Coley v. Arkansas Department of Correction et al
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT. Signed by Judge J. Leon Holmes on 3/12/2014. (ks)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
PINE BLUFF DIVISION
KEITH E. COLEY, ADC #94008
NO. 5:14CV00018 JLH-JTK
RAY HOBBS, Director,
Arkansas Department of Correction
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT
Before the Court is the motion for default judgment filed by Keith Coley, an inmate in the
custody of the Arkansas Department of Correction. He is currently seeking a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Under the circumstances, the Court finds that the relief requested in
petitioner’s motion cannot be granted. Accordingly, petitioner’s motion for default judgment is
It seems that the respondent complied with the deadline, but petitioner would not be entitled
to his requested relief even if respondent’s response was a few days late. Although it does not appear
that the Eighth Circuit has ruled on whether habeas petitioners are entitled to default judgments for
a failure to answer, every other circuit that has answered the question has decided either that
petitioners are not entitled to such relief1 or that petitioners are only entitled to such relief in extreme
See, e.g, Gordon v. Duran, 895 F.2d 610, 612 (9th Cir. 1990) (“The failure to respond to
claims raised in a petition for habeas corpus does not entitle the petitioner to a default judgment.”);
Bermudez v. Reid, 733 F.2d 18, 21 (2d Cir. 1984); Broussard v. Lippman, 643 F.2d 1131, 1134 (5th
Cir. 1981); Aziz v. Leferve, 830 F.2d 184, 187 (11th Cir. 1987) (recognizing that a default judgment
is not contemplated in habeas corpus cases); Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 138 (6th Cir. 1970)
(“Rule 55(a) has no application in habeas corpus cases . . . .”).
circumstances.2 Several district courts within the Eighth Circuit have come to the same conclusion.3
Indeed, overturning a state conviction would hardly seem to be a proportionate sanction for a
respondent’s failure to file a timely response. Further, petitioner’s motion fails to allege that any
prejudice resulted from the minor delay.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that petitioner’s motion for default judgment be DENIED.
SO ORDERED this 12th day of March, 2014.
J. LEON HOLMES
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
See Lemons v. O’Sullivan, 54 F.3d 357, 364 (7th Cir. 1995) (“Default judgment is
disfavored in habeas corpus cases.”); Ruiz v. Cady, 660 F.2d 337, 341 (7th Cir. 1981).
White v. Hobbs, 5:10CV00357-DPM-JTR, 2011 WL 2110424, *1 (E.D. Ark. May 19,
2011) report and recommendation adopted, 5:10-CV-357-DPM-JTR, 2011 WL 2119127 (E.D. Ark.
May 27, 2011) (“Regardless of any delay, Petitioner is not entitled to a default judgment. Default
judgment is an extreme sanction that is disfavored in habeas cases, and some courts have even held
that it is unavailable.”); Kennemore v. Blake, 4:08CV173-DJS, 2009 WL 467304, at *2 (E.D. Mo.
Feb. 24, 2009) (holding that “[t]he extreme sanction of default judgment would be inappropriate”
when petitioner was not prejudiced by fourteen-day delay in responding to petition); Hodges v.
Norris, 5:07CV00062-SWW, 2008 WL 80547, *7 (E.D. Ark. Jan. 3, 2008) (“Releasing a properly
convicted prisoner by granting habeas relief is a disproportionate sanction for the technical violation
that occurred here . . . .”); Rollen v. Steele, 4:06CV1114-CAS-MLM, 2007 WL 1125711, at *1
(E.D. Mo. Mar. 26, 2007) (“Whether a default judgment is available in a habeas corpus proceeding
is doubtful.”); Nord v. Davis, 89 F. Supp. 2d 1092, 1093 (D.S.D. 2000) (“Although he argues to the
contrary, petitioner is not entitled to default judgment based on the government’s failure to respond
to his abuse of discretion argument.”).
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