United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
DAVID L. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
SNOHOMISH COUNTY CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.
ORDER DECLINING SERVICE AND GRANTING LEAVE TO
A. TSUCHIDA United States Magistrate Judge.
L. Williams, who is presently confined at the Snohomish
County Corrections (“SCC”), filed a civil rights
complaint against Snohomish County Corrections, Snohomish
County Superior Court, and the Snohomish County Public
Defenders Association. Dkt. 4. Mr. Williams alleges that he
is being deprived of nutritional meals containing sufficient
vitamins, access to the law library for court rules and
procedures, and legal mail envelopes and copies. He also
alleges, as to his ongoing criminal proceeding, that he was
denied a speedy trial, there was no probable cause to search
his residence, and his public defender has rendered
ineffective assistance. Id.
Court DECLINES to serve the complaint because, as discussed
in more detail below, the complaint contains numerous
deficiencies. However, the Court GRANTS Mr. Williams leave to
file an amended complaint by June 9, 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
Williams 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. See Howlett v.
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. Williams 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. Williams were granted leave to amend his complaint to
name a proper defendant as to his claims regarding his
underlying state criminal proceeding, he may not challenge
the propriety of those 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. Williams
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. Williams's claims relating
to his confinement at the SCC (lack of vitamins, access to
law library, mail envelopes and copies), he has failed to
plead sufficient facts from which the Court may determine
whether he has stated a viable § 1983 claim. Mr.
Williams 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 or persons who violated the right; (3)
exactly what that person(s) did or failed to do; (4) how the
action or inaction of that person(s) is connected to the
violation of plaintiff's constitutional rights; and (5)
what specific injury plaintiff suffered because of that
person(s)'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 ...