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Garcia v. Law Offices of the Public Defender

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

September 23, 2019

JESSE L. GARCIA, Plaintiff,
v.
THE LAW OFFICES OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER, JOHN/DOE, OR JANE/DOE, AND ROGER BARGAS, CONTRACT ATTORNEY, /THOMAS BENAVIDEZ, CONTRACT ATTORNEY, AND JAMSHID ASKAR SR, PUBLIC DEFENDER, SUSANA MARTINEZ GOVERNOR FOR NEW MEXICO, AND THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO, JOHN DOE/ OR JANE-DOE, AND SANTESTEVAN WARDEN FOR L.C.C.F INDIVIDUALLY AND IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ROBERT C. BRACK, SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on the Complaint filed by Plaintiff Jesse L. Garcia. (Doc. 1.) The Court will dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a prisoner incarcerated at the Lea County Correctional Facility (“L.C.C.F.”). (Id. at 2.) He was charged with 16 counts of forgery in State of New Mexico No. D-1010-CR-2012-00017. The Court takes judicial notice of the proceedings in his state court criminal action. See United States v. Ahidley, 486 F.3d 1184, 1192 n.5 (10th Cir. 2007) (The Court may take judicial notice of publicly filed records in this court and other courts concerning matters that bear directly upon the disposition of the case at hand). Plaintiff pled guilty and was sentenced on January 9, 2013. On June 28, 2013, Plaintiff was charged with a probation violation, and an Order revoking probation was entered on June 12, 2015. With the application of habitual offender enhancements based on prior felony convictions, he was sentenced to 32 years of imprisonment. See State v. Garcia, No. D-1010-CR-2012-00017. (See also Doc. 1 at 10.) He sought direct and collateral relief in State court and in this Court, attacking both his conviction in D-1010-CR-2012-00017 and his prior New Mexico felony convictions. Plaintiff’s filings in this Court included 16 prisoner civil rights cases, CV 89-00131 SEC/SB, CV 89-01086 JGB/JHG, CV 90-01071 JEC/WD, CV 93-00050 JAP/JHG, CV 94-00169 JAP/JHG, CV 94-00203 JAP/JHG, CV 94-00224 LH/DJS, 96 CV 00373 LH/LCS, CV 96-00472 LH/LFG, CV 97-00130 ELM/LFG, CV 97-01089 JAP/LFG, CV 98-00442 JEC/RLP, CV 00-00779 JEC/LCS, CV 01-01286 MV/LFG, CV 04-00407 JB/DJS, CV 04-00469 MCA/LFG, and 2 habeas corpus cases, CV 05-00586 JB/SCY, CV 16-01040 JB/SCY.

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint in this case on December 7, 2018. (Doc. 1.) He seeks to have the case proceed as a class action. (Id. at 1, 7.) The Complaint identifies Eric R. Fierro, Augustin F. Granado, Preston Blake, and David Otero as additional plaintiffs “at the discretion of the Judge and Court, ” but the Complaint is signed solely by Plaintiff. (Id. at 1, 2–3, 15.) Plaintiff may not represent any other individual or maintain this case as a class action, and the additional individuals are not proper parties to this proceeding. See Fymbo v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 213 F.3d 1320, 1320 (10th Cir. 2000).[1]

         Plaintiff names as Defendants the Law Offices of the Public Defender, John/Doe, or /Jane-Doe, Roger Bargas, Contract Attorney, Thomas Benavidez, Contract Attorney, Jamshid Askar Sr., Public Defender, Susana Martinez, Governor for New Mexico, the State of New Mexico, and Santestevan, Warden for L.C.C.F. (Doc. 1 at 1, 4–5.) He contends that his criminal defense counsel were ineffective, resulting in the imposition of an unreasonable sentence. (Id. at 8–11.) Plaintiff Garcia prays for relief:

1. Ordering Defendants to pay punitive and compensatory damages.
2. Systematict change to the Public Defenders Dept. in as to the Attorney Contract System.
3. To be released from prison, and that my case be vacated or set aside 4. Awarding Plaintiffs the reasonable costs and expenses of their action, including attorney’s fees.

(Id. at 15 (errors in original).)

         II. THE LAW REGARDING FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM

         Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis. (Doc. 8.) The Court has the discretion to dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint sua sponte for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted under either Rule 12(b)(6) or 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Under Rule 12(b)(6) the Court must accept all well-pled factual allegations, but not conclusory, unsupported allegations, and may not consider matters outside the pleading. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Dunn v. White, 880 F.2d 1188, 1190 (10th Cir. 1989). The court may dismiss a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim if “it is ‘patently obvious’ that the plaintiff could not prevail on the facts alleged.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1109 (10th Cir. 1991) (quoting McKinney v. Okla. Dep’t of Human Servs., 925 F.2d 363, 365 (10th Cir. 1991)). A plaintiff must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. A claim should be dismissed where it is legally or factually insufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. Id.

         The Court must examine the complaint to determine if an actionable claim is presented. In Twombly, the Supreme Court noted that the pleading standard of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 does not require “detailed factual allegations, ” 550 U.S. at 555, but the Rule demands more than an unadorned “defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me” account, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677– 78 (2009). The Supreme Court warned against pleadings that offer “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of the cause of action . . . .” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. These, the Court stated, “will not do.” Id. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders “naked assertion[s]” devoid of “further factual enhancement.” Id. at 557. In Iqbal, the Supreme Court noted:

[A] complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’ A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement’ but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are “merely consistent with” a ...

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