Coats v. United States of America
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins on 8/11/2016. (KAM, )
2016 Aug-11 PM 04:13
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
ROBERT JAMES COATS, JR.,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Case No.: 7:16-cv-8094-VEH
Robert James Coats, Jr. (hereinafter “Coats” or the “defendant”) initiated the
present action on June 24, 2015, by filing a pro se motion to vacate, set aside, or
correct his conviction and sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2255. (Doc.1). Coats’s
motion was filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and was predicated upon the new
rule announced in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015). Because
Coats’s motion was predicated upon the new rule announced in Johnson, the motion
was referred to the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Alabama
(hereinafter the “FPD”) pursuant to a General Order of this district regarding such
On July 14, 2016, the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of
Alabama, acting on behalf of Coats, filed a Motion To Stay and Hold In Abeyance.
(Doc. 4; the "Stay Motion"). The Government did not oppose the Stay Motion. On
July 18, 2016, this court granted the Stay Motion and stayed this action pending the
Supreme Court's decision in Beckles v. United States, No. 15-8544. (Docket entry
On July 21, 2016, this court was advised that the Eleventh Circuit Court of
Appeals had entered an order denying Coats's application for authorization to file a
second motion under Section 2255. (Doc. 6; Notice; see attachment 6-1). On July
22, 2016, this court entered an Order To Show Cause why the stay in this case
should not be lifted and this action dismissed in light of the Eleventh Circuit's order.
(Docket entry 7). The FPD responded that the stay was due to be lifted, and the
action dismissed, but that the dismissal should be without prejudice. (Doc. 8, filed
August 10, 2016).
“[A] second or successive [§ 2255] motion must be certified as provided in
section 2244 by a panel of the appropriate court of appeals.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h).
See also 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A). Because Coats has previously sought collateral
relief pursuant to § 2255 which was dismissed, and he has not demonstrated that he
has obtained permission from the Eleventh Circuit to file a second or successive
motion, this Court is without jurisdiction to entertain the instant § 2255 motion.
Darby v. Hawk–Sawyer, 405 F.3d 942, 944–45 (11th Cir.2005); Farris v. U.S., 333
F.3d 1211 (2003) (same); United States v. Harris, 546 Fed. Appx. 898, 900 (11th
Cir.2013) (unpublished opinion) (“A district court lacks the jurisdiction to hear a
second or successive § 2255 motion absent authorization from a court of appeals.”)
Because this court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the instant § 2255 Petition,
this case will be dismissed without prejudice.
ACCORDINGLY, it is ORDERED that:
1. The pending motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence (Doc. 1) is
DISMISSED, without prejudice, for lack of jurisdiction.
2. The Clerk is directed to term all pending motions within this case file and
the associated criminal case, United States v. Coats, 7:11-cr-068-VEH.
CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY AND LEAVE TO APPEAL
IN FORMA PAUPERIS DENIED
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Coats is not entitled to a certificate of
appealability. A prisoner seeking a motion to vacate has no absolute entitlement to
appeal a district court's denial of his motion. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1). Rather, a
district court must first issue a certificate of appealability (“COA”). Id. “A [COA]
may issue ... only if the applicant has made a substantial showing of the denial of a
constitutional right.” Id. at § 2253(c)(2). To make such a showing, a petitioner
“must demonstrate that reasonable jurists would find the district court's assessment
of the constitutional claims debatable or wrong,” Tennard v. Dretke, 542 U.S. 274,
282 (2004) (quoting Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000)), or that “the
issues presented were ‘adequate to deserve encouragement to proceed further.’ “
Miller–El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 335–36 (2003) (quoting Barefoot v. Estelle,
463 U.S. 880, 893 n. 4 (1983)). When a district court dismisses a federal habeas
petition on procedural grounds without reaching the underlying constitutional claim,
a COA should issue only when a petitioner shows “that jurists of reason would find
it debatable whether the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional
right and that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the district court was
correct in its procedural ruling.” Slack, 529 U.S. at 484. Because the instant motion
is clearly a successive § 2255 motion, Coats cannot make the requisite showing in
these circumstances. Finally, because Coats is not entitled to a COA, he is not
entitled to appeal in forma pauperis.
DONE and ORDERED this the 11h day of August, 2016.
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS
United States District Judge
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