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Stull v. Maurry

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

January 14, 2014

BARRY JOE STULL, Plaintiff,
v.
JASON MAURRY, MULTNOMAH COUNTY, OREGON, MULTNOMAH COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY MICHAEL D. SCHRUNK, CITY OF PORTLAND, OREGON, STATE OF OREGON, TRI MET, Defendants.

Barry Joe Stull, Portland, OR, Pro Se Plaintiff.

OPINION AND ORDER

GARR M. KING, District Judge.

Plaintiff Barry Stull brings suit against police officer Jason Maurry, Multnomah County, Multnomah County District Attorney Michael D. Schrunk, the City of Portland, the State of Oregon, and TriMet arising from his arrest and subsequent conviction of Interfering with Public Transportation.

Pending before the Court is Stull's application to proceed in forma pauperis [2].

ALLEGATIONS

Stull broadly alleges violations of his civil rights (without specifying which constitutional provisions he invokes), retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), wrongful arrest, excessive use of force, and publication of "alias information Stull never used but which continues to be both published and required of Stull." Compl. at 5.

Stull alleges he suffers from a neurological problem and carries an Honored Citizen ID card issued by TriMet. He further alleges that, on December 15, 2011, he boarded the TriMet light rail train. Police officer Jason Maurry approached Stull from behind, touched him on the shoulder and asked him whether he was named Charlie. Stull responded, "No, I'm not. And that's offensive physical contact" and asked for Officer Maurry's State of Oregon Department of Safety Standards and Training number. Compl. ¶ 12. Officer Maurry ignored him, but remained nearby. When Stull rose to get off the train, Officer Maurry shoved Stull in the center of his chest using both hands. Stull asked what that was about, then produced his TriMet Honored Citizen ID, said he had a disability, and got off the train. Officer Maurry then shoved Stull from behind making him collide with a woman boarding the train. Stull pulled the emergency switch inside the train because he feared an escalation of his conflict with Officer Maurry. Officer Maurry arrested Stull, charging him with three counts: two counts of Interfering with Public Transportation (ORS 166.116) and one count of Offensive Physical Contact (Portland City Code 14A.40.020).

Stull was released from Multnomah County Detention Center a little over four hours later and he was arraigned the next day, on December 16. The District Attorney's Office chose to treat these charges as violations, rather than as crimes. Stull alleges that Multnomah County and the Multnomah County District Attorney made this choice so as to preclude his representation by a court-appointed attorney and avoid the higher beyond a reasonable doubt burden of proof. He contends the State of Oregon Judicial Department joined in violating his rights. Stull complains the District Attorney appeared at trial, when purportedly that is prohibited in a violation proceeding. As a result of the decision to charge him with violations, he also lost the ability to have representation on appeal.

The District Attorney dismissed the first count and, at a trial presided over by a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge, Stull was found not guilty of the third count but guilty of the second count. The judge imposed a monetary penalty of $180 for costs and fines. Stull appealed the decision, but could not afford a transcript and his appeal was dismissed.

Stull also alleges TriMet, Multnomah County, and the City of Portland are liable because they "continue to employ" Maurry and continue to pay him, "creat[ing] an ongoing hostile environment for Stull as a transit depent and [sic] person with a disability having to use TriMet, where Stull is encountered by Jason Maurry." Compl. ¶ 33.

Stull also complains that his arrest record includes arrests for which no charges issued and others for which he was found not guilty, and that Portland Police Officer Stegemeyer added a letter "y" to the end of his name so that Stull is now incorrectly identified as Barry Joe Stully.

LEGAL STANDARDS

Stull moves to proceed in forma pauperis. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the court must dismiss a case sua sponte if the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

Pro se complaints are construed liberally and may only be dismissed "for failure to state a claim if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'" Engebretson v. Mahoney , 724 F.3d 1034, 1037 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Silva v. Di Vittorio , 658 F.3d 1090, 1101 (9th Cir. 2011)). These protections are "particularly important in civil rights cases.'" Pouncil v. Tilton , 704 F.3d 568, 575 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Johnson v. State of California , 207 F.3d 650, 653 (9th Cir. 2000)). The court should allow a pro se plaintiff to amend the complaint ...


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