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Holguin v. Cascade County

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

February 27, 2018

ROBERT MATHEW HOLGUIN, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
CASCADE COUNTY, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          John Johnston United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Robert Holguin, a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis and without counsel, has filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 1) and a proposed Complaint alleging he has been confined in unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the Cascade County Detention Facility. (Doc. 2).

         Mr. Holguin's motion to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted and Defendants Cascade County; Cascade County Sheriff's Office/Cascade County Adult Detention Center; Sheriff Bob Edwards; Commander O'Fallen; Officers Bennett, Light, Vanzout, Tibbetts, Gameon, and Walters will be required to respond to Mr. Holguin's claims of overcrowding at the Cascade County Detention Center, excessive use of force, failure to properly decontaminate after use of pepper spray, interference with legal mail and denial of hygiene items as alleged in Counts I, II, IV, V of the Complaint.

         I. MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), Mr. Holguin must pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00. Mr. Holguin submitted an account statement showing an inability to pay that fee; therefore, the initial partial filing fee is waived, and he may proceed with the case. See Bruce v. Samuels, 136 S.Ct. 627, 629 (2016)(“the initial partial filing fee may not be exacted if the prisoner has no means to pay it, § 1915(b)(4)”).

         Mr. Holguin will be required to pay the filing fee in installments and make monthly payments of 20% of the preceding month's income credited to his prison trust account. The percentage is set by statute and cannot be altered. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). Mr. Holguin must make these monthly filing-fee payments simultaneously with the payments required in any other cases he has filed. Id. By separate order, the Court will direct the facility where Mr. Holguin is held to forward payments from Mr. Holguin's account to the Clerk of Court each time the account balance exceeds $10.00, until the filing fee is paid in full. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2).

         II. PARTIES

         Mr. Holguin names the following Defendants: Cascade County; Cascade County Sheriff's Office/Cascade County Adult Detention Center; Sheriff Bob Edwards; Commander O'Fallen; Officers Bennett, Light, Vanzout, Tibbetts, Gameon, and Walters; the Cascade County Attorney's Office, Cascade County Attorney Joshua A. Rocki, Cascade County Attorney Valerie Winfield, Cascade County Attorney Stephanie Fueller, the Great Falls Police Department, Great Falls Police Department Detective Kaylin Cunningham, and Great Falls Police Department Detective Noah Scott. (Complaint, Doc. 2 at 2-8.)

         III. ALLEGATIONS

         Mr. Holguin brings claims of: (1) overcrowding; (2) excessive force and failure to decontaminate after use of pepper spray; (3) denial of literature; (4) interference with legal mail; (5) denial of hygiene items, and (6) challenges to the basis for his incarceration. (Complaint, Doc. 2 at 10-15.)

         IV. SCREENING PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915, 1915A

         A. Standard

         Mr. Holguin is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis so the Court must review his Complaint under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915, 1915A. Sections 1915A(b) and 1915(e)(2)(B) require the Court to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis and/or by a prisoner against a governmental defendant before it is served if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. A complaint is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). “A case is malicious if it was filed with the intention or desire to harm another.” Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2005). A complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if a plaintiff fails to allege the “grounds” of his “entitlement to relief.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quotation omitted).

         Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a complaint “that states a claim for relief must contain . . . a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the [plaintiff] is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). That is, a complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotations omitted). A complaint's allegations must cross “the line from conceivable to plausible.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 680.

         There is a two-step procedure to determine whether a complaint's allegations cross that line. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556; Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662. First, the Court must identify “the allegations in the complaint that are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679, 680. Factual allegations are not entitled to the assumption of truth if they are “merely consistent with liability, ” or “amount to nothing more than a ‘formulaic recitation of the elements' of a constitutional” claim. Id. at 679, 681. A complaint stops short of the line between probability and the possibility of relief where the facts pled are merely consistent with a defendant's liability. Id. at 678.

         Second, the Court must determine whether the complaint states a “plausible” claim for relief. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. A claim is “plausible” if the factual allegations, which are accepted as true, “allow[ ] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 678. This inquiry is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. at 679 (citation omitted). If the factual allegations, which are accepted as true, “do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not “show[n]”-“that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

         “A document filed pro se is ‘to be liberally construed, ' and ‘a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'” Erickson v. Pardu, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); cf. Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 8(e) (“Pleadings must be construed so as to do justice”).

         B. Analysis

         1. Denial of Literature

         Prisoners do not have a constitutional right to rehabilitation, including rehabilitative programs and services. Marshall v. U.S., 414 U.S. 417, 421 (1974) (no fundamental right to rehabilitation from narcotics addiction), Rizzo v. Dawson, 778 F.2d 527, 530 (9th Cir.1985) (no constitutional right to rehabilitation in the context of a vocational instruction course). Nor does Mr. Holguin have a constitutional right any reading materials he wishes.

         Inmates have a “fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts.” Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 828 (1977). This includes “both a right to meaningful access to the courts and a broader right to petition the government for a redress ofhis grievances.” Silva v. Di Vittorio, 658 F.3d 1090, 1102 (9th Cir. 2011), invalidated on other grounds by Coleman v. Tollefson, U.S., 135 S.Ct. 1759 (2015). There are two types of access to the courts claims: “those involving prisoners' right to affirmative assistance and those involving prisoners' rights to litigate without active interference.” Silva, 658 F .3d at 1102.

         To show a violation of either type of right to access to the courts, an inmate must demonstrate he or she experienced an “actual injury, ” in that there was a specific instance in which he was denied access. Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 349-352 (1996). An inmate must show that alleged deficiencies in active assistance, or incidents of interference actually prevented the inmate from pursuing and filing a non-frivolous legal claim, or caused the dismissal of a viable action. Id. at 351. Also, the injury requirement is “not satisfied by just any type of frustrated legal claim.” Id. at 354-55. It only attaches if an inmate is denied access with regard to a direct appeal from their conviction, habeas petitions, or civil rights actions challenging the conditions of their confinement. Id.

         Here, Mr. Holguin has not sufficiently alleged that he suffered any actual injury. He does not identify any actual adverse consequences caused by the alleged inadequacies of legal resources available to him at the Cascade County Detention Facility. No authority exists for the proposition that this right extends to require prisons to provide prisoners with educational books or other reading materials for the prisoners' entertainment.

         Mr. Holguin's allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and he has failed to state a claim for denial of access to the courts. To the extent Mr. Holguin can allege additional facts to attempt to cure these defects, he may file an amended complaint.

         2. Ongoing ...


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