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Gardner v. Reynolds

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

August 1, 2019

KIER KEAND'E GARDNER Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID L. REYNOLDS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND DISMISSING CASE

          RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on the Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) of the Honorable Brian A. Tsuchida, United States Magistrate Judge. Dkt. #6. The R&R recommends dismissal of Plaintiff Kier Keand'e Gardner's complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) for failure to state a claim.[1] After considering Plaintiff's Complaint, Dkt. #1, Objections, Dkt. #7, and the remaining record, the Court agrees with Judge Tsuchida that Plaintiff's claims should be dismissed with prejudice.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff's claims arise from Defendants' alleged fai l ure to file and process his name change application and to rectify this failure thereafter. Defendant contends that Mr. Reynolds, Judge Hedine, Whatcom County Clerk's Office, and Whatcom Superior Court failed to file his name-change documents in violation of his right of access to the courts, access to the government for redress of grievances, and equal rights under the law. Dkt. #4 at 16-18. He likewise contends that Whatcom County Council and Whatcom County Superior Court failed to take “corrective action” to address this failure in retaliation for his having commenced an unrelated action against Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis. Id. at 20-21.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         A district court has jurisdiction to review a Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation on dispositive matters. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). “The district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to.” Id. “A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The Court reviews de novo those portions of the report and recommendation to which specific written objection is made. United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc).

         B. Judicial and Quasi-Judicial Immunity

         The R&R correctly determined that Plaintiff's Section 1983 claims against Judge Hedine and Mr. Reynolds for actions taken in their capacities as judge and county clerk are barred by judicial and quasi-judicial immunity. Dkt. #6 at 5-6. Plaintiff objects to the R&R on the grounds that Judge Tsuchida erroneously applied federal case law involving federal officers to Plaintiff's complaint, which alleges violations by county officials. Dkt. #7 at 2-4. Because the doctrine of judicial and quasi-judicial immunity plainly applies to judicial officers as the county level, the Court finds no error in the R&R's application of the law. See Sutton v. LLewellyn, 288 Fed.Appx. 411, 412 (9th Cir. 2008) (County Clerk of Monterey County Superior Court had absolute quasi-judicial immunity from damages for civil rights violations); Foti v. Cty. of San Mateo, 90 Fed.Appx. 488, 491 (9th Cir. 2003) (Judicial immunity barred Section 1983 claims against county superior court judge).

         C. Failure to State a Claim

         Likewise, the Court agrees that the facts alleged by Plaintiff do not give rise to a constitutional violation under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, and no additional facts could cure this defect. Id. at 7-12. The Court addresses Plaintiff's objections, in turn, below.

         1. Right of Access to the Courts

         The R&R concludes that Plaintiff is not entitled to a right of access to the courts with respect to this civil action. Dkt. #6 at 8 (“[A] prisoner has no constitutional right of access to the courts to litigate an unrelated civil claim.”) (citing Simmons v. Sacramento Cty. Superior Court, 318 F.3d 1156, 1160 (9th Cir. 2003)). Plaintiff objects that he should be allowed to amend his complaint to demonstrate to the court the connection between this civil action and his criminal case. Dkt. #7 at 5. However, the injury alleged by Plaintiff-here, Defendants' alleged failure to process his name-change documents and to rectify this failure-cannot satisfy the injury requirement to claim violation of his right of access to the courts. An injury that invokes an inmate's constitutional right of access to the courts must affect his ability to attack his sentence, directly or collaterally, or to challenge the conditions of his confinement. Simmons, 318 F.3d at 1160. This civil case does not fall into either category. Plaintiff contends that this name change dispute has affected his ability to file pleadings related to his criminal action because it has prevented him from listing a particular name on pleadings. See Dkt. #4, ¶67 (discussing Plaintiff's inability “to get any motions, including criminal motions, in the trial court for well over 30 months now . . . or be a part in any judicial proceeding of a civil nature as KEANDE or in Plaintiff's Given Names: KIER KEAND'E”). Plaintiff's constitutional right of access to the courts ...


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