United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
TED L. CRESS, Plaintiff,
SNOHOMISH COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT, et al., Defendants.
DECLINING SERVICE AND GRANTING LEAVE TO
A. TSUCHIDA United States Magistrate Judge.
Cress, who is presently confined at the Snohomish County
Corrections ("SCC"), filed a civil rights complaint
against the Snohomish County Superior Court, Snohomish County
Public Defender Association, Snohomish County Corrections,
and Niel Freedman of the Public Defender Association. Dkt.
4-1. Mr. Cress alleges that the court and public defenders
are failing to respond to his motion for new counsel and
provide him with discovery. Mr. Cress also alleges that
unidentified people at SCC took away his reading magnifier
(he claims to be blind), will not allow him to have a job at
the jail, refuse his request to move to a lower bunk on the
upper tier, and stealing his medication. Id.
Court DECLINES to serve the complaint
because, as discussed in more detail below, the complaint
contains numerous deficiencies. However, the Court
GRANTS Mr. Cress leave to file an amended
complaint by May 5, 2017.
Court declines to serve the complaint because it contains
fatal deficiencies that, if not addressed, might lead to a
recommendation of dismissal of the entire action for failure
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(b)(ii), 1915A(b)(1). In order to
sustain a civil rights action under § 1983, a plaintiff
must show (1) that he suffered a violation of rights
protected by the Constitution or created by federal statute,
and (2) that the violation was proximately caused by a person
acting under color of state or federal law. See Crumpton
v. Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991).
Government Entities and Public Defender as Parties
Cress has failed to name a proper defendant. A state public
defender performing traditional lawyer functions is not a
state actor. Polk County v. Dodson, 454 U.S. 312,
324-25, 102 S.Ct. 445, 70 L.Ed. 509 (1981); Miranda v.
Clark County, 319 F.3d 465, 468 (9th Cir.
2002). In addition, government entities such as the Snohomish
County Superior Court, Snohomish County Public Defender
Association, and Snohomish County Corrections are not proper
parties to a § 1983 complaint. SeeHowlettv.
Rose, 496 U.S. 356, 365 (1990). While Snohomish County
is a municipality that can be sued under § 1983,
Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Services,
436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978), Mr. Cress fails to allege how the
County's employees or agents acted through an official
custom, pattern or policy that permits deliberate
indifference to, or violates, his civil rights or that the
County ratified the unlawful conduct. Monell, 436
U.S. at 690-91.
Challenge to Ongoing State Criminal Action
Mr. Cress were granted leave to amend his complaint to name a
proper defendant as to his claim that he is being denied
appropriate representation in his state criminal action, he
may not challenge the propriety of ongoing state criminal
proceedings in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit. Federal
courts will not intervene in a pending criminal proceeding
absent extraordinary circumstances where the danger of
irreparable harm is both great and immediate. See Younger
v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 45, 46 (1971). The
Younger abstention doctrine requires that a district
court dismiss a federal action if state proceedings are (1)
ongoing, (2) implicate important state interests, and (3)
afford the plaintiff an adequate opportunity to raise the
federal issue. Columbia Basin Apartment Ass 'n v.
City of Pasco, 268 F.3d 791, 799 (9th Cir. 2001)
(citation omitted). All of the Younger criteria
appear to be satisfied here. The proceedings are ongoing,
involve a criminal prosecution that implicates important
state interests, and there is nothing to indicate that Mr.
Cress cannot raise in his criminal case the same claims he
raises here or that there is a danger of great and immediate
irreparable harm. Therefore, it appears that this action
would unduly interfere with the state criminal proceeding in
a way Younger disapproves.
Conditions of Confinement at SCC
regard to the remainder of Mr. Cress's claims (that he is
being denied use of a magnifier to read, his request for a
different bunk assignment has been denied, and his medication
have been taken away from him), he has failed to plead
sufficient facts from which the Court may determine whether
he has stated a viable § 1983 claim. Mr. Cress may file
an amended complaint to set out these allegations more fully.
In the amended complaint, plaintiff must write out short,
plain statements telling the Court: (1) the constitutional
right plaintiff believes was violated; (2) the name of the
person who violated the right; (3) exactly what that person
did or failed to do; (4) how the action or inaction of that
person is connected to the violation of plaintiff s
constitutional rights; and (5) what specific injury plaintiff
suffered because of that person's conduct. See Rizzo
v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371-72 (1976).
person named as a defendant was a supervisory official,
plaintiff must either state that the defendant personally
participated in the constitutional deprivation (and tell the
Court the five things listed above), or plaintiff must state,
if he can do so in good faith, that the defendant was aware
of the similar widespread abuses, but with deliberate
indifference to plaintiff's constitutional rights, failed
to take action to prevent further harm to plaintiff and also
state facts to support this claim. See Monell, 436
U.S. at 691.
must repeat this process for each person he names as a
defendant, including any "John Doe" and "Jane
Doe" defendants. If plaintiff fails to affirmatively
link the conduct of each named defendant with the specific
injury suffered by plaintiff, the claim against that
defendant will be dismissed for failure to state a claim.
Conclusory allegations that a defendant or a group of