United States District Court, D. Oregon, Medford Division
D. CLARKE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Nancy Hutchison seeks to proceed in forma pauperis
("IFP") in this action. She has also filed a motion
for pro bono counsel (#3). For the reasons stated below,
Plaintiffs Complaint (#1) is dismissed without prejudice and
with leave to refile an Amended Complaint within thirty days
of this ruling. Plaintiffs motion for pro bono counsel (#3)
is denied. Plaintiffs IFP application (#2) is held in
abeyance and will be considered when the amended complaint is
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 10, 2017, Plaintiff Nancy Hutchison filed a Complaint
against ten defendants, including the State of Oregon, Curry
County, a judge with the Oregon Circuit Court for Curry
County, Hon. Cynthia Beaman, the Curry County Consortium of
public defenders, and various others including Curry County
Circuit Court personnel. There are plenty of factual
allegations contained in the complaint; all of them appear to
arise out of a series of events and incidents involving a
noise complaint against Plaintiff that resulted in charges
for disorderly conduct.
Plaintiff claims that the proceedings in state court
regarding the charges against her violated her due process
rights, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the
Rehabilitation Act, and other constitutional rights under the
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. The
proceedings arose out of a citation for disorderly conduct
issued by a Curry County Sheriffs Deputy. Plaintiff asserts
that the citation misstated her name as "Nancy Lazaryan
Hutchison, " and that the citation was improperly given
to her because the equipment that created the complained-of
noise did not belong to her, but to her employer, Life Ray.
However, Plaintiff claims that she was not given the proper
opportunity to present her defense to the charges because her
attorney failed to adequately represent her, and the Court
failed to adequately accommodate her respiratory disability.
Plaintiff also asserts allegations regarding Judge
Beaman's withdrawal and reissuance of a warrant altering
the name of the defendant to Plaintiffs correct name and
birthdate, which were misstated on a previous version of the
warrant. She also claims that the warrant was improperly
issued in the first place for failure to appear because she
in fact did appear by telephone. Thus she claims she
"stands in immediate peril of arrest for failing to
appear." She claims that "a situation of extreme
emergency is presented warranting the issuance of immediate
injunctive relief." She has not, however, filed a motion
for a preliminary injunction.
alleged facts and corresponding legal claims in this case are
confusing and intertwined in a complicated fashion. It is
clear to the Court, however, that most of them are not
properly brought in federal court at this time. While the
Court must leniently construe pro se pleadings, Plaintiff
must still meet the federal pleading standards and cannot
bring claims that are frivolous or facially barred. In order
to properly inform Plaintiff of the deficiencies of her
complaint, such that she may attempt to re-plead any claims
that are not barred, the Court will address the claims as
specifically as possible below.
Judge Beaman 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 Beaman took any
actions outside of her judicial capacity. Indeed her
allegations against the judge include decisions made
regarding the charges, a bench warrant for failure to appear,
and scheduling decisions for courtroom proceedings. 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.
Claims against all defendants arising out of substantive
state courtproceedings are barred by the