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Chavez v. Wong

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

November 15, 2017

LEONARDO R. CHAVEZ, #A6068476, Plaintiff,
v.
PAUL B.K. WONG, THALIA MURPHY, JOHN SCHUM, and MEGAN K. KAU, Defendants.

          DISMISSAL ORDER

          Derrick K. Watson, United States District Judge

         Before the court is Plaintiff Leonardo R. Chavez's prisoner civil rights complaint brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. ECF No. 1. Chavez alleges that the Honorable Paul B.K. Wong, Judge of the First Circuit Court, State of Hawaii (“circuit court”), Deputy Prosecuting Attorney (“DPA”) Thalia Murphy, and Chavez's criminal defense attorneys John Schum, Esq., and Megan K. Kau, Esq., (collectively, “Defendants”), violated his constitutional rights during pending criminal proceedings in the state circuit court.[1] Chavez seeks dismissal of his criminal proceedings with prejudice, or in the alternative, “remand” of these criminal proceedings to the District of Hawaii for jury trial and consolidation with his pending civil action, Chavez v. United States, No. 1:16-cv-00685 HG-KJM (D. Haw. 2016).[2]

         Chavez's Complaint is DISMISSED without prejudice pursuant to the doctrine set forth in Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). Because amendment is futile, this dismissal is without leave to amend.

         I. CHAVEZ'S CLAIMS

         Chavez sets forth four causes of action. In Count I, Chavez alleges that Judge Wong violated the First and Sixth Amendments and the Hawaii constitution by denying his motion to subpoena his “military Chain of Command” at a pretrial hearing held in the circuit court on July 21, 2017. Chavez alleges Schum and Kau violated his rights by refusing to pursue this motion. See Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID # (Count I).

         In Count II, Chavez alleges Judge Wong violated his rights under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and the Hawaii constitution by making a “misleading and false statement during pretrial hearings . . . and denying [him] equal protection of the LAW.” Id., PageID #9. Chavez alleges that Judge Wong, DPA Murphy, Schum, and Kau violated his rights by their intent to allow Chavez's expert witness, Dr. Marvin Acklin, to testify at trial on Chavez's behalf, despite their knowledge that DPA Murphy is or was involved in the prosecution of Dr. Acklin's son.[3]

         In Count III, Chavez alleges “the State of Hawaii” violated Art. III, § 2, of the United States Constitution and the Hawaii constitution when Judge Wong allegedly told him that granting Chavez's request to terminate counsel might result in Chavez being forced to proceed without counsel and a delay in the trial.[4] Id., PageID #11. Chavez alleges Judge Wong has a personal bias or prejudice against him.

         In Count IV, Chavez alleges Judge Wong violated Art. VI of the United States Constitution by “deliberately mishandling [his] case, allowing false statements to be presented before the court on the record, and violating [his] civil rights” under the United States and Hawaii Constitutions. Id., PageID #13.

         II. STATUTORY SCREENING

         The court must conduct a pre-answer, sua sponte screening of prisoners' pleadings pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b). Claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim, or seek damages from defendants who are immune from suit must be dismissed. See Rhodes v. Robinson, 621 F.3d 1002, 1004 (9th Cir. 2010) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)).

         “The standard for determining whether a plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is the same as the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) standard for failure to state a claim.” Watison v. Carter, 668 F.3d 1108, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012) (discussing dismissal under § 1915(e)(2)); see also Wilhelm v. Rotman, 680 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2012) (discussing dismissal under § 1915A(a)). Rule 12(b)(6) requires that a complaint “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted); Wilhelm, 680 F.3d at 1121.

         Pro se litigants' pleadings must be liberally construed and all doubts should be resolved in their favor. Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). Leave to amend must be granted if it appears the plaintiff can correct the defects in the complaint. Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). If the complaint cannot be saved by amendment, dismissal without leave to amend is appropriate. Sylvia Landfield Trust v. City of L.A., 729 F.3d 1189, 1196 (9th Cir. 2013).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Federal courts may not interfere with ongoing state criminal proceedings absent extraordinary circumstances. Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 45-46 (1971); see also, Middlesex Cty. Ethics Comm. v. Garden State Bar Ass'n, 457 U.S. 423, 431 (1982) (stating Younger “espouse[d] a strong federal policy against federal-court interference with pending state judicial proceedings.”). Abstention under Younger is required when “(1) a state-initiated proceeding is ongoing; (2) the proceeding implicates important state interests; (3) the federal plaintiff is not barred from litigating federal constitutional issues in the state proceeding; and (4) the federal court action would enjoin the proceeding or have the practical effect of doing so, i.e., would interfere with the state proceeding in a way that Younger disapproves.” San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce ...


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