Case No.: 3:19-cv-01900-MMA-RBM
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AS BARRED BY 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g);
[Doc. No. 4]
DISMISSING CIVIL ACTION WITHOUT PREJUDICE FOR FAILURE TO PAY FILING FEE REQUIRED BY 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a)
Plaintiff STEVEN WAYNE BONILLA, currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison ("SQ") located in San Quentin, California, and proceeding pro se, has filed a civil action. See Doc. No. 1. Plaintiff did not prepay the filing fee required to commence a civil action at the time he filed his Complaint; instead, he has filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) (Doc. No. 4).
The Court takes judicial notice that over the course of the last 18 years, Plaintiff has filed more than 1,000 separate civil rights actions and habeas corpus petitions, primarily in the Northern District of California, which is where Alameda County is situated, where he was convicted by jury of first degree murder with special circumstances and sentenced to death, and where he is currently incarcerated. See People v. Bonilla, 41 Cal. 4th 313 (2007); https://pcl.uscourts.gov/pcl/pages/search/results/parties.jsf?sid=f29f4a3f9f17408 e8076c92cfe63a2a0 (last visited Apr. 17, 2019); Bias v. Moynihan, 508 F.3d 1212, 1225 (9th Cir. 2007) (Courts "may take notice of proceedings in other courts, both within and without the federal judicial system, if those proceedings have a direct relation to matters at issue.") (citation and quotations omitted). --------
I. Motion to Proceed IFP
A. Standard of Review
"All persons, not just prisoners, may seek IFP status." Moore v. Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, 657 F.3d 890, 892 (9th Cir. 2011). Prisoners like Plaintiff, however, "face ... additional hurdle[s]." Id. Specifically, in addition to requiring prisoners to "pay the full amount of a filing fee," in "monthly installments" or "increments" as provided by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3)(b), Bruce v. Samuels, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S. Ct. 627, 629 (2016); Williams v. Paramo, 775 F.3d 1182, 1185 (9th Cir. 2015), the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") amended section 1915 to preclude the privilege to proceed IFP:
. . . if [a] prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury.28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). "This subdivision is commonly known as the 'three strikes' provision." Andrews v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1116 n.1 (9th Cir. 2005).
"Pursuant to § 1915(g), a prisoner with three strikes or more cannot proceed IFP." Id.; see also Andrews v. Cervantes, 493 F.3d 1047, 1052 (9th Cir. 2007) (hereafter "Cervantes") (under the PLRA, "[p]risoners who have repeatedly brought unsuccessful suits may entirely be barred from IFP status under the three strikes rule[.]"). The objective of the PLRA is to further "the congressional goal of reducing frivolous prisoner litigation in federal court." Tierney v. Kupers, 128 F.3d 1310, 1312 (9th Cir. 1997). "[S]ection 1915(g)'s cap on prior dismissed claims applies to claims dismissed both before and after the statute's effective date." Id. at 1311.
"Strikes are prior cases or appeals, brought while the plaintiff was a prisoner, which were dismissed on the ground that they were frivolous, malicious, or failed to state a claim," Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1116 n.1 (internal quotations omitted), "even if the district court styles such dismissal as a denial of the prisoner's application to file the action without prepayment of the full filing fee." O'Neal v. Price, 531 F.3d 1146, 1153 (9th Cir. 2008). When courts "review a dismissal to determine whether it counts as a strike, the style of the dismissal or the procedural posture is immaterial. Instead, the central question is whether the dismissal 'rang the PLRA bells of frivolous, malicious, or failure to state a claim.'" El-Shaddai v. Zamora, 833 F.3d 1036, 1042 (9th Cir. 2016) (quoting Blakely v. Wards, 738 F.3d 607, 615 (4th Cir. 2013)).
Once a prisoner has accumulated three strikes, section 1915(g) prohibits his pursuit of any subsequent IFP civil action or appeal in federal court unless he faces "imminent danger of serious physical injury." See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g); Cervantes, 493 F.3d at 1051-52 (noting § 1915(g)'s exception for IFP complaints which "make a plausible allegation that the prisoner faced 'imminent danger of serious physical injury' at the time of filing.").
As an initial matter, the Court has reviewed Plaintiff's Complaint, and finds it does not contain any "plausible allegations" to suggest he "faced 'imminent danger of serious physical injury' at the time of filing." Cervantes, 493 F.3d at 1055 (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g)).
And while Defendants typically carry the initial burden to produce evidence demonstrating a prisoner is not entitled to proceed IFP, Andrews, 398 F.3d at 1119, "in some instances, the district court docket may be sufficient to show that a prior dismissal satisfies at least one on the criteria under § 1915(g) and therefore counts as a strike." Id. at 1120. That is the case here.
A court may take judicial notice of its own records, see Molus v. Swan, Civil Case No. 3:05-cv-00452-MMA-WMc, 2009 WL 160937, *2 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 22, 2009) (citing United States v. Author Services, 804 F.2d 1520, 1523 (9th Cir. 1986)); Gerritsen v. Warner Bros. Entm't Inc., 112 F. Supp. 3d 1011, 1034 (C.D. Cal. 2015), and "'may take notice of proceedings in other courts, both within and without the federal judicial system, if those proceedings have a direct relation to matters at issue.'" Bias, 508 F.3d at 1225 (quoting Bennett v. Medtronic, Inc., 285 F.3d 801, 803 n.2 (9th Cir. 2002)); see also United States ex rel. Robinson Rancheria Citizens Council v. Borneo, Inc., 971 F.2d 244, 248 (9th Cir. 1992).
Based on the records and court proceedings available on PACER, this Court takes judicial notice that Plaintiff Steven Wayne Bonilla, identified as CDCR #J-48500, while incarcerated, has had dozens of prisoner civil actions or appeals dismissed on the grounds that they were frivolous, malicious, or failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See In re Steven Bonilla, 2012 WL 216401, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 24, 2012) (noting Plaintiff's litigation history in the Northern District of California, including the dismissal of 34 pro se civil rights actions between June 1 and October 31, 2011 alone, which were dismissed "because the allegations in [his] complaints d[id] not state a claim for relief under § 1983."); id. at *3 ("The following five actions are DISMISSED without prejudice and without leave to amend for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted: Bonilla v. Superior Court of Alameda County, C 11-6306; Bonilla v. Alameda County District Attorney's Office, C 11-6307; Bonilla v. California Supreme Court, C 12-0026; Bonilla v. Cullen, C 1200027; Bonilla v. California Supreme Court, C 12-0206."); id. at *3 n.1 ("The Court recently informed Plaintiff that, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), he no longer qualifies to proceed in forma pauperis in any civil rights action." (citing In re Steven Bonilla, Nos. C 11-3180, et seq. CW (PR), Order of Dismissal at 6:23-7:19.)); see also Bonilla v. Hernandez, No. 3:18-CV-978-JLS-BLM, 2018 WL 3817864, at *3 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 10, 2018) (denying Plaintiff leave to proceed IFP as barred by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g)); Bonilla v. Plourd, No. 3:18-CV-0954-BAS-JLB, 2018 WL 3656105, at *3 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 1, 2018) (same).
Accordingly, because Plaintiff has, while incarcerated, accumulated far more than three "strikes" pursuant to § 1915(g), and he fails to make a "plausible allegation" that he faced imminent danger of serious physical injury at the time he filed his Complaint, he is not entitled to the privilege of proceeding IFP in this civil action. See Cervantes, 493 F.3d at 1055; Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d 1176, 1180 (9th Cir. 1999) (finding that 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) "does not prevent all prisoners from accessing the courts; it only precludes prisoners with a history of abusing the legal system from continuing to abuse it while enjoying IFP status"); see also Franklin v. Murphy, 745 F.2d 1221, 1231 (9th Cir. 1984) ("[C]ourt permission to proceed IFP is itself a matter of privilege and not right.").
II. Conclusion and Orders
For the reasons explained, the Court:
1) DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed IFP (Doc. No. 4) as barred by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g);
2) DISMISSES this civil action without prejudice based on Plaintiff's failure to pay the full statutory and administrative $400 civil filing fee required by 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a);
3) CERTIFIES that an IFP appeal from this Order would be frivolous and therefore, would not be taken in good faith pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3); and
4) DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to close the file.
IT IS SO ORDERED. DATE: December 2, 2019
HON. MICHAEL M. ANELLO
United States District Judge