING Clerk to assign a district judge and RECOMMENDING this case be dismissed with prejudice for Plaintiff's failure to state a claim. Assigned and referred to Judge Kimberly J. Mueller. Objections due within 30 days of the service of these findings and recommendations. (Henshaw, R)
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(PC) Dixon v. Lizarraga et al Doc. 24 Case 2:19-cv-01966-KJM-JDP Document 24 Filed 11/18/20 Page 1 of 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 13 14 15 Case No. 2:19-cv-01966-JDP (PC) DELMAR JEWELL DIXON, Jr., ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO DISMISS THE CASE WITH PREJUDICE FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM Plaintiff, v. JOE LIZARRAGA, et al., OBJECTIONS DUE IN THIRTY DAYS Defendants. ECF No. 22 16 17 18 Plaintiff Delmar Jewell Dixon, Jr. is a state prisoner proceeding without counsel in this 19 civil rights action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His third amended complaint, ECF No. 22, is 20 before the court for screening. He alleges that the six named defendants violated his 21 constitutional rights by generating and providing false information that was used to charge and 22 convict him in California state court of conspiracy to possess contraband in violation of 23 California Penal Code § 182, subd. (a)(1). ECF No. 22 at 8. Plaintiff does not allege that his 24 state criminal conviction has been reversed or overturned. Accordingly, his claims of “false 25 information” that bear on his conviction are barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 26 (1994). Further, plaintiff’s claims regarding: (1) defendants’ provision of false information 27 regarding a crime he was not convicted of; (2) defendants’ failure to read him Miranda warnings; 28 (3) defendants’ failure to provide him with counsel during prison disciplinary proceedings; and 1 Dockets.Justia.com Case 2:19-cv-01966-KJM-JDP Document 24 Filed 11/18/20 Page 2 of 6 1 (4) defendants’ violations of prison regulations and the state penal code do not state viable 2 constitutional claims. 3 4 Screening and Pleading Requirements A complaint must contain a short and plain statement that plaintiff is entitled to relief, 5 Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), and provide “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its 6 face,” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The plausibility standard does not 7 require detailed allegations, but legal conclusions do not suffice. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 8 662, 678 (2009). If the allegations “do not permit the court to infer more than the mere 9 possibility of misconduct,” the complaint states no claim. Id. at 679. The complaint need not 10 identify “a precise legal theory.” Kobold v. Good Samaritan Reg’l Med. Ctr., 832 F.3d 1024, 11 1038 (9th Cir. 2016). Instead, what plaintiff must state is a “claim”—a set of “allegations that 12 give rise to an enforceable right to relief.” Nagrampa v. MailCoups, Inc., 469 F.3d 1257, 1264 13 n.2 (9th Cir. 2006) (en banc) (citations omitted). At screening, we must identify cognizable 14 claims and dismiss “any portion of the complaint” that “is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a 15 claim upon which relief may be granted” or that “seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is 16 immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). 17 The court must construe a pro se litigant’s complaint liberally. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 18 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (per curiam). The court may dismiss a pro se litigant’s complaint “if it 19 appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which 20 would entitle him to relief.” Hayes v. Idaho Corr. Ctr., 849 F.3d 1204, 1208 (9th Cir. 2017). 21 However, “‘a liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements 22 of the claim that were not initially pled.’” Bruns v. Nat’l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 23 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)). 24 Discussion 25 A. 26 Heck states that: 27 28 False Information Bearing on Conviction [I]n order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or sentence invalid, 2 Case 2:19-cv-01966-KJM-JDP Document 24 Filed 11/18/20 Page 3 of 6 1 a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court’s issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. A claim for damages bearing that relationship to a conviction or sentence that has not been so invalidated is not cognizable under § 1983. 2 3 4 5 512 U.S. at 486-87 (footnote and citation omitted). Here, plaintiff appears to allege that 6 defendants generated and provided false information that state prosecutors relied on in obtaining 7 his conviction. ECF No. 22 at 8 (“Information provided by Joe Lizarraga and all defendants from 8 Mule Creek State Prison was used by [the] Amador District Attorney’s Office to file felony 9 charges.”). Plaintiff has not alleged that the relevant conviction has been overturned. Thus, any 10 claim relating to false information that underlies his conviction and was provided by defendants 11 cannot proceed. 12 B. False Information Related to Distribution of Drugs 13 Plaintiff complains that defendant Navarro falsely accused him of intending to distribute 14 drugs in a rules violation report. Id. at 10-11. He emphasizes that he was convicted of conspiracy 15 to obtain drugs but not of conspiracy to distribute them within the prison. Id. at 10 (“[Defendant] 16 Daniel Navarro only can prove that the plaintiff wanted to obtain drugs from his alleged co- 17 conspirators, not that his intent was to sell them.”). However, the filing of a false rules violation 18 report does not, standing alone, offend the constitution. See, e.g., Ellis v. Foulk, No. 14-cv-0802 19 AC P, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131831, 2014 WL 4676530, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 18, 2014) 20 (“Plaintiff’s protection from the arbitrary action of prison officials lies in ‘the procedural due 21 process requirements as set forth in Wolff v. McDonnell.’”) (citing Hanrahan v. Lane, 747 F.2d 22 1137, 1140 (7th Cir. 1984)); Solomon v. Meyer, No. 11-cv-02827-JST (PR), 2014 U.S. Dist. 23 LEXIS 9865, 2014 WL 294576, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 27, 2014) (“[T]here is no constitutionally 24 protected right to be free from false disciplinary charges.”) (citing Chavira v. Rankin, No. C 11- 25 5730 CW (PR), 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167423, 2012 WL 5914913, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 26, 26 2012)). 27 28 Plaintiff does claim that the false information regarding his intent to distribute drugs was used to keep him in administrative segregation. ECF No. 22 at 4. He has not sufficiently alleged, 3 Case 2:19-cv-01966-KJM-JDP Document 24 Filed 11/18/20 Page 4 of 6 1 however, that the disciplinary proceedings that led to his placement in administrative segregation 2 were constitutionally inadequate. See Gadsden v. Gehris, No. 20-cv-0470-WQH (DEB), 2020 3 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177509, *25, 2020 WL 5748094 (S.D. Cal. Sept. 25, 2020) (“The allegation of 4 the filing of false disciplinary charges by itself does not state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 5 because federal due process protections are contained in the ensuing disciplinary proceedings 6 themselves.”). Neither has he made allegations about the length of time that he was kept in 7 administrative segregation. Under the Supreme Court’s decision in Sandin v. Conner, only 8 “atypical, significant deprivation[s]” create liberty interests. 515 U.S. 472, 485-86 (1995). 9 Courts in this circuit have found that even lengthy stays in administrative segregation sometimes 10 do not amount to an atypical, significant deprivation. See, e.g., Rodgers v. Reynaga, No. CV 1- 11 06-1083-JAT, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81306, at *7, 2009 WL 621130 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 8, 2009) 12 (“Plaintiff’s placement in administrative segregation for five months was not an atypical and 13 significant hardship.”); Williams v. Foote, No. CV 08-2838-CJC (JTL), 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14 81598, *29-34 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 30, 2009) (no protected liberty interest where prisoner was housed 15 in administrative segregation for 701 days) (adopted at Williams v. Foote, No. CV 08-2838-CJC 16 (JTL), 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46676, 2009 WL 1520029 (C.D. Cal. May 28, 2009)). Defendants’ Failure to Mirandize and Provide Counsel in Disciplinary Proceedings 17 C. 18 Plaintiff claims that defendants violated his rights by failing to read him a Miranda 1 19 warning prior to his arrest or at “anytime during [his] case.” ECF No. 22 at 6. To the extent that 20 plaintiff argues that his state criminal conviction is flawed because of defendants’ alleged failure 21 to provide a Mirandize warning, that claim is Heck-barred. He may raise that claim, if at all, in a 22 petition for a writ of habeas corpus. And to the extent that he argues that defendants were 23 required to Mirandize him in connection with any prison disciplinary proceedings, that claim 24 fails. See Chavez v. Martinez, 538 U.S. 760, 772 (2003) (no section 1983 liability for failure to 25 provide Miranda warnings); see also Lopez v. Swarthout, NO. CV 09-0829-R (FMO), 2011 U.S. 26 27 28 1 See Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). 4 Case 2:19-cv-01966-KJM-JDP Document 24 Filed 11/18/20 Page 5 of 6 1 Dist. LEXIS 51845, *32, 2011 WL 1832710 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 22, 2011) (“[T]here is no per se rule 2 that any questioning conducted inside a prison setting requires a Miranda warning.”). 3 Similarly, there is no right to counsel in prison disciplinary proceedings. Wolff v. 4 McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 570 (1974). If plaintiff is alleging that his right to counsel was 5 violated with respect to his state conviction, that claim is Heck-barred and must be raised in a 6 petition for a writ of habeas corpus. 7 D. 8 As stated in the prior screening order, there is no section 1983 liability for violations of 9 Violations of Prison Regulations and the State Penal Code state law. See Lovell by & Through Lovell v. Poway Unified Sch. Dist., 90 F.3d 367, 370 (9th 10 Cir. 1996) (“To the extent that the violation of a state law amounts to the deprivation of a state- 11 created interest that reaches beyond that guaranteed by the federal Constitution, section 1983 12 offers no redress.”). 13 E. 14 I find that further opportunities for amendment are not warranted. While the Federal 15 Rules of Civil Procedure offer a policy of liberal amendment, “liberality in granting leave to 16 amend is subject to several limitations,” and “need not be granted where the amendment of the 17 complaint would cause the opposing party undue prejudice, is sought in bad faith, constitutes an 18 exercise in futility, or creates undue delay.” Ascon Properties, Inc. v. Mobil Oil Co., 866 F.2d 19 1149, 1160 (9th Cir. 1989). In addition, a “district court’s discretion to deny leave to amend is 20 particularly broad where plaintiff has previously amended the complaint.” Id. Here, plaintiff has 21 already been given multiple chances to amend and has failed to state a cognizable claim each 22 time. Further amendment thus appears futile. 23 24 Further Amendment It is ORDERED that the Clerk of Court shall assign a district judge to rule on these findings and recommendations. 25 For the reasons above, the court RECOMMENDS that this case be dismissed with 26 prejudice for plaintiff’s failure to state a claim. This recommendation will be submitted to a U.S. 27 district judge presiding over the case under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 304. Within 28 thirty days of the service of these findings and recommendations, the parties may file written 5 Case 2:19-cv-01966-KJM-JDP Document 24 Filed 11/18/20 Page 6 of 6 1 objections with the court and serve a copy on all parties. That document must be captioned 2 “Objections to Magistrate Judge’s Findings and Recommendations.” The presiding district judge 3 will then review the findings and recommendations under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). 4 5 IT IS SO ORDERED. 6 Dated: November 18, 2020 7 JEREMY D. PETERSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 6