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Williams v. King

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

November 9, 2017

Michael B. Williams, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Audrey King, Executive Director, Coalinga State Hospital; Coalinga State Hospital, Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued and Submitted August 14, 2017 San Francisco, California

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California Michael J. Seng, Magistrate Judge, Presiding D.C. No. 1:13-cv-01253-MJS

          Andrew Bentz (argued), Jones Day, Washington, D.C., for Plaintiff-Appellant.

          Karli A. Eisenberg (argued), Deputy Attorney General; Niromi W. Pfeiffer, Supervising Deputy Attorney General; Julie Weng-Gutierrez, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Xavier Becerra, Attorney General; Office of the Attorney General, Sacramento, California; for Amicus Curiae California Attorney General.

          Before: Johnnie B. Rawlinson and N. Randy Smith, Circuit Judges, and Susan P. Watters, [*] District Judge.

         SUMMARY[**]

         Prisoner Civil Rights / Civil Procedure

         The panel vacated a magistrate judge's dismissal of an action brought by a civil detainee pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and remanded for further proceedings.

         After plaintiff consented to have his case decided by a magistrate judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1), the magistrate judge dismissed plaintiff's complaint prior to service of process for failure to state a claim. The panel held that 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1) requires the consent of all plaintiffs and defendants named in the complaint- irrespective of service of process-before jurisdiction may vest in a magistrate judge to hear and decide a civil case that a district court would otherwise hear. Because consent was not obtained from the defendants in this case, the magistrate judge lacked jurisdiction to dismiss the complaint. The panel therefore vacated the dismissal and remanded.

          OPINION

          N.R. SMITH, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1) requires the consent of all plaintiffs and defendants named in the complaint-irrespective of service of process-before jurisdiction may vest in a magistrate judge to hear and decide a civil case that a district court would otherwise hear. Because consent was not obtained from the defendants in this case, we vacate the magistrate judge's dismissal and remand.

         I

         Under California's Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), inmates, approaching the end of their sentence or nearing eligibility for supervised release, may be referred for evaluation to determine if they pose a continuing risk of committing sexually violent offenses. Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 6601(a). If, after these evaluations, it is determined that the individual is a sexually violent predator, the government may request a probable cause hearing to establish a basis for tolling parole eligibility or release until the resolution of a jury trial to prove that the individual is a sexually violent predator. See id. § 6601(h)-(j); id. § 6601.5; id. § 6603.

         Williams was convicted of three counts of rape in 1991. As he neared the completion of his sentence, Williams was evaluated and identified as a potential sexually violent predator. In December 2000, the San Francisco District Attorney's office initiated a probable cause hearing to establish that Williams was a sexually violent predator. At the December 21, 2000 hearing, the judge found probable cause to believe Williams was a sexually violent predator. Since this initial determination, Williams has raised challenges to his continued confinement, including seeking to set aside the probable cause determinations and filing successive habeas petitions in California state court. Though temporarily successful in setting aside initial probable cause determinations, subsequent evaluations and probable cause ...


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