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Edwards v. Mills

United States District Court, D. Idaho

April 10, 2017

JOHN EDWARDS, Plaintiff,


          Honorable Candy W. Dale United States Magistrate Judge


         The Clerk of Court conditionally filed pro se Plaintiff John Edwards' complaint as a result of his in forma pauperis request. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Court may review Edwards' in forma pauperis complaint to determine whether it may be summarily dismissed. Edwards, the only party appearing in this action, consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge.[1] See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c); Fed.R.Civ.P. 73. The Court now reviews Edwards' complaint to determine whether it, or any of the claims therein, should be summarily dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Having reviewed the record, and otherwise being fully informed, the Court enters the following Order.


         John Edwards filed a pro se complaint requesting in forma pauperis status on March 21, 2017, against Defendants Joshua Mills and Vinton Howell. Edwards' complaint alleges Defendants “falsified and re-wrote the Idaho statute code § 18-7008(8) for their own personal notice of trespass, ” and restricted his liberty interests for one year without authority. Edwards alleges also that Defendants “replaced the above law with their own trespass notice, ” and “made up vicious offensive mean lies” to take away his liberty.

         The complaint indicates there was a case before Judge Nye, whom Edwards contends ruled in error against him. Edwards indicates he appealed the ruling to the Idaho Supreme Court, which affirmed Judge Nye's ruling.[2]

         Attached to the complaint is a letter to Edwards dated June 29, 2015, authored by Vinton Howell, the Caldwell City Recreation Superintendent. The letter states that, pursuant to Idaho Code § 18-7008(8), Edwards is notified that he is “trespassed from Rotary Ponds and Memorial Park in Caldwell, Idaho for a period of one (1) year following the date” of service of the notice. The reason for the notice was Edwards' interference “with the attempts of animal control to contain cats within Rotary Ponds.” The letter directed Edwards to contact Joshua Mills at the Caldwell City Attorney's Office if he had any questions. Howell and Mills are the defendants in this action.

         According to the facts set forth in the unpublished opinion of the Court of Appeals of the State of Idaho in Edwards v. Mills, Opinion No. 370, the Animal Control Department of the city of Caldwell had ongoing issues with Edwards due to his conduct in city parks. Edwards apparently interfered with animal control officers attempting to trap cats, and threatened park visitors by driving dangerously. The city of Caldwell recreation superintendent served a notice on Edwards, presumably the same notice dated June 29, 2015, and attached to Edwards' complaint here, notifying him he was no longer welcome in city parks.

         Edwards questioned the validity of the trespass notice, prompting the Caldwell city prosecutor, Joshua Mills, to write a letter of explanation. In response, Edwards filed a complaint against Mills. The district court explained to Edwards that, if he disregarded the notice, he would be charged with trespass. The district court then granted Mills' motion to dismiss the suit with prejudice. Edwards appealed, contending the district court erred in dismissing his complaint against Mills because Mills violated Edwards' due process rights. The court of appeals, in a detailed written opinion, affirmed the district court's order of dismissal. The court explained Edwards had not identified a constitutionally protected liberty or property interest necessary for a due process violation, and that the letter was lawfully issued. The court awarded costs and attorney fees to Mills on appeal.


         1. Standard of Review

         Once a complaint has been conditionally filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Court may conduct an initial review of the complaint. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). The Court must dismiss a complaint or any portion of it if it: (1) is frivolous or malicious; (2) fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; or (3) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i-iii).

         Because Edwards is proceeding pro se, the complaint must be liberally construed, and Edwards must be given the benefit of any doubt. See Resnick v. Hayes, 213 F.3d 443, 447 (9th Cir. 2000). Additionally, if the complaint can be saved by amendment, Edwards should be notified of the deficiencies and provided an opportunity to amend. See Jackson v. Carey, 353 F.3d 750, 758 (9th Cir. 2003). A dismissal without leave to amend is improper unless it is beyond doubt that the complaint “could not be saved by any amendment.” Harris v. Amgen, Inc., 573 F.3d 728, 737 (9th Cir. 2009).

         2. Rooker-Fe ...

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