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Salazar v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

January 17, 2018

David Anthony Salazar, Petitioner,
Charles L Ryan, et al., Respondents.


          James A. Teilborg Senior United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court is Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration. (Doc. 24.)

         I. Procedural Background

         David Anthony Salazar (“Petitioner”) filed a Section 2254 action on April 14, 2017, [1] challenging his confinement in an Arizona state prison, following a guilty plea made in Maricopa County Superior Court to one count of sexual conduct with a minor under fifteen and two counts of attempted molestation of a child. (Doc. 1.) On May 26, this Court referred this matter to Magistrate Judge James F. Metcalf (“Magistrate Judge”) and ordered Respondents to answer within forty days after Petitioner served them. (Doc. 5 at 4.)

         On June 5, the Magistrate Judge set an initial schedule for the case, requiring all motions to amend to be filed within twenty-eight days of Respondents serving their Answer. (Doc. 8 at 1.) The same day, Petitioner filed a Petition for Leave to File a Supplemental Brief to Include Memorandum of Points and Authorities, (Doc. 9), which the Magistrate Judge denied without prejudice due to Petitioner's failure to lodge the proposed Memorandum with the Court, (Doc. 10.)

         On June 19, Petitioner moved to amend his Petition to include a memorandum of points and authorities, (Doc. 11), but failed to attach his proposed amendment, prompting the Magistrate Judge to deny Petitioner's request, (Doc. 12.)

         On July 5, Respondents filed and served their Answer. (Doc. 13.) Subsequently, on July 11, Petitioner moved for an extension of time to amend. (Doc. 15.) The Magistrate Judge granted this motion and provided that Petitioner had until August 21 “to file any motions to amend, motions to supplement, motions to stay, motions for evidentiary hearing, motions to expand the record, and the like, seeking to expand the petition, or the record herein.” (Doc. 16.)

         On August 9, Petitioner replied to Respondents' Answer, (Doc. 19), and filed his Amended Petition, (Doc. 20.) The next day, the Magistrate Judge sua sponte struck the Amended Petition, noting that the time to amend as a matter of course expired on July 24 and Petitioner had not obtained either Respondents' written consent or the Court's leave. (Doc. 22.) On August 28, Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Magistrate Judge's decision to strike the Amended Petition, (Doc. 24), which this Court treats as an appeal from the Magistrate Judge.

         II. Governing Law

         In nondispositive matters, a district judge, upon a party's timely objection, must review a magistrate judge's order and “modify and set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or is contrary to law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); see also Rule 12 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases (holding that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure apply to Section 2254 proceedings to the extent that they do not conflict with the Section 2254 Rules or statutory provisions). To determine whether a magistrate judge's denial of a motion is dispositive, a court “examine[s] whether the denial . . . effectively disposes of a claim or defense or precludes the ultimate relief sought.” Bastidas v. Chappell, 791 F.3d 1155, 1164 (9th Cir. 2015); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) (2012).

         “A party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within: (A) 21 days after serving it; or (B) if the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required, 21 days after the service of a responsive pleading.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). Otherwise, one may only amend “with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). “The Court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Id.

         Under the District of Arizona's Local Rules of Civil Procedure (“Local Rules”), a motion for leave to amend must include an attached “copy of the proposed amended pleading as an exhibit to the motion, which must indicate in what respect it differs from the pleading which it amends, by bracketing or striking through the text to be deleted and underlining the text to be added.” LRCiv 15.1. The Local Rules operate with the “force of law” and bind the Court and the parties. Prof'l Programs Grp. v. Dep't of Commerce, 29 F.3d 1349, 1353 (9th Cir. 1994) (quoting Martel v. Cty. of L.A., 21 F.3d 940, 946-47 (9th Cir. 1994)). Although courts must construe pro se filings liberally, Woods v. Carey, 525 F.3d 886, 890 (9th Cir. 2008), pro se litigants are still bound by the Local Rules, LRCiv 83.3(c)(1); Ghazali v. Moran, 46 F.3d 52, 53 (9th Cir. 1995) (per curiam) (upholding dismissal of pro se prisoner's action where the prisoner failed to comply with a Nevada local rule). A departure from the Local Rules is only justified where the harm to the opposing party is “so slight and unimportant that the sensible treatment is to overlook [it].” Prof'l Programs Grp., 29 F.3d at 1353 (quoting Martel, 21 F.3d at 947 n.4).

         Courts in the District of Arizona routinely deny “motions for leave to amend for failure to comply with” Local Rule 15.1(a). Eldridge v. Schroeder, No. CV-14-01325-PHX-DGC (ESW), 2016 WL 354868, at *2 (D. Ariz. Jan. 28, 2016) (compiling cases), adopted by 2016 WL 1408128 (D. Ariz. Apr. 11, 2016); see Huminski v. Heretia, No. CV 11-0896-PHX-DGC, 2011 WL 2910536, at *1 (D. Ariz. July 18, 2011) (denying pro se plaintiff's leave to amend for failure to comply with Local Rule 15.1); see also Young v. Nooth, 539 Fed. App'x 710, 711 (9th Cir. 2013) (finding no abuse of discretion in district court's refusal to grant leave to amend to a pro se prisoner who failed to comply with Oregon's corollary to Local Rule 15.1).

         III. ...

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