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Carson v. Hennessey

*fn* submitted: May 25, 1993.

ARTHUR W. CARSON, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MICHAEL HENNESSEY, SHERIFF, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. D.C. No. CV-89-00162-DLJ. D. Lowell Jensen, District Judge, Presiding

Before: Hug, Wiggins, and Thompson, Circuit Judges.

MEMORANDUM

Arthur W. Carson, a Texas state prisoner, appeals pro se the district Court's judgment in favor of defendants San Francisco County Jail officials in Carson's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights action. Carson contends the district court erred by (1) dismissing his claim that he was deprived of property without due process, (2) dismissing his claim that he was placed in administrative segregation in retaliation for filing grievances, and (3) granting summary judgment on his law library access claim. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We review de novo the district court's dismissal for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6)*fn1 and the district court's summary judgment. Kruso v. International Tel. & Tel. Corp., 872 F.2d 1416, 1421 (9th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 496 U.S. 937 (1990). We affirm in part, vacate in part and remand.

I. Deprivation of Property

Carson contends that the district court erred by dismissing his deprivation of property claim. This contention lacks merit.

The random and intentional deprivation of property does not constitute a denial of constitutional due process if state law provides an adequate post-deprivation remedy. See Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 533 (1984); Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 544 (1981), overruled on other grounds, Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986). Here, Carson alleged that upon his arrest, an unknown officer of the San Francisco Police Department intentionally and wrongfully seized his personal property, specifically two rings, a knife, and Carson's California identification card, thereby violating Carson's right to due process. California law provides an adequate post-deprivation remedy for the alleged seizure of Carson's property. See Cal. Gov't. Code §§ 820, 900 et seq. Further, Carson failed to allege facts showing the seizure was anything more than a random incident. See Hudson, 468 U.S. at 533. Thus, the district court properly dismissed Carson's deprivation of property claim because it failed to state a cognizable action under section 1983. See Karim-Panahi v. Los Angeles Police Dep't, 839 F.2d 621, 624 (9th Cir. 1988).

II. Retaliation

Carson contends that the district court erred by dismissing his claim that he was transferred to maximum security in retaliation for filing grievances. This contention has merit.

The Constitution protects one's right to petition the government for redress of grievances. Soranno's Gasco, Inc. v. Morgan, 874 F.2d 1310, 1314 (9th Cir. 1989). "Deliberate retaliation" by prison officials against an individual for exercising this right is actionable under section 1983. Id.

Retaliation by prison officials may chill an inmate's exercise of his first amendment right to petition for redress of grievances and such conduct is actionable even if it does not otherwise rise to the level of a constitutional violation. See Thomas v. Carpenter, 881 F.2d 828, 829-30 (9th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 494 U.S. 1028 (1990) and 497 U.S. 1003 (1990). Conduct used to discourage the exercise of first amendment rights "'need not be particularly great in order to find that rights have been violated.'" Id. at 830 (quoting Elrod v. Burns, 427 U.S. 347, 359 n.13 (1976)).

Here, Carson alleged that he was transferred to maximum security, without any hearing or notice of disciplinary sanctions, in retaliation for filing grievances. Carson further alleged that upon transfer he was confined with mental patients and deprived of adequate exercise, access to the telephone, participation in Muslim services, and association with other prisoners. The district court dismissed this claim on the grounds that Carson's transfer to administrative segregation did not violate due process and the conditions in administrative segregation did not constitute a denial or basic necessities. The district court, however, failed to address Carson's claim that he was transferred to administrative segregation in retaliation for exercising his constitutional right to file grievances. Taking Carson's allegations of retaliation as true, Carson has stated sufficient facts to support a cognizable section 1983 claim. See Thomas, 881 F.2d at 830. Thus, the district court erred by dismissing Carson's retaliation claim. See Karim-Panahi, 839 F.2d at 624.

III. Law Library Access

Carson contends that the district court erred by granting summary judgment for defendants on Carson's claim that he was denied adequate law library access. This contention lacks merit.

It is well established that prisoners have a constitutional right of meaningful access to the courts through adequate law libraries or assistance from persons trained in law. Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 828 (1977). Nevertheless, the constitution does not guarantee a prisoner unlimited access to a law library. Lindquist v. Idaho State Bd. of Corrections, 776 F.2d 851, 858 (9th Cir. 1985). Prisons must only provide access to a library that meets minimum constitutional standards. Sands v. Lewis, 886 F.2d 1166, 1169 (9th Cir. 1989). Prison officials may regulate law library access, taking into account the security risk posed by individual prisoners. Toussaint v. McCarthy, 801 F.2d 1080, 1109-10 ...


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