United States District Court, D. Oregon, Medford Division
D. CLARKE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Ernie Young seeks to proceed in forma pauperis
("IFP") in this action. For the reasons stated
below, Plaintiffs Amended Complaint (#5) is dismissed without
prejudice and with leave to refile a Second Amended Complaint
within thirty days of this ruling. Plaintiffs IFP application
(#2) is held in abeyance and will be considered when the
amended complaint is filed.
all parties instituting any civil action in United States
District Court must pay a statutory filing fee. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1914(a). However, the federal IFP statute, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(a)(1), provides indigent litigants an opportunity
for meaningful access to the federal courts despite their
inability to pay the costs and fees associated with that
access. To authorize a litigant to proceed IFP, a court must
make two determinations. First, a court must determine
whether the litigant is unable to pay the costs of commencing
the action. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). Second, it must
assess whether the action is frivolous, malicious, 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).
regard to the second of these determinations, district courts
have the power under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) to screen
complaints even before the service of the complaint on the
defendants, and must dismiss a complaint if it fails to state
a claim. Courts apply the same standard under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B) as when addressing a motion to dismiss
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Watison
v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012). To
survive a motion to dismiss under the federal pleading
standards, the complaint must include a short and plain
statement of the claim and "contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim for relief
that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged. The plausibility standard ... asks for more than a
sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully." Id. The Court is not required to
accept legal conclusions, unsupported by alleged facts, as
pleadings are held to less stringent standards than pleadings
by attorneys. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519,
520-521 (1972). That is, the court should construe pleadings
by pro se plaintiffs liberally and afford the plaintiffs the
benefits of any doubt. Karim-Panahi v. Los
Angeles Police Dept, 839 F.2d 621, 623 (9th Cir.
1988) (citation omitted). 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.
October 16, 2017, Plaintiff Ernie Young filed a Complaint
against six defendants, including a Jackson County Circuit
Court judge, Hon. Ronald Grensky, a Jackson County Deputy
District Attorney, Ben Lull, and three law enforcement
officers from the Eagle Point Police Department, and one
caseworker from Child Protective Services. There are plenty
of factual allegations contained in the complaint, and all of
them appear to arise out of a series of events and incidents
involving domestic disputes with Plaintiffs ex-girlfriend or
ex-wife ("Ex"), their children, and various law
enforcement and court personnel. Many of Plaintiff s
allegations involve violence or other actions taken by
Plaintiffs "Ex" against him. Plaintiffs
"Ex" is not a party to the case, however, and even
if she were a party, it is unclear whether Plaintiff makes
any cognizable legal claim against her. Many of the
allegations Plaintiff asserts against law enforcement
personnel seem to stem from Plaintiffs Ex - either her
actions or her statements, which Plaintiff claims are false.
For the reasons below, Plaintiffs case is dismissed without
prejudice. Plaintiff may file a second amended complaint that
complies with the federal pleading requirements, as long as
that amended complaint cures the deficiencies identified
below. Failure to do so could result in the dismissal of the
case with prejudice.
Judge Grensky is entitled to absolute judicial
and those performing judge-like functions are absolutely free
from liability for damages for acts performed in their
official capacities. Ashelman v. Pope, 793 F.2d
1072, 1075 (9th Cir. 1986) (en banc). Judicial immunity from
claims for damages generally can be overcome only in two sets
of circumstances. First, a judge is not immune from liability
for non-judicial actions, i.e., actions not taken in the
judge's judicial capacity. See Hyland v. Wonder,
117 F.3d 405, 413 n. 1 (9th Cir.1997) (holding that judge may
lose protection of judicial immunity when performing
administrative act). Second, a judge is not immune for
actions, though judicial in nature, taken in the complete
absence of all jurisdiction. Mireles v. Waco, 502
U.S. 9, 11 (1991). As long as the judge has jurisdiction to
perform the "general act" in question, he or she is
immune however erroneous the act may have been, however
injurious the consequences of the act may have been, and
irrespective of the judge's claimed motivation.
Harvey v. Waldron, 210 F.3d 1008, 1012 (9th
Cir.2000) (citing Cleavinger v. Saxner, 474 U.S.
193, 199-200 (1985)).
case, Plaintiff does not allege that Judge Grensky took any
actions outside of his judicial capacity. Indeed his main
complaints against the judge include decisions made regarding
a "fabricated restraining order" and other
decisions regarding Plaintiffs disputes with his Ex,
including child custody, conflicting testimony, and a denial
of his own restraining order. None of these allegations meet
the requirements to allow Plaintiff to bring a claim for
damages against a judge. Therefore the claims against this
defendant are dismissed.
DDA Ben Lull is entitled to absolute prosecutorial
prosecutor is absolutely immune when acting as an advocate
for the state by engaging in conduct that is "intimately
associated with the judicial phase of the criminal
process." Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409,
430-31 (1976); see also Van de Kamp v. Goldstein,
555 U.S. 335 (2009). This means that "acts undertaken by
a prosecutor in preparing for the initiation of judicial
proceedings or for trial, and which occur in the course of
his role as an advocate for the State, are entitled to the
protection of absolute immunity." Buckley v.
Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 273(1993).
are not absolutely immune from liability for administrative
actions or investigative functions not closely related to
either trial preparation or the trial process. See, e.g.,
Hart v. Hodges,587 F.3d 1288 (11th Cir. 2009) cert,
denied 130 S.Ct. 3389 (2010). Investigative functions include
authorizing a warrantless wiretap in the interest of national
security, Mitchell v. Forsyth, Ml U.S. 511, 520
(1985), and giving legal advice to police officers. Burns
v. Reed,500 U.S. 478, 496 (1991). In such a capacity, a
prosecutor would only be entitled to qualified immunity. By
contrast, prosecutors have been held absolutely immune to
carry out such advocacy actions as: deciding whether to
prosecute; engaging in pretrial litigation activities
concerning applications for arrest and search warrants, bail
applications, and suppression motions, Simon v. City of
N.Y.,727 F.3d 167, 171-74 (2d Cir. 2013); preparing for
trial, including interviewing witnesses and evaluating
evidence, Giraldo v. Kessler,694 F.3d 161, 167 (2d
Cir. 2012); failing to turn over exculpatory material to
defense, Warney v. Monroe Cnty.,587 F.3d 113,
120-26 (2d Cir. 2009), cert, denied,131 S.Ct. 82
(2010); plea bargaining; entering into release-dismissal
agreement, Cady ...