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Johnson v. Elton

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 20, 2013



JANICE M. STEWART, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Michelle Aryellah Johnson ("Johnson"), appearing pro se, has filed a Complaint against three defendants, Travis Elton, Troy Becnel, and Josh Jones (docket #2) and has applied to proceed in forma pauperis (docket #1). Because Johnson indicates that she has no income or assets, his application to proceed in forma pauperis should be granted. However, for the reasons set forth below, her Complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim and with leave to file an amended complaint.


A complaint filed in forma pauperis may be dismissed at any time, including before service of process, if the court determines that:

(A) the allegation of poverty is untrue; or
(B) the action or appeal (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 USC § 1915(e)(2); see also Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 324 (1989); Jackson v. State of Ariz., 885 F.2d 639, 640 (9th Cir 1989).

A complaint is frivolous "where it lacks an arguable basis in law or in fact." Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 325; Lopez v. Dep't of Health Servs, 939 F.2d 881, 882 (9th Cir 1991); Jackson, 885 F.2d at 640. As the Ninth Circuit has instructed, courts must "construe pro se filings liberally." Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 341 (9th Cir 2010). Nonetheless, in order to state a claim for relief, a pleading must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief[.]" FRCP 8(a)(2). This standard "does not require detailed factual allegations, '" but does demand "more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009), citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Id., quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. "[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id., quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.


I. Failure to State A Claim

Although Johnson used the form Complaint provided by this court for pro se litigants, it is largely incomprehensible. As a basis for jurisdiction, Johnson checked the box on the form designating federal question jurisdiction and then lists the following statues as the basis for that jurisdiction: 42 USC § 1983, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 USC § 794, the Americans with Disability Act, 42 USC §§ 12101-12213 ("ADA"), and the Israeli Law of Return. The three claims alleged in the Complaint all arise from an apparent arrest on or about August 25, 2012, that prevented Johnson from traveling to Israel, and each claim attempts to address several different alleged legal theories.

As best as this court can piece together, Johnson seems to believe that, by conspiring against - and eventually arresting - Johnson, defendants violated various legal rights and guarantees. The Complaint seeks, in part, declaratory relief that the judgment and conviction in a criminal case was unconstitutional.[1] That criminal case, State of Oregon v. Johnson, Wasco County Circuit Court Case No. C-1200227, is currently on appeal with the Oregon Court of Appeals, Case No. A153245, and involves two assault convictions entered against the defendant, Howard Martin Johnson, Jr., on September 13, 2012. The State of Oregon's Offender Search database indicates that Howard Martin Johnson, who is currently on probation, uses a number of aliases, including the names "Michelle Johnson" and "John Mauritz Hummasti." In late 2006, John Mauritz Hummasti filed a case in this court, Hummasti v. Ali, et al., Civil No. 3:06-cv-01710-BR, against various defendants alleging various constitutional claims. In that case, Johnson (a.k.a. John Mauritz Hummasti, a.k.a. Howard M. Johnson, Jr.) filed a motion for a protective order "to allow Plaintiff's Safe Passage and Return' to and from the State of Israel, via the Consulate Generals' office in Los Angeles, CA" (Civil No. 3:06-cv-0170-BR, docket #166). That motion was denied on August 20, 2012 (docket #168).

In the present case, Johnson alleges that she[2] was arrested five days after that motion was denied, on August 25, 2012, which seems to be the culmination of the predicate acts which form the basis of her claims in this case. Specifically, Johnson alleges that, by conspiring against and arresting Johnson, defendants were violating Johnson's "right to be free from abuse, to exercise the right to return to the State of Israel [and] to enforce a contract of marriage" (Claim I); and were "interfering with or tampering with a witness... [and] unlawfully preventing [Johnson] from traveling in or through interstate commerce (Claim II), and violated Johnson's "right to obtain medical care in the state of Israel, to return to ...

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