Taylor v. Flournoy
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS of the Magistrate Judge that the Court DISMISS as moot Taylor's 1 Petition, DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal, and DENY Taylor in forma pauperis status on appeal. Any party seeking to object to this Report and Recommendation is ordered to file specific written objections within fourteen (14) days of the date on which this Report and Recommendation is entered. (Objections to R&R due by 10/30/2017). ORDER directing service of the REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS of the Magistrate Judge. Signed by Magistrate Judge R. Stan Baker on 10/16/2017. (csr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
CIVIL ACTION NO.: 2:16-cv-149
JOHN V. FLOURNOY,
ORDER and MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Petitioner Rick Taylor (“Taylor”), who is incarcerated at Federal Correctional Institution
in Jesup, Georgia, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241.
Respondent filed a Response.
For the reasons which follow, I
RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS as moot Taylor’s Petition, DIRECT the Clerk of
Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal, and DENY Taylor in
forma pauperis status on appeal.
In his Petition, Taylor challenges a sanction that he received as a result of a hearing
before a Discipline Hearing Officer (“DHO”). (Doc. 1.) At the hearing, the DHO determined
that Taylor committed the prohibited act of assault without serious injury, in violation of Code
224 of the Bureau of Prisons’ (“BOP”) discipline regulations. Taylor alleges that he was actually
innocent of the charge, that there was no evidence to support a finding that he assaulted the
victim as alleged, that he was denied the right to due process, and that he was discriminated
against racially. (Id. at p. 3.) Specifically, he contends that he was not allowed to present the
other inmates’ disciplinary hearing records, which would have revealed a pattern of similar false
allegations. (Id. at p. 7.) Taylor requests that this Court order that the incident report be
expunged and that his lost 27 days of good conduct time be restored. (Id. at p. 8.)
Respondent filed a response to Taylor’s Petition and states that the issue is now moot,
because the BOP has granted Taylor the relief he sought. (Doc. 9.) Specifically, Respondent
states that BOP staff conducted a review of Taylor’s claims in response to his Petition, and that,
as a result of that review, the BOP expunged the incident report and restored Taylor’s good
conduct time. (Id. at pp. 3–4.) Respondent offers exhibits in support of this assertion, including
the Affidavit of Vincent Shaw, Senior Litigation Counsel in the Southeast Regional Office of the
BOP, as well as Taylor’s Inmate Discipline Data dated January 5, 2017. (Doc. 9-1, pp. 1–3, 18.)
Taylor did not file a Reply (or any other pleading) following Respondent’s Response.
Whether Taylor’s Petition is Moot
Article III of the Constitution “extends the jurisdiction of federal courts to only “‘Cases’
and ‘Controversies.’” Strickland v. Alexander, 772 F.3d 876, 882 (11th Cir. 2014). This “caseor-controversy restriction imposes” what is “generally referred to as ‘justiciability’ limitations.”
Id. There are “three strands of justiciability doctrine—standing, ripeness, and mootness—that go
to the heart of the Article III case or controversy requirement.” Harrell v. The Fla. Bar, 608
F.3d 1241, 1247 (11th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted). With regard
to the mootness strand, the United States Supreme Court has made clear that “a federal court has
no authority ‘to give opinions upon moot questions or abstract propositions, or to declare
principles or rules of law which cannot affect the matter in issue in the case before it.’” Church
of Scientology of Cal. v. United States, 506 U.S. 9, 12 (1992) (internal citation omitted).
Accordingly, “[a]n issue is moot when it no longer presents a live controversy with respect to
which the court can give meaningful relief.” Friends of Everglades v. S. Fla. Water Mgmt. Dist.,
570 F.3d 1210, 1216 (11th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted).
justiciability are not answered “simply by looking to the state of affairs at the time the suit was
filed. Rather, the Supreme Court has made clear that the controversy ‘must be extant at all
stages of review, not merely at the time the complaint is filed.’” Christian Coal. of Fla., Inc. v.
United States, 662 F.3d 1182, 1189–90 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Preiser v. Newkirk, 422 U.S.
395, 401 (1975)).
In his Petition, Taylor only requested that the incident report be expunged and that his
good conduct time be restored. As noted above, Taylor has since been granted this relief. Thus,
there is no longer a “live controversy” over which the Court can give meaningful relief. Friends
of Everglades, 570 F.3d at 1216. Accordingly, the Court should DISMISS as moot Taylor’s
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.
Leave to Appeal in Forma Pauperis
The Court should also deny Taylor leave to appeal in forma pauperis. Though Taylor
has, of course, not yet filed a notice of appeal, it would be appropriate to address these issues in
the Court’s order of dismissal. Fed. R. App. P. 24(a)(3) (trial court may certify that appeal of
party proceeding in forma pauperis is not taken in good faith “before or after the notice of appeal
An appeal cannot be taken in forma pauperis if the trial court certifies that the appeal is
not taken in good faith. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3); Fed. R. App. P. 24(a)(3). Good faith in this
context must be judged by an objective standard. Busch v. Cty. of Volusia, 189 F.R.D. 687, 691
(M.D. Fla. 1999). A party does not proceed in good faith when he seeks to advance a frivolous
claim or argument. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 445 (1962). A claim or
argument is frivolous when it appears the factual allegations are clearly baseless or the legal
theories are indisputably meritless. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989); Carroll v.
Gross, 984 F.2d 392, 393 (11th Cir. 1993). Stated another way, an in forma pauperis action is
frivolous, and thus, not brought in good faith, if it is “without arguable merit either in law or
fact.” Napier v. Preslicka, 314 F.3d 528, 531 (11th Cir. 2002); see also Brown v. United States,
Nos. 407CV085, 403CR001, 2009 WL 307872, at *1–2 (S.D. Ga. Feb. 9, 2009).
Given the above analysis of Taylor’s Petition and Respondent’s Response, there are no
non-frivolous issues to raise on appeal, and an appeal would not be taken in good faith. Thus,
the Court should DENY in forma pauperis status on appeal.
Based on the foregoing, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS as moot Taylor’s
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, (doc. 1), DIRECT the
Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal, and DENY
Taylor leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
The Court ORDERS any party seeking to object to this Report and Recommendation to
file specific written objections within fourteen (14) days of the date on which this Report and
Recommendation is entered. Any objections asserting that the Magistrate Judge failed to address
any contention raised in the pleading must also be included. Failure to do so will bar any later
challenge or review of the factual findings or legal conclusions of the Magistrate Judge. See 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985). A copy of the objections must be
served upon all other parties to the action. The filing of objections is not a proper vehicle
through which to make new allegations or present additional evidence.
Upon receipt of objections meeting the specificity requirement set out above, a United
States District Judge will make a de novo determination of those portions of the report, proposed
findings, or recommendation to which objection is made and may accept, reject, or modify in
whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the Magistrate Judge. Objections not
meeting the specificity requirement set out above will not be considered by a District Judge. A
party may not appeal a Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation directly to the United
States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Appeals may be made only from a final
judgment entered by or at the direction of a District Judge. The Court DIRECTS the Clerk of
Court to serve a copy of this Report and Recommendation upon the parties.
SO ORDERED and REPORTED and RECOMMENDED, this 16th day of October,
R. STAN BAKER
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
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