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Kinlock v. Montana Board of Pardons and Parole

United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division

April 15, 2014



DONALD W. MOLLOY, District Judge.

I. Status

This matter comes before the Court on the proposed Findings and Recommendations entered by United States Magistrate Judge Keith Strong, (Doc. 3), regarding the civil rights Complaint brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by Plaintiff Clive Wellington Kinlock, (Doc. 1). Because Kinlock is a prisoner, upon filing, this matter was referred to Judge Strong. See L.R. 72.2(a). Judge Strong conducted the prescreening required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, and filed his proposed Findings and Recommendations regarding the Complaint on January 29, 2014. (Doc. 3 at 17.) Kinlock requested, (Doc. 4), and was granted, (Doc. 6), an extended period in which to file his Objections to Judge Strong's Findings and Recommendations. Kinlock timely filed his Objections on March 10, 2014. ( See Doc. 7.)

II. Standard of Review

The portions of Judge Strong's proposed Findings and Recommendations to which Kinlock objects are reviewed de novo, otherwise the report is reviewed for clear error. When a party objects, the Court reviews the relevant portions of the United States Magistrate Judge's proposed findings and recommendations de novo. 28 U.S.C. § 636. When no party objects, the Court reviews the findings and recommendations of a United States Magistrate Judge for clear error. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Commodore Bus. Mach., Inc., 656 F.2d 1309, 1313 (9th Cir. 1981). Clear error is present only if the Court is left with a "definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed." United States v. Syrax, 235 F.3d 422, 427 (9th Cir. 2000).

III. Factual Allegations

A recitation of the factual allegations raised by Kinlock is set forth in Judge Strong's proposed Findings and Recommendations and will not be restated here. ( See Doc. 3 at 9-10.) This portion of the Magistrate Judge's report is not directly contested by the arguments raised in Kinlock's Objections. It contains no mistake regarding the facts of this case and will be adopted in-full. The status of Kinlock's July 3, 2011 letter to the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole ("the Board"), ( see Doc. 1-3), is impliedly contested by Kinlock's argument regarding the merits of his Complaint, ( see Doc. 7 at 10 (arguing the "letter was liberally construed as a request for early review" and referring to the letter as a "request' for early review".)) Judge Strong treated the letter as the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole did: a request by Kinlock for early review of his parole eligibility. Upon consideration of the letter, the Court concludes that Judge Strong's view is accurate. Even construed in the light most favorable to Kinlock, the letter presents a request for early review. The letter closes with Kinlock's prayer that parole be granted. (Doc. 1-3 at 2.) It does not merely "request[] information on how to apply for an early review" as Kinlock encourages in his Objections. ( See Doc. 7 at 10.) Judge Strong did not misstate the facts of the case when he construed this letter as stated in the Findings and Recommendations. It was treated as a request for early review by the Board and, in substance, relates such a request.

IV. Analysis

Kinlock poses no objection to Judge Strong's finding that the Board, as a state agency, is immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution. ( See Doc. 3 at 10.) This finding is sound and will be adopted. "[F]ederal jurisdiction over suits against unconsenting States was not contemplated by the Constitution when establishing the judicial power of the United States.'" Seminole Tribe of Fla. v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 54 (1996) (quoting Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1, 15 (1890)). Kinlock's claims against the Board will be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

Even though Judge Strong's proposed Findings and Recommendations do not address Defendants Batista and Frink, claims against them are properly subject to dismissal. Batista and Frink are named as Defendants to this action in the caption of Kinlock's Complaint. (Doc. 1 at 1.) Kinlock's Complaint violates Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure as to Defendants Batista and Frink. Rule 8 sets forth the general rules of pleading and requires that a complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P.8(a)(2). The Supreme Court has explained that Rule 8 "requires a showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 n.3 (2007). The factual allegations necessary to make that showing "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. at 555. The Complaint must "contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). Kinlock makes no allegation whatsoever regarding any act or oversight by Batista and Frink that caused him harm redressible under the Constitution of the United States. Defendants Batista and Frink are therefore subject to dismissal. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

Kinlock objects to the Court's treatment of his claims against the Board members named in his Complaint. His objections fall into three categories: procedural bars, the substance of his claims, and the recommended Prison Litigation Reform Act strike. The Court reviews de novo each portion of the report to which Kinlock objects.

A. Procedural Bars

Judge Strong's proposed Findings and Recommendations applied three procedural bars to Kinlock's Complaint: quasi-judicial immunity, the statute of limitations, and the doctrine set forth in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). Each will be considered in turn.

Judge Strong's findings regarding the application of quasi-judicial immunity to the Board members named as Defendants in this action are without mistake or error and will be adopted in-full. Judge Strong found the Board members immune from suit in their individual capacity under the doctrine of quasi-judicial immunity. (Doc. 3 at 10.) This finding is sound because "parole board officials... are entitled to absolute quasi-judicial immunity for decisions to grant, deny, or revoke parole' because these tasks are functionally comparable' to tasks performed by judges." Swift v. California, 384 F.3d 1184, 1189 (9th Cir. 2004) (quoting Sellars v. Procunier, 641 F.2d 1295, 1303 (9th Cir. 1981)). Judge Strong elaborated, however, that Kinlock's is not barred from seeking prospective declaratory and injunctive relief as to the Board members in their official capacity, presumably based on the doctrine set forth by the ...

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