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Prison Litigation Coordinators Must Accept Service In Prisoner Civil Suit

Crane v. Dolihite Docket: F079877 (Fifth Appellate District), Opinion Date: October 22, 2021. In 2013, Crane was studying in a GED class at the High Desert State Prison. Inmate Dolihite approached Crane from behind and stabbed him in the neck with a pencil. Crane was taken to the prison’s emergency clinic. Crane alleges that after he was released from administrative segregation, he was assaulted by other prisoners and prison guards. He sued the correctional officers under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Crane contends the assaults were retaliation against him for previously suing the warden and two captains for denying outdoor exercise and staging assaults on inmates. Crane, self-represented, sued Dolihite. The suit was dismissed for failure to serve the summons and complaint within the time prescribed by Code Civ. Proc., 583.210(a). Dolihite had been transferred to Salinas Valley State Prison; for a time, Crane was unable to identify his location. The superior court advised Crane to use the sheriff’s office to effect service but the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office refused to serve the summons and complaint. The litigation coordinator at Salinas Valley refused to accept service on behalf of Dolihite. The court of appeal reversed the dismissal. The litigation coordinator’s refusal contradicts Penal Code 4013(a) and Code of Civil Procedure 416.90, which have been interpreted as authorizing state prison litigation coordinators to accept service on behalf of inmates. Crane’s statutory right to initiate and prosecute a civil action was infringed.


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