Knotts v. Dunn (INMATE 3)
ORDERED as follows: 1) Petitioner William Knotts's 9 Objection is OVERRULED; 2) the 8 Recommendation is ADOPTED; and 3) Petitioner William Knotts's petition for writ of habeas corpus is DISMISSED under 28 USC § 2244(b)(3)(A) for Petitioner's failure to obtain the requisite order from the Eleventh Circuit authorizing the consideration of a successive habeas petition. Signed by Chief Judge William Keith Watkins on 10/14/2015. (wcl, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
JEFFERSON S. DUNN,
CASE NO. 2:15-CV-378-WKW
On July 30, 2015, the Magistrate Judge filed a Recommendation (Doc. # 8),
to which Petitioner Willie Gardner has filed a timely Objection (Doc. # 9). Upon
an independent and de novo review of those portions of the Recommendation to
which objection is made, the Objection is due to be overruled, the
Recommendation is due to be adopted, and Mr. Knotts’s petition for writ of habeas
corpus is due to be dismissed.
Mr. Knotts filed the present habeas petition to challenge the sentence of life
without the possibility of parole he received for a crime he committed when he was
a juvenile. He argues that his sentence should be vacated in light of Miller v.
Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455, 2469 (2012), in which the Supreme Court held that
imposition of mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for
juvenile offenders sentenced as adults violates the Eighth Amendment.
Magistrate Judge did not reach the merits of Mr. Knotts’s challenge because he
determined that Mr. Knotts had failed to obtain the requisite order from the
Eleventh Circuit authorizing the district court to consider a successive habeas
petition, leaving the court without jurisdiction.
Mr. Knotts objects to the Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge. In his
Objection, Mr. Knotts does not argue that his present petition is not successive for
purposes of triggering the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A). Nor does he
contend that he has received the requisite authorization from the Eleventh Circuit.
Rather, Mr. Knotts argues that this action should be stayed pending the Supreme
Court’s determination in Montgomery v. Louisiana, 135 S. Ct. 1546 (2015), on
grounds that Montgomery will determine whether the holding in Miller should be
While this court acknowledges the import of the forthcoming decision in
Montgomery, its pendency does not confer jurisdiction upon this court to entertain
Mr. Knotts’s petition. As the Supreme Court has explained, failing to adhere to
§ 2244(b)(3)’s “gatekeeping provisions” deprives district courts of jurisdiction to
entertain habeas petitions. Burton v. Stewart, 549 U.S. 147, 152 (2007) (holding
that the “District Court was without jurisdiction” when the petitioner failed to
obtain authorization from the court of appeals to bring a successive petition and
instructing that the case be remanded and dismissed for the lack of jurisdiction). A
stay is not sustainable where jurisdiction is lacking. When the court lacks
jurisdiction, it cannot stay the proceeding, but instead must dismiss it.
Gregory v. Mitchell, 634 F.2d 199, 204 n.2 (5th Cir. 1981) (noting that the court
cannot retain jurisdiction when it does not have jurisdiction and therefore cannot
stay the action). Accordingly, Mr. Knotts’s objection lacks merit; however, the
court echoes the determination of the Eleventh Circuit that dismissal of the present
petition “does not preclude” Mr. Knotts from seeking leave from the Eleventh
Circuit to file a new, successive petition “after the Supreme Court decides
Montgomery.” In re Knotts, No. 15-12380-E (11th Cir. June 25, 2015).
Accordingly, it is ORDERED as follows:
Petitioner William Knotts’s Objection (Doc. # 9) is OVERRULED;
the Recommendation (Doc. # 8) is ADOPTED; and
Petitioner William Knotts’s petition for writ of habeas corpus is
DISMISSED under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A) for Petitioner’s failure to obtain the
requisite order from the Eleventh Circuit authorizing the consideration of a
successive habeas petition.
A final judgment will be entered separately.
DONE this 14th day of October, 2015.
/s/ W. Keith Watkins
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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