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Black v. Arpaio

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 2, 2014

Anthony J. Black, Plaintiff,
v.
Joseph M. Arpaio, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

STEPHEN M. McNAMEE, Senior District Judge.

Plaintiff Anthony J. Black, who is confined in the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail, filed a pro se Complaint in Maricopa County Superior Court, case number CV 2014-000510. (Doc. 1-1 at 5-7).

In his Complaint, Plaintiff asserts violations of his rights under the Fourth, Eighth, Ninth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Plaintiff names Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio and "Maricopa County Sheriff Department Facility Commanders" as Defendants.

Defendant Arpaio was served on March 7, 2014. On March 26, 2014, Defendant Arpaio removed the case to this Court based on federal question jurisdiction.

The Complaint facially supports that subject matter jurisdiction is proper in federal court and that the case was timely removed. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). The Court will dismiss the Complaint with leave to amend.

I. Removal to Federal Court was Proper

A defendant may remove any civil action brought in state court over which the federal court would have original jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. §1441(a). That is, a civil action that could have originally been brought in federal court may be removed from state to federal court. Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987). A federal court has original jurisdiction "of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

The Complaint in this case facially supports that subject matter jurisdiction exists in federal court because Plaintiff alleges violations of his federal constitutional rights. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Further, the case was timely removed. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b).

II. Statutory Screening of Prisoner Complaints

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or an employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if a plaintiff has raised claims that are legally frivolous or malicious, that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2).

A pleading must contain a "short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). While Rule 8 does not demand detailed factual allegations, "it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. (citation omitted).

"[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (citation omitted). A claim is plausible "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citation omitted). "Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief [is]... a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 679 (citation omitted). Thus, although a plaintiff's specific factual allegations may be consistent with a constitutional claim, a court must assess whether there are other "more likely explanations" for a defendant's conduct. Id. at 681.

But as the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has instructed, courts must "continue to construe pro se filings liberally." Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). A "complaint [filed by a pro se prisoner] must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Id. (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam)). If the Court determines that a pleading could be cured by the allegation of other facts, a pro se litigant is entitled to an opportunity to amend a complaint before dismissal of the action. See Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127-29 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). Here, Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted in his Complaint, but it appears that the Complaint could be cured by allegations of other facts. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Complaint will be dismissed without prejudice and Plaintiff will be given an opportunity to amend.

III. Complaint

In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges as follows: Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio forces his facility commanders to instruct housing officers to tell inmates to strip all clothing and be searched prior to getting a new set of facility-issued clothing and getting shackled to go to court. The process is repeated upon returning from court and upon release from jail or transfer to a new facility. As a result, Sheriff Arpaio has violated the Fourth, Eighth, Ninth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. Plaintiff asserts that pretrial detainees should not have to expose themselves in order to receive a ...


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