United States of America v. Flowers
ORDER Denying 12 Request for Hearing on Garnishment filed by Clara Flowers, 11 Request for Hearing on Garnishment filed by Clara Flowers. Signed by District Judge Victoria A. Roberts. (CPin)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Case No: 16-51619
Hon. Victoria A. Roberts
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT’S REQUEST FOR HEARING ABOUT
THE GARNISHMENT (ECF NO. 11, 12)
I. Procedural Posture
Clara Flowers (“Flowers”) was sentenced for Conspiracy to Commit
Federal Program Bribery under 18 U.S.C. § 371 and § 666(a)(1)(B) and
Federal Income Tax Evasion under 26 U.S.C. § 7201 in September 2016.
The United States of America (“the U.S.”) filed two writs for continuing
garnishment as to Flowers with the Michigan Department of Treasury and
the Office of Retirement Services (“ORS”). Flowers filed a Request for a
Hearing about the Garnishment and Claim for Exemptions and a Request
for Hearing about the Answer Filed by the Garnishee. Flowers’ requests
are not timely, and she raises no valid objections to either the garnishment
or the answer filed by the Garnishee. For the reasons stated, Flowers’s
requests are DENIED.
II. Rule of Law and Application to Defendant
A. Hearings About Garnishments: 28 U.S.C. § 3202
Flowers makes her request for a hearing under two different sections
of the Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act, under which the federal
government has the authority to enforce monetary judgments. 28 U.S.C. §
3202(a). The statute provides that after receiving a notice of garnishment, a
judgment debtor has 20 days to request a hearing, and by doing so may
move to quash the order granting the garnishment as restitution. Where
there is no default judgment at issue, “the issues at such hearing shall be
limited-- (1) to the probable validity of any claim of exemption by the
judgment debtor; [and] (2) to compliance with any statutory requirement for
the issuance of the postjudgment remedy granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 3202(d).
No default judgment is at issue in this case.
While the statutory language requires that the court “shall hold a
hearing…as soon as practicable,” courts have denied requests for hearings
“where the debtor did not object based on one of the issues specified in 28
U.S.C. § 3202(d), where the objection is plainly without merit, or where the
objection was simply a matter of statutory interpretation.” U.S. v. Miller, 588
F. Supp. 789, 797 (W.D. Mich. 2008) (denying a hearing where debtor
failed to identify any valid objections to the writ of garnishment). If a
defendant/debtor does not raise either of the statutorily permissible issues
in her request for a garnishment hearing, the request should be denied.
See also U.S. v. Mahar, 42 F.3d 1389 (6th Cir. 1994) (debtor’s claim of
financial hardship was not a permissible subject for a § 3202(d) hearing);
U.S. v. Lawrence, 538 F. Supp. 3d 1188, 1194 (D.S.D. 2008) (“If Congress
wanted to allow for the equities present in each case to be delved into at a
§ 3202(d) hearing, then it most assuredly would have said so and
expanded the scope of the statute accordingly.”)
Flowers has included an exemption form with her request, but did not
claim any exemptions. Flowers also does not raise §3202(d)’s other
permissible issue of statutory compliance. Her request for a hearing states
that “she has not been given an opportunity to pay, but is being served with
a garnishment which normally applies to someone who will not pay, not
someone who is willing to pay.” This objection does not fall under either of
§3202(d)’s permissible issues.
B. Hearings About Answers Filed By Garnishees: 28 U.S.C. § 3205
Flowers also requests a hearing under 28 U.S.C. § 3205, the
“Garnishment” provision of the Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act.
§3205(c)(5) provides that a judgment debtor may object to an Answer filed
by a Garnishee by filing a written request for a hearing.
Importantly, a §3205 hearing is not subject to the same limitations as
a §3202(d) hearing. §3205(c)(5) merely requires that “[t]he party objecting
shall state the grounds for the objection and bear the burden of proving
such grounds.” “That statute [unlike §3202(d)] does not limit the purposes
for such a hearing.” Miller at 797 (see also U.S. v. Crowther, 472 F. Supp.
2d 729 (E.D. Texas 2007).
While a defendant/debtor requesting a hearing in response to a
garnishee’s answer under §3205 may raise any issue in her objection, the
Court still has discretion to decide whether or not the objections are worthy
of a hearing. Id. §3205(c)(5), like §3202(d), requires that the court “shall
hold a hearing,” but a court may deny a request where the objection lacks
reason or merit. U.S. v. Menifield, 2016 WL 6395472, at *1 (E.D. Mich.
2016) (denying request for §3205 hearing where defendant merely
challenged the amount of the garnishment). If a debtor raises a valid
objection to a garnishee’s answer, this Court may grant her request for a
Under §3205, Flowers is required to state the grounds for the
objection and bear the burden of proving those grounds. Flowers
“disagree[s] with the Disposable Earnings amount of $4264.72 stated in the
Office of Retirement Services’ Answer” because “it is 286.77 more than
what she is receiving in her pension. Also disagree with this ending upon
her death instead of paid in full.”
Flowers has provided no evidence to support her claim that her
monthly pension benefits and disposable earnings as calculated by the
ORS are incorrect. She fails to raise a valid objection to the amount of the
Additionally, Flowers’ request was dated December 21 and filed on
December 27, 2016. §3205 states that a hearing must be requested within
twenty days after receipt of the garnishee’s answer, which in this case was
dated November 10 and filed on November 17, 2016. Even assuming that
Flowers didn’t receive the Answer until November 17, she would have had
to request a hearing by December 7. Her request is not timely.
For the reasons stated, Flowers’s requests for a hearing under
§3202(d) and §3205(c)(5) are DENIED.
IT IS ORDERED.
S/Victoria A. Roberts
United States District Judge
Dated: January 27, 2017
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