White v. Municipal Courts of Huntsville AL et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION, as set out. Signed by Chief Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn on 7/3/13. (CTS, )
2013 Jul-03 PM 03:54
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
LORENZO L. WHITE,
MUNICIPAL COURTS OF
HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA, and the
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF
THE STATE OF ALABAMA,
Civil Action Number:
This is a habeas action filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 by Loreno L. White, pro se.
His petition indicates that he is in custody at the Madison County Metro Jail, serving a 360-day
sentence on a guilty-plea conviction for driving under the influence (“DUI”), entered in the
Huntsville Municipal Court. (Doc.1 1 (“Petition” or “Pet.”)). For the reasons that follow, the
court concludes that the action is due to be dismissed without prejudice for want of prosectuion.
After White filed the Petition, the court issued a show cause order to the Respondents.
(Doc. 3). The Respondents thereafter moved for and were granted two extensions of time in
which to file an Answer. (Docs. 4, 5; unnumbered docket entries dated 11/29/12 and 12/20/12).
White filed a motion thereafter requesting that the court grant the Respondents no further
extensions. (Doc. 6). After the Respondents filed an Answer on behalf of the State of Alabama
References herein to “Doc(s). __” are to the document numbers assigned by the Clerk of
the Court to the pleadings, motions, and other materials in the court file, as reflected on the
(Doc. 7), the court issued an order advising that it intended to dispose of the action summarily
and notifying White that he might submit evidence and argument in reply. (Doc. 8). The court
later issued an order finding as moot White’s motion relating to further extensions for
Respondents. (Unnumbered docket entry dated May 6, 2013). However, that latter order, mailed
to White at the jail address he has supplied to the court, was returned as undeliverable. (Doc. 9).
In response, the court issued an order reminding White that it is his obligation to keep the court
apprised of his current address and requiring him to show cause in writing by June 21, 2013 why
this action should not be dismissed for want of prosecution. (Doc. 10). He was further told that
if he failed to provide a current address or otherwise respond, the action would be subject to
dismissal without further notice. (Id.) That order, too, was returned to the court as undeliverable
(Doc. 11), and White has not filed a response to the show cause order.
Under FED. R. CIV. P. Rule 41(b), a case may be dismissed upon a determination of a
“clear record of delay or willful contempt and a finding that lesser sanctions would not suffice.”
Goforth v. Owens, 766 F.2d 1533, 1535 (11th Cir. 1985). Litigants proceeding pro se are not
exempt from this requirement of diligent prosecution. Moon v. Newsome, 863 F.2d 835 (11th
Cir.1989). The court’s inherent power to dismiss cases in which the plaintiff has failed to
diligently prosecute his action “is necessary in order to prevent undue delays in the disposition of
pending cases and to avoid congestion in the calendars of the District Courts.” Link v. Wabash
R.R., 370 U.S. 626, 630 (1962).
Here, the court concludes that no lesser sanction than dismissal will suffice, inasmuch as
the court does not know where White is at this time and is unable to contact him to impose any
such lesser sanctions. Barring dismissal, the court would have no choice but to leave this matter
open indefinitely hoping that maybe, someday, White decides to resurface and resume his § 2254
action, or at least notify the Clerk of Court as to his present whereabouts. Such a result would be
irreconcilable with principles of efficiency and common sense, much less a litigant’s duty to
prosecute an action with reasonable diligence and to keep the Clerk of Court apprised of his
current contact information. See United States v. Langford, 2010 WL 2595007, *1-2 (S.D. Ala.
June 24, 2010).
Based on the foregoing, this action is due to be DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE,
for want of prosecution. A separate final order will be entered.
DONE, this the 3rd day of July, 2013.
SHARON LOVELACE BLACKBURN
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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