United States District Court, D. Arizona
DAVID G. CAMPBELL, District Judge.
On January 5, 2015, Plaintiff Scott Jordan Armendariz, who is confined in the Gila County Jail in Globe, Arizona, filed a pro se civil rights Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Doc. 5) and a deficient Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. 2). By Order dated January 14, 2015, the Court denied the Application to Proceed, and gave Plaintiff 30 days in which to either pay the $400 filing and administrative fees, or submit a complete Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis.
On January 15, 2015, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint (Doc. 5) that superseded the original Complaint in its entirety. Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1262 (9th Cir. 1992). On January 23, 2015, Plaintiff submitted an Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. 6), and then, on February 2, 2015, Plaintiff submitted another Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. 8). The Court will grant Plaintiff's January 23 Application to Proceed, deny the February 2 Application to Proceed, and dismiss the Complaint with leave to amend.
I. Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis and Filing Fee
Plaintiff's January 23Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. 6) will be granted. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Plaintiff's February 2 Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (Doc. 8) will be denied as moot. Plaintiff must pay the statutory filing fee of $350.00. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). The Court will not assess an initial partial filing fee. Id. The statutory filing fee will be collected monthly in payments of 20% of the previous month's income credited to Plaintiff's trust account each time the amount in the account exceeds $10.00. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2). The Court will enter a separate Order requiring the appropriate government agency to collect and forward the fees according to the statutory formula.
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) (emphasis added). 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). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id.
"[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Id. (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). 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. "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. 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 ). Plaintiff's Complaint will be dismissed for failure to state a claim, but because it may possibly be amended to state a claim, the Court will dismiss it with leave to amend.
In his single-count First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff names as Defendants: Matthew Long and Natalie Huddleston, attorneys with the Pinal County Attorney's Office; Paul Babeu, the Pinal County Sheriff; and J. McCarley, an officer with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as written apologies from each of the Defendants.
In his lone ground for relief, Plaintiff alleges that a woman was beaten to death in Eloy, Arizona on or about July 15, 2014; at that time, Plaintiff was incarcerated for a drug offense. Several months later, Plaintiff was voluntarily interviewed by "Eloy Homicide about facts pertaining to that homicide." Plaintiff alleges that he was told by his defense counsel that "detectives were convinced [Plaintiff] was a viable suspect for a murder conspiracy, " despite the fact that Plaintiff was in jail at the time of the murder. Plaintiff's defense counsel "chose not to discourage the ...