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Shorb v. Josephine County Circuit Court

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Medford Division

October 12, 2017


          OPINION & ORDER


         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint. ECF No. 14. Plaintiff has not responded to the motion and the time for doing so has passed. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED and this case is DISMISSED with prejudice.


         The Amended Complaint, which is styled "Amended Bill in Equity in Exclusive Equity, " ECF No. 6, is disjointed and difficult to read. It is, for the most part, an incomprehensible gibberish of misapplied legal and quasi-legal terms. To the extent that the Amended Complaint can be understood, it appears to bring some sort of common law civil and/or equity action related to Plaintiff Charles Shorb's criminal conviction in Oregon state court.

         In 2008, Shorb was convicted of Rape in the First Degree and Sexual Abuse in the First Degree following a jury trial in Josephine County Circuit Court. Shorb is currently in the custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections and is proceeding pro se. Shorb brings this action against the Josephine County Circuit Court, two state court judges, and the Josephine County District Attorney, apparently for acts taken in the course of Shorb's criminal prosecution.

         Shorb has previously filed a petition for habeas corpus, which was denied in February 2017. Shorb v. Nooth, 2:14-cv-02005-SB, 2017 WL 465469 (D. Or. Feb. 2, 2017). That matter is currently on appeal in Shorb v. Nooth, Ninth Circuit Case No. 17-35102.


         Where a plaintiff "fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, " the court must dismiss the action. Fed, R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). In order to state a viable claim, a plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007); see also Ashcroft v. Iqbah 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). This means a complaint must contain "factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The complaint must contain "well-pleaded facts" which "permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct." Id. at 679.

         For purposes of a motion to dismiss, the complaint is liberally construed in favor of the plaintiff and its allegations taken as true. Rosen v. Walters, 719 F.2d 1422, 1424 (9th Cir. 1983). Bare assertions, however, that amount to nothing more than a "formulaic recitation of the elements" of a claim "are conclusory and not entitled to be assumed true." Iqball 556 U.S. at 681.

         Pro se pleadings are held to less stringent standards than pleadings by attorneys. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972). That is, the court should construe pleadings by pro se plaintiffs liberally and afford the plaintiffs the benefit of any doubt. Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dep't, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir. 1988). Additionally, a pro se litigant is entitled to notice of the deficiencies in the complaint and the opportunity to amend, unless the complaint's deficiencies cannot be cured by amendment. Id.


         Defendants move to dismiss this case with prejudice on the grounds that (1) this Court lacks jurisdiction over Shorb's claims; (2) Josephine County Circuit Court is entitled to sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment; (3) the individual Defendants are entitled to judicial or prosecutorial immunity for acts taken in the course of Shorb's criminal prosecution; (4) Shorb has failed to state a claim against Defendants; (5) Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity; and (6) Shorb has failed to properly serve Defendants.

         As a preliminary matter, Defendants have requested that the Court take judicial notice of the docket sheet for Shorb's underlying criminal conviction in Josephine County Circuit Court, State v. Shorb, Case No. 05CR0974, which is attached to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss as Exhibit 1. Although district courts may not consider any material beyond the pleadings in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, they may take judicial notice of documents referenced in the complaint, pleadings from other relevant proceedings, as well as matters in the public record, without converting a motion to dismiss into one for summary judgment. Intri-Plex Techs., Inc. v. Crest Grp., Inc., 499 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2007). The Ninth Circuit has "extended the doctrine of incorporation by reference to consider documents in situations where the complaint necessarily relies upon a document or the contents of the document are alleged in a complaint, the document's authenticity is not in question and there are no disputed issues as to the document's relevance." Coto Settlement v. Eisenberg, 593 F, 3d 1031, 1038 (9th Cir. 2010); see also Fed. R.Evid.201.

         In this case, the docket sheet for State v. Shorb is a matter of public record and it is necessarily relied upon by the Amended Complaint, Shorb has not objected to Defendants' request for judicial notice, or otherwise responded to Defendants' motion, and the time for doing so has now passed, The ...

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