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Searcy v. Walden

United States District Court, D. Idaho

January 7, 2019

BARRY SEARCY, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTT WALDEN, Idaho Correctional Industries Production Manager; JENNIFER PANTNER, ISCI Correctional Officer; DOES 1 THROUGH 10, fictitiously named persons, in their individual and official capacities; and IDAHO CORRECTIONAL INDUSTRIES, in its official capacity as an entity of the State of Idaho, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. Lynn Winmill, U.S. District Court Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court are the following motions: Plaintiff's Motion to Vacate Magistrate's Orders and Motion to Grant Leave to File Amended Complaint (Dkt. 57), Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Additional Motions (Dkt. 72), Plaintiff's Motion to Appoint Counsel (Dkt. 73), and Defendants' Motions to Strike (Dkts. 67, 68). For the reasons described below, the Court will grant Plaintiff's Motion to Grant Leave to File Amended Complaint, will grant in part and deny in part Plaintiff's Motion to Vacate Magistrate's Orders, will deny Plaintiff's Motion to Appoint Counsel, and will deny as moot Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Additional Motions and Defendants' Motions to Strike.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Barry Searcy is a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action. On November 12, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Complaint alleging that Defendants Scott Walden, Jennifer Pantner, Idaho Correctional Industries, and several un-named persons, Does 1-10, had violated various Idaho state laws, and violated his rights under the First Amendment. Dkt. 3 at 15-23.

         When Plaintiff filed this action, it was initially assigned to the Honorable Candy W. Dale, United States Magistrate Judge in accordance with this Court's then-applicable case assignment procedures. Judge Dale screened the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A and issued an Initial Review Order (“IRO”) on March 15, 2016. Dkt. 8. Judge Dale's IRO allowed Plaintiff to proceed on the First Amendment retaliation claim against Defendants Pantner and Walden, but dismissed Plaintiff's three state-law claims, and dismissed Defendant Idaho Correctional Industries as a defendant. Dkt. 8, 8-10. Judge Dale also issued a Scheduling Order on June 8, 2016, which set deadlines for discovery, amendment of pleadings, joinder of parties, and dispositive motions. Dkt. 15.

         Plaintiff chose not to amend his complaint in the time allotted by the Scheduling Order, and the parties proceeded through discovery. Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on January 4, 2017, which was denied without prejudice on August 29, 2017, with supplemental briefing invited by the Court. Dkt. 42. Defendants filed their Second Motion for Summary Judgment on October 10, 2017, and this case was reassigned shortly thereafter to Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill.

         On April 26, 2018, nearly two and a half years into the case, Plaintiff made the first request for leave to file an amended complaint. Dkt. 57. Plaintiff then filed several motions, including a declaration with new evidence on September 28, 2018. Dkts. 72-76. To resolve Plaintiff's flurry of motions and decide how to handle the newly-discovered evidence, the Court denied Defendants' Second Motion for Summary Judgment without prejudice. Dkt. 77. The Court invited the Parties to submit proposed case management plans, which the Court now considers in deciding the outstanding motions and altering the case schedule per the Order below.

         ANALYSIS

         1. Plaintiff's Motion to Vacate the Magistrate Judge's Orders

         By Motion, and again in his Brief Regarding a Case Management Plan, Plaintiff asks the Court to vacate Magistrate Judge Dale's prior orders in this case (i.e. the Initial Review Order and Scheduling Order). Defendants Pantner and Walden did not oppose Plaintiff's Motion to Vacate either in their initial Response to Plaintiff's Motion or in their Brief Regarding Case Management, instead “defer[ring] to the Court to take action as required by Williams.” Dkts. 58, 88. Because Plaintiff, the only party who had appeared in this action at the time Judge Dale issued the IRO, had consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction, the IRO-which allowed Plaintiff to proceed on his retaliation claims against Defendants Pantner and Walden, but not on any other claim- was appropriate under this Court's then-existing precedent. See Kelly v. Rolland, No. 1:16-CV-00149-CWD, 2016 WL 3349222, at *1 n.1 (D. Idaho June 14, 2016) (citing United States v. Real Property, 135 F.3d 1312, 1316 (9th Cir. 1998).

         During the pendency of this case, however, the Ninth Circuit decided Williams v. King, which held that magistrate judges lack the authority to dispose of claims if an unserved party does not consent to magistrate judge jurisdiction. 875 F.3d 500, 503 (9th Cir. 2017). As Plaintiff points out, no Defendant had consented to Magistrate Judge Dale's jurisdiction prior to the issuance of the IRO, and one Defendant - ICI - never gave its consent. Dkt 57-5 at 3-4. Pursuant to the rule in Williams, therefore, and without objection from Defendants, the Court will vacate the IRO (Dkt. 8) because not all parties to the case had consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction.

         The Court will not, however, vacate Magistrate Judge Dale's other orders in this case. Dkts. 15, 37. While the Ninth Circuit in Williams held that a magistrate judge cannot dispose of claims without consent of all parties, it did not divest the magistrate judges of their important ability to handle discovery and set deadlines for the Court. See Williams 875 F.3d at 503; see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) (“Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary…a judge may designate a magistrate judge to hear and determine any pretrial matter pending before the court….”). Magistrate Judge Dale's Scheduling Order disposed of just such pretrial matters, and the Court will not disturb them, or extend the holding of Williams into new ground to do so.

         2. Plaintiff's Motion to Grant Leave to File ...


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