United States District Court, D. Nevada
RAUL M. RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff,
NEVADA BOARD OF PAROLE, et al., Defendants.
M. NAVARRO, CHIEF JUDGE
who is a prisoner in the custody of the Nevada Department of
Corrections (“NDOC”), has
submitted a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and has filed an application to proceed in
forma pauperis. (ECF No. 1, 1-1). The Court now screens
Plaintiff's civil rights complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
courts must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in
which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or
officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must
identify any cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that
are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2). Pro se pleadings,
however, must be liberally construed. Balistreri v.
Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir.
1990). To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) the
violation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of
the United States, and (2) that the alleged violation was
committed by a person acting under color of state law.
See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).
addition to the screening requirements under § 1915A,
pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), a
federal court must dismiss a prisoner's claim if
“the allegation of poverty is untrue” or if the
action “is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a
claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary
relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Dismissal of a
complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted is provided for in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6), and the court applies the same standard under
§ 1915 when reviewing the adequacy of a complaint or an
amended complaint. 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).
under Rule 12(b)(6) is essentially a ruling on a question of
law. See Chappel v. Lab. Corp. of America, 232 F.3d
719, 723 (9th Cir. 2000). Dismissal for failure to state a
claim is proper only if it is clear that the plaintiff cannot
prove any set of facts in support of the claim that would
entitle him or her to relief. See Morley v. Walker,
175 F.3d 756, 759 (9th Cir. 1999). In making this
determination, the court takes as true all allegations of
material fact stated in the complaint, and the court
construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
See Warshaw v. Xoma Corp., 74 F.3d 955, 957 (9th
Cir. 1996). Allegations of a pro se complainant are
held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings
drafted by lawyers. See Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5,
9 (1980). While the standard under Rule 12(b)(6) does not
require detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff must
provide more than mere labels and conclusions. Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action is
a reviewing court should “begin by identifying
pleadings [allegations] that, because they are no more than
mere conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679
(2009). “While legal conclusions can provide the
framework of a complaint, they must be supported with factual
allegations.” Id. “When there are
well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their
veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise
to an entitlement to relief.” Id.
“Determining whether a complaint states a plausible
claim for relief . . . [is] a context-specific task that
requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.” Id.
all or part of a complaint filed by a prisoner may therefore
be dismissed sua sponte if the prisoner's claims
lack an arguable basis either in law or in fact. This
includes claims based on legal conclusions that are untenable
(e.g., claims against defendants who are immune from suit or
claims of infringement of a legal interest which clearly does
not exist), as well as claims based on fanciful factual
allegations (e.g., fantastic or delusional scenarios).
See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28
(1989); see also McKeever v. Block, 932 F.2d 795,
798 (9th Cir. 1991).
SCREENING OF COMPLAINT
complaint, Plaintiff sues multiple defendants for events that
took place while he was incarcerated by the NDOC. (ECF No.
1-1 at 1). He sues the Nevada Board of Parole (“the
Board”), the State of Nevada, Tony Corda, Susan
Jackson, Adam Endel, Michael Keeler, Connie Bisbee, Ed Gray,
and Maurice Silva. (Id. at 1-4). Plaintiff alleges
two counts and seeks monetary damages, immediate release on
parole, an order that the Nevada Legislature change Nevada
laws to parole inmates at the bottom of their sentencing
ranges, and a declaration that Nevada's parole laws are
unconstitutional. (Id. at 6, 10).
alleges the following: The Board of Parole's reliance on
immutable characteristics, such as the seriousness of the
offense, to deny parole violates due process. (ECF No. 1-1 at
5). The Board failed to follow its own internal guidelines
when assessing applicable aggravating and mitigating factors.
(Id. at 6.) The Board relied on three reasons
relating to Plaintiff's history of obstructing police
officers to apply mitigating factors. (Id.) Because
these offenses were misdemeanor offenses, not felonies, the
reasons for denial of parole are “fabricated.”
(Id.) In addition, the internal guidelines state
that, if a person is now serving a sentence of life for
murder or sexual assault, the aggravating factor should not
apply as the person already has committed the most serious
crime. (Id.) Based on this language, the aggravating
factor should not have been applied to him. (Id.)
This is an arbitrary and capricious exercise of discretion,
which is contrary to the evidence and rules of law.
(Id.) Plaintiff alleges that this violates the
Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause. (Id.)
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), the Supreme
Court held that “in order to recover damages for [an]
allegedly unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, or for
other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render
a conviction or sentence invalid, 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.”
Id. at 486-87. “A claim for damages bearing
that relationship to a conviction or sentence that has not
been . . . invalidated is not cognizable under §
1983.” Id. at 487. “Thus, when a state
prisoner seeks damages in a § 1983 suit, the district
court must consider whether a judgment in favor of the
plaintiff would necessarily imply the invalidity of his
conviction or sentence; if it would, the complaint must be
dismissed unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the
conviction or sentence has already been invalidated.”
Id. As a result, the Supreme Court has held that
“a state prisoner's § 1983 action is barred
(absent prior invalidation)-no matter the ...