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Osuna v. Wong

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

February 1, 2017

PHILLIP OSUNA, #A1037613, Plaintiff,


          Derrick K. Watson United States District Judge

         Pro se Plaintiff Phillip Osuna, a pretrial detainee, has commenced this prisoner civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. ECF. No. 1. Osuna alleges that the Honorable Paul B.K. Wong, Circuit Court of the First Circuit (“circuit court”), State of Hawaii, and City and County of Honolulu Deputy Prosecutor Chasid Mila Sapolu have violated his civil rights during his ongoing criminal proceedings in State v. Osuna, 1PC151001574 (filed Sept. 21, 2015). Osuna seeks an emergency hearing regarding his claims. For the following reasons, this action is DISMISSED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Osuna is incarcerated at the Oahu Community Correctional Center (“OCCC”), awaiting trial in 1PC151001574. See eCourt Kokua: (last visited Jan. 31, 2017).[1] Osuna is represented by John M. Schum, Esq. Id. Trial call is currently set for the week of March 20, 2017. Id.

         Osuna alleges that Deputy Prosecutor Sapolu violated his right to due process by “stacking” his charges, and Judge Wong is compounding this violation by denying his motions to dismiss his case or suppress unidentified evidence. Osuna further alleges that Judge Wong's failure to grant his motions to suppress and dismiss constitute evidence of Judge Wong's bias.


         Federal courts must screen all cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity, officer, or employee, or seek to proceed without prepayment of the civil filing fees. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(b)(2) and 1915A(a). The court must identify cognizable claims and dismiss those claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. at §§ 1915(b)(2) and 1915A(b).

         A complaint 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). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Moreover, a plaintiff must demonstrate that each defendant personally participated in the deprivation of his rights. Jones v. Williams, 297 F.3d 930, 934 (9th Cir. 2002).

         The pleadings of pro se prisoners must still be liberally construed and given the benefit of any doubt. Blaisdell v. Frappiea, 729 F.3d 1237, 1241 (9th Cir. 2013); Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). However, “the liberal pleading standard . . . applies only to a plaintiff's factual allegations.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 330 n.9 (1989). “[A] liberal interpretation of a civil rights complaint may not supply essential elements of the claim that were not initially pled.” Bruns v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Ivey v. Bd. of Regents, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir. 1982)). A plaintiff must identify specific facts supporting the existence of substantively plausible claims for relief. Johnson v. City of Shelby, 135 S.Ct. 346, 347 (2014) (per curiam) (citation omitted). Leave to amend should be granted if it appears possible that the plaintiff can correct the complaint's defects. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000).


         A. Immunities

         Judge Wong and Deputy Prosecutor Sapolu are absolutely immune from liability for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for actions taken in their official capacities. See Ashelman v. Pope, 793 F.2d 1072, 1078 (9th Cir. 1986) (citing Bradley v. Fisher, 80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 335, 347 (1872)); Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 427, 430 (1976)) (holding prosecutors are entitled to absolute immunity from civil rights suits when they engage in activities “intimately associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process”). Judge Wong's denial of Osuna's motions and Sapolu's decisions regarding which charges to bring are clearly official acts subject to absolute immunity. Osuna fails to state a claim against Judge Wong and Deputy Prosecutor Sapolu, and these claims are DISMISSED.

         B. Younger and Rooker-Feldman Abstention Doctrines

         Further, challenges to ongoing state criminal proceedings in federal court are barred by the abstention doctrine set forth in Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). Younger abstention applies regardless of whether the applicant seeks declaratory or injunctive relief, or damages. See Mann v. Jett, 781 F.2d 1448, 1449 (9th Cir. 1986) (per curiam); Gilbertson v. Albright, 381 F.3d 965, 984 (9th Cir. 2004) (holding Younger abstention applies equally to damages actions as to actions seeking declaratory and injunctive relief). If a claim for declaratory or injunctive relief is raised, the federal court should abstain and dismiss without ...

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