United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO
ROSANNA MALOUF PETERSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
THE COURT is pro se Plaintiff Michael Hanson's
Motion to Reconsider, ECF No. 7. Mr. Hanson objects to this
Court's order dismissing his complaint under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915 for legal insufficiency. ECF No. 6. The Court has
reviewed Mr. Hanson's motion and is fully informed.
Hanson filed his complaint against Defendants on January 22,
2019, alleging that Defendants violated his First, Fifth, and
Fourteenth Amendment rights, as well as the Washington Public
Records Act, by denying his public records requests in 2018.
ECF No. 1. He also applied for in forma pauperis
status, which Magistrate Judge John T. Rodgers granted on
January 31, 2019. ECF Nos. 2, 4, 5. Once Mr. Hanson obtained
in forma pauperis status, the Court screened Mr.
Hanson's complaint for legal sufficiency pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) as the Court is required to do for
in forma pauperis complaints. ECF No. 6.
Court found Mr. Hanson's complaint legally insufficient
and dismissed the complaint without prejudice, which does not
prohibit Mr. Hanson from pursuing his claims by alleging
facts that state a claim on which relief can be granted and
which establish federal court jurisdiction, or alternatively
pursuing his claims in state court. ECF No. 6. The Court
found that Mr. Hanson's rights to receive information,
due process, and equal protection were not violated when his
public records requests were denied. Id. at 6-10.
With no remaining federal claims, the Court dismissed Mr.
Hanson's Washington Public Records Act claims for lack of
jurisdiction because a federal court does not have
jurisdiction to consider only state law claims. Id.
Hanson then filed the present Motion to Reconsider. ECF No.
7. He objects to the Court dismissing his claims sua
sponte. ECF No. 7 at 5. He argues that his First
Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment claims were wrongfully
dismissed. Id. at 2-5. He also claims that the Court
wrongfully dismissed his due process claim under the Fifth
Amendment because the Court decided it on the grounds of
procedural due process rather than substantive due process.
Id. He argues that “it is an unreasonable
exercise of discretion for this Court to dismiss claims
regarding the protections of the First Amendment.”
Id. at 5. Last, he objects to the Court's
determination that any appeal from the Court's dismissal
order would not be taken in good faith. Id. at 6.
motion for reconsideration under Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule
59(e) should not be granted, “absent
highly unusual circumstances, unless the district court is
presented with newly discovered evidence, committed clear
error, or . . . there is an intervening change in the
controlling law.” 389 Orange St. Partners v.
Arnold, 179 F.3d 656, 665 (9th Cir. 1999). A litigant
may not use a motion for reconsideration “to raise
arguments or present evidence for the first time when they
could reasonably have been raised earlier in the
litigation.” Kona Enters., Inc. v. Estate of
Bishop, 229 F.3d 877, 890 (9th Cir. 2000). In addition,
“[a] motion for reconsideration cannot be used to ask
the Court to rethink what the Court has already thought
through merely because a party disagrees with the Court's
decision.” Collegesource, Inc. v. Academyone,
Inc., No. 08CV1987-GPC(MDD), 2015 WL 8482753, at *1
(S.D. Cal. Dec. 8, 2015).
a motion for reconsideration is a matter of judicial
discretion and is considered to be an ‘extraordinary
remedy, to be used sparingly in the interests of finality and
conservation of judicial resources.'” United
States v. Bamdad, No. CR 08-506-GW, 2017 WL 4064210, at
*5 n.11 (C.D. Cal. May 3, 2017) (quoting Carroll v.
Nakatani, 342 F.3d 934, 945 (9th Cir. 2003)).
Hanson's first argument is that the Court wrongfully
dismissed his First and Fourteenth Amendment claims. ECF No.
7 at 2-5. Mr. Hanson claims that the Court misinterpreted his
complaint and the case law on the issues. Id. The
Court finds that it did not commit clear error in finding Mr.
Hanson's claims legally insufficient. There is no First
Amendment right to guaranteed access to public records that
are not judicial or court records. German v. Eudaly,
No. 3:17-CV-2028-MO, 2018 WL 3212020, at *7 (D. Or. June 29,
2018) (collecting cases). Further, Mr. Hanson failed to
allege that he was denied his public records requests because
of his belonging to a certain protected class. See Barren
v. Harrington, 152 F.3d 1193, 1194 (9th Cir. 1998)
(“To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for a
violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment a plaintiff must show that the defendants acted
with an intent or purpose to discriminate against the
plaintiff based upon membership in a protected
class.”). The Court rejects Mr. Hanson's first
argument for reconsideration.
Mr. Hanson argues that the Court erred by analyzing Mr.
Hanson's due process claim as a procedural due process
claim rather than a substantive due process claim. ECF No. 7
at 4. Mr. Hanson made no mention of substantive due process
in his complaint, and even a liberal construction of Mr.
Hanson's complaint does not show a substantive due
process claim against Defendants. ECF No. 1. Nevertheless, a
substantive due process claim is also legally insufficient in
this case. Substantive due process only protects liberty
interests that society traditionally has protected as
fundamental. Francheschi v. Yee, 887 F.3d 927, 937
(9th Cir. 2018). Interests considered fundamental have been
narrowly defined and limited, including only “marriage,
procreation, contraception, family relationships, child
rearing, education and a person's bodily integrity, which
are ‘deeply rooted in this Nation's history and
tradition.'” Id. (quoting Moore v.
East Cleveland, 431 U.S. 494, 503 (1977)). In the same
way that Mr. Hanson's complaint failed to allege the
deprivation of a protected property interest, it fails to
allege the deprivation of a fundamental liberty interest
sufficient to state a substantive due process claim. ECF No.
1. Therefore, the Court rejects Mr. Hanson's second
argument for reconsideration.
Hanson's third argument for reconsideration is that the
Court wrongly dismissed his complaint sua sponte as
a matter of discretion. ECF No. 7 at 5. Because Mr. Hanson is
proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis,
the Court was required to screen Mr. Hanson's complaint
for legal sufficiency before ordering service on Defendants.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (holding that, after a plaintiff
is granted in forma pauperis status, “the
court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court
determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . fails to
state a claim on which relief may be granted”);
Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1129 (9th Cir. 2000);
see also Blocker v. Universal Music Pub. Grp., No.
3:14-CV-01650-SB, 2015 WL 1526487, at *1 (D. Or. Apr. 3,
2015) (“A district court must perform a preliminary
screening of an in forma pauperis complaint and
dismiss any claims that fail to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, are frivolous or malicious, or seek
monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief.”). After finding Mr. Hanson's federal
claims legally insufficient, the Court then dismissed Mr.
Hanson's state law claims because the Court lacked
original jurisdiction over them. ECF No. 6 at 10; Un.
Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726 (1966)
(“Certainly, if the federal claims are dismissed before
trial, even though not insubstantial in a jurisdictional
sense, the state claims should be dismissed as well.”).
The Court was acting in accordance with the requirements of
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1331, 1332, 1367 and case
law when it dismissed Mr. Hanson's complaint without
prejudice. The Court rejects Mr. Hanson's third argument
Mr. Hanson argues that it was improper for this Court to
determine that any appeal from its legal sufficiency order
would not be made in good faith. ECF No. 7 at 6. Mr. Hanson
points to no clear error by the Court in making this finding.
When the district court makes decisions concerning in
forma pauperis cases, the district court must determine
whether the pro se plaintiff may appeal the order.
28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3). An appeal pro se and
in forma pauperis should not be permitted when the
appeal would be frivolous or futile. See Miranda v.
Brainin, Civil No. 10-1816 H(PCL), 2011 WL 866987, at *1
(S.D. Cal. Mar. 10, 2011). The appeal certification
proceeding is ...