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Longee v. Holloway

United States District Court, D. Idaho

December 9, 2019

NICHOLAS J. LONGEE, Plaintiff,
v.
ROY C. HOLLOWAY; STANLEY HOLLOWAY; PETER HATCH; CALVIN H. CAMPBELL; and TWIN FALLS COUNTY, Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER BY SCREENING JUDGE

          B. LYNN WINMILL U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         The Clerk of Court conditionally filed Plaintiff Nicholas J. Longee's Complaint as a result of Plaintiff's status as an inmate and in forma pauperis request. The Court now reviews the Complaint to determine whether it should be summarily dismissed in whole or in part under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A. Having reviewed the record, and otherwise being fully informed, the Court enters the following Order directing Plaintiff to file an amended complaint if Plaintiff intends to proceed.

         1. Screening Requirement

         The Court must review complaints filed by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity, as well as complaints filed in forma pauperis, to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate. The Court must dismiss a complaint or any portion thereof that states a frivolous or malicious claim, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) & 1915A(b).

         2. Pleading Standard

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A complaint fails to state a claim for relief under Rule 8 if the factual assertions in the complaint, taken as true, are insufficient for the reviewing court plausibly “to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. In other words, although Rule 8 “does not require detailed factual allegations, ... it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). If the facts pleaded are “merely consistent with a defendant's liability, ” or if there is an “obvious alternative explanation” that would not result in liability, the complaint has not stated a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Id. at 678, 682 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         3. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff is a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction, currently incarcerated at the Idaho State Correctional Center. Plaintiff states that he was convicted of a criminal offense, but later received post-conviction relief with respect to that offense. Following that grant of relief, he was charged with additional crimes that apparently were related to the charge for which he was granted post-conviction relief. Compl., Dkt. 3, at 2-3. These new charges were eventually dismissed “through another petition for post-conviction relief.” Id. at 3.

         Plaintiff sues two Twin Falls County magistrate judges, two Twin Falls County prosecutors, and Twin Falls County itself, asserting claims of vindictive prosecution. Id. at 2-5.

         Plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts to proceed with the Complaint. The Court will, however, grant Plaintiff 28 days to amend the Complaint. Any amended complaint should take into consideration the following.

         4. Standards of Law Governing Plaintiff's Claims

         Plaintiff brings his claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the civil rights statute. To state a plausible civil rights claim, a plaintiff must allege a violation of rights protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute proximately caused by conduct of a person acting under color of state law. Crumpton v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991). To be liable under § 1983, “the defendant must possess a purposeful, a knowing, or possibly a reckless state of mind.” Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466, 2472 (2015). Negligence is not actionable under § 1983, because a negligent act by a public official is not an abuse of governmental power but merely a “failure to measure up to the conduct of a reasonable person.” Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 332 (1986).

         To bring a § 1983 claim against a municipality-a local governmental entity such as Twin Falls County-a plaintiff must allege that the execution of an official policy or unofficial custom inflicted the injury of which the plaintiff complains, as required by Monell v. Department of Social Services of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978). Under Monell, the requisite elements of a § 1983 claim against a municipality are the following: (1) the plaintiff was deprived of a constitutional right; (2) the municipality had a policy or custom; (3) the policy or custom amounted to deliberate indifference to plaintiff's constitutional right; and (4) the policy or custom was the moving force behind the constitutional violation. Mabe v. San Bernardino Cnty., 237 F.3d 1101, 1110-11 (9th Cir. 2001). Further, a municipality “may be held liable under § 1983 when the individual who committed the constitutional tort was an official with final policy-making authority or such an official ratified a subordinate's unconstitutional decision or action and the basis for it.” Clouthier v. County of Contra Costa, 591 F.3d 1232, 1250 (9th Cir. 2010), overruled in part on other grounds by Castro v. Cty. of Los Angeles, 833 F.3d 1060, 1069 (9th Cir. 2016) (en banc).

         An unwritten policy or custom must be so “persistent and widespread” that it constitutes a “permanent and well settled” practice. Monell, 436 U.S. at 691 (quoting Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 167-168 (1970)). ‚ÄúLiability for improper custom may not be predicated on isolated or sporadic incidents; it must be founded upon practices of sufficient duration, frequency and consistency that the ...


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