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Jackson v. Grimaldo

United States District Court, D. Nevada

October 17, 2017



          GEORGE FOLEY, JR. United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s Application to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (ECF No. 1), filed on August 8, 2016.


         In Count I, Plaintiff alleges that his right to due process of the law was violated by Defendant Diego Grimaldo of the United States Marshal Service and John Doe of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Specifically, Plaintiff asserts that on August 5, 2014, during an evidentiary hearing, Defendant falsely testified as to Plaintiff’s alleged “flight” and attempt to conceal his identity. In Count II, Plaintiff alleges that his right to a fair trial and due process of the law was violated on August 18, 2014 when Defendant testified before a jury at Plaintiff’s trial. He alleges that Defendant’s testimony was false and misled the jury. In Count III, Plaintiff alleges that his right against unreasonable search and seizure and right to due process of the law was violated. Plaintiff was subject to a traffic stop on May 20, 2011 and he alleges that the traffic stop, arrest, and subsequent incarceration was unconstitutional because the warrant was void, he was not charged until June 1, 2011, and because a detective admitted to lying under oath before the federal grand jury that indicted Plaintiff. According to his complaint, Plaintiff was convicted and is in custody at High Desert State Prison.


         I. Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

         Plaintiff filed this instant action and attached a financial affidavit to his application and complaint as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Reviewing Plaintiff’s financial affidavit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Court finds that Plaintiff is unable to pre-pay the filing fee. As a result, Plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis in federal court is granted.

         II. Screening the Complaint

         Upon granting a request to proceed in forma pauperis, a court must additionally screen a complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). Specifically, federal courts are given the authority to dismiss a case if the action is legally “frivolous or malicious,” fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant/third party plaintiff who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). A complaint, or portion thereof, should be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted “if it appears beyond a doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claims that would entitle him to relief.” Buckey v. Los Angeles, 968 F.2d 791, 794 (9th Cir. 1992). A complaint may be dismissed as frivolous if it is premised on a nonexistent legal interest or delusional factual scenario. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327–28 (1989). Moreover, “a finding of factual frivolousness is appropriate when the facts alleged rise to the level of the irrational or the wholly incredible, whether or not there are judicially noticeable facts available to contradict them.” Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992). When a court dismisses a complaint under § 1915(e), the plaintiff should be given leave to amend the complaint with directions as to curing its deficiencies, unless it is clear from the face of the complaint that the deficiencies could not be cured by amendment. See Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995).

         The Court shall liberally construe a complaint by a pro se litigant. Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 2007). This is especially important for civil rights complaints. Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1261 (9th Cir. 1992). However, a liberal construction may not be used to supply an essential element of the claim absent from the complaint. Bruns v. Nat’l Credit Union Admin., 12 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Board of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)).

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Review under Rule 12(b)(6) is essentially a ruling on a question of law. See Chappel v. Laboratory Corp. of America, 232 F.3d 719, 723 (9th Cir. 2000). A properly pled complaint must provide a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombley, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Although Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, it demands “more than labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)). The court must accept as true all well-pled factual allegations contained in the complaint, but the same requirement does not apply to legal conclusions. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950. Mere recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported only by conclusory allegations, do not suffice. Id. at 1949. Secondly, where the claims in the complaint have not crossed the line from plausible to conceivable, the complaint should be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         III. Instant Complaint

         Plaintiff’s complaint seeks relief for what appears to be alleged violations of his Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Plaintiff seeks damages pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S.Ct. 1999 (1971), for alleged violations of his constitutional rights. In Bivens, the Supreme Court established the right to bring a lawsuit for money damages against individual law enforcement officials acting under color of federal law. A Bivens action cannot be brought against the United States, agencies of the United States or federal agents in their official capacity. See FDIC v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 486 (1994). Bivens actions against federal employees are the “judicially crafted counterpart” to claims against state actors arising under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Chavez v. I.N.S., 17 F.Supp.2d 1141, 1143 (S.D.Cal.1998).

         Section 1983 and “the federal habeas corpus statute ... both provide access to the federal court ‘for claims of unconstitutional treatment at the hands of state officials ... [but] they differ in their scope and operation.” Pattillo v. Lombardo, 2017 WL 3622778, at *4 (D. Nev. Aug. 23, 2017) (citing Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 854 (9th Cir. 2003)). In Heck v. Humphrey, the Supreme Court held that a state prisoner may not maintain a § 1983 claim for damages if a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence.” 512 U.S. 477, 480 (1994); see also Clemons v. Williams, 2016 WL 1238229, at *2 (D. Nev. Mar. 29, 2016); Martin v. Sias, 88 F.3d 774, 775 (9th Cir.1996) (applying § 1983 rationale of Heck to Bivens action). Accordingly, under Heck, an action that challenges the validity of a plaintiff’s criminal conviction or confinement is not cognizable unless the plaintiff can prove that his or her sentence has been reversed, expunged, ...

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