SHELTON v. HOLLINGSWORTH
OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 5/18/2015. (TH, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
STEVEN RAY SHELTON,
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 15-1249 (JBS)
Steven Ray Shelton, Petitioner Pro Se
FCI Fort Dix
P.O. Box 2000
Fort Dix, New Jersey 08640
Irene E. Dowdy, Esq.
Office of the U.S. Attorney
401 Market Street, Fourth Floor
P.O. Box 2098
Camden, New Jersey
Attorney for Respondent, Jordan Hollingsworth
SIMANDLE, Chief Judge:
This matter comes before the Court on pro se Petitioner
Steven Ray Shelton’s (“Petitioner”) motion for default judgment
and imposition of sanctions, or in the alternative to strike
Respondent Jordan Hollingsworth’s answer to his Petition for
Writ of Habeas Corpus. (Docket Entry 6). These motions are being
decided on the papers pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 78(b). For
the reasons set forth below, Petitioner’s motions, with the
exception of his motion for an extension of time, are denied.
Petitioner filed a petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 challenging the Bureau of
Prisons’(“BOP”) calculation of his sentence. (Docket Entry 1).
On February 25, 2015, this Court ordered Respondent to answer
the petition within 45 days. (Docket Entry 2).
On April 8, 2015, Petitioner filed a Motion for Default
Judgment. (Docket Entry 3). Respondent filed his answer to the
petition, (Docket Entry 4), as well as his opposition to
Plaintiff’s motion, (Docket Entry 5), on April 13, 2015. On
April 22, 2015, Petitioner filed a Motion for Default, Motion
for Sanctions or, in the alternative, to strike portions of
Respondent’s answer. (Docket Entry 6).1 Respondent filed his
opposition to those motions on May 4, 2015. (Docket Entry 8).
Simultaneously with his second set of motions, Petitioner
filed a motion for the appointment of pro bono counsel and for
an extension of time to file a traverse. (Docket Entry 7).
Respondent did not file an objection to those motions. (See
generally Docket Entry 8).
Petitioner’s second Motion for Default Judgment restates the
arguments made in his first motion, namely that Respondent’s
answer was untimely.
A. Motion for Default Judgment
Petitioner filed two motions for a default judgment.
(Docket Entries 3 and 6). An entry of default by the Clerk of
Court serves as a “prerequisite” to obtaining a default judgment
by the court. Husain v. Casino Control Comm'n, 265 F. App'x 130,
133 (3d Cir. 2008); see also Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 55(a). The Clerk
of the Court did not enter any default by Respondent, therefore
default judgment is not appropriate.
In addition to there being no entry of default, default
judgment is additionally inappropriate because Respondent’s
answer was timely. Petitioner argues that as this Court’s order
was dated February 24, 2015, Respondent’s answer was due on
April 10, 2015. (Docket Entry 6 ¶¶ 3-4). As Respondent did not
request an extension before filing, Petitioner argues he is
entitled to a default judgment.
This argument, however, has no
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6, the day of the
event triggering the 45-day filing deadline, in this case the
entry of the Court’s order on February 25, 2015, is excluded
from the calculation of time. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 6(a)(1)(A).
February 26, therefore, was the first day of the 45-day time
period. The 45th day was Saturday, April 11, 2015, and under the
federal rules “if the last day is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal
holiday, the period continues to run until the end of the next
day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.” Fed. R.
Civ. Pro. 6(a)(1)(C). The time period in which Respondent could
file a timely answer to the petition was therefore continued
until Monday, April 13, 2015. Respondent did in fact file his
answer on that date, (Docket Entry 4), therefore the answer was
Petitioner’s motions for default judgment are denied.
B. Motion for Sanctions
Petitioner additionally asks this Court to impose
sanctions, both in the form of monetary penalties and
Petitioner’s immediate release pending resolution of his
petition, against Respondent for failure to provide the Court
and Petitioner with certified copies of the complete
administrative record. (Docket Entry 6 ¶¶ 8-14). Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 37 allows a court to impose sanctions where a
party “fails to obey an order to provide or permit discovery.”
Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 37(b)(2)(A). The Court employs its sound
discretion in determining what sanctions to impose. See Bowers
v. NCAA, 475 F.3d 524, 538 (3d Cir. 2007). Unlike an order
compelling discovery, however, an order to file an answer to the
§ 2241 petition, including an appendix, is not always selfexplanatory. Moreover, if there is a disagreement about the
completeness of the administrative record, the disputing party
has the burden of producing the missing items for completeness,
or, at a minimum, identifying with particularity what is missing
and why it is necessary. Such disputes can readily be resolved
between parties without court interruption.
In response to the Court’s order, Respondent submitted a
detailed appendix containing documents certified to be accurate
copies of the originals. (See generally Docket Entry 4). The
response includes Petitioner’s administrative remedy requests
and the responses by BOP officials. (Docket Entry 4-13).
Although Petitioner argues “Respondent failed to filed any
administrative record, and provided piecemeal documentation of
Marshall custody[,]” (Docket Entry 6 ¶ 10 (emphasis in
original)), he does not identify what portions of the record
Respondent did not provide. Petitioner has not demonstrated
there has been a violation of the Court’s order, let alone a
willful violation warranting sanctions. Petitioner’s motion is
C. Motion to Strike
A district court may “strike from a pleading an
insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent,
or scandalous matter.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f). However,
“[m]otions to strike are generally viewed with disfavor, and
will usually be denied unless the allegations in the pleading
have no possible relation to the controversy, and may cause
prejudice to one of the parties.” Sliger v. Prospect Mortgage,
LLC, 789 F. Supp. 2d 1212, 1216 (E.D. Cal. 2011) (citing 5A C.
Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil 2d
Petitioner requests this Court to strike Respondent’s
introduction and statement of the case. The Court will not do so
as Petitioner has not shown that the introduction and statement
of the case are irrelevant to the case or cause him unfair
prejudice. The motion is denied.
D. Motion for Appointment of Counsel
Petitioner requests this Court appoint counsel for him as
he has no formal legal training. (Docket Entry 7). At this time,
the motion for counsel will be denied without prejudice.
There is no Sixth Amendment right to appointment of counsel
in habeas proceedings. See Pennsylvania v. Finley, 481 U.S. 551,
555 (1987) (“our cases establish that the right to appointed
counsel extends to the first appeal of right, and no further”);
Parham v. Johnson, 126 F.3d 454, 456–57 (3d Cir. 1997) (holding
that there is no statutory or constitutional right of counsel
conferred upon indigent civil litigants); Reese v. Fulcomer, 946
F.2d 247, 263 (3d Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 503 U.S. 988 (1992)
(“there is no ‘automatic’ constitutional right to counsel in
federal habeas corpus proceedings), superseded on other grounds
by statute, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
Title 18 of the United States Code, section 3006A(a)(2)(B)
states that counsel may be appointed to an indigent habeas
petitioner where the “interests of justice so require.”2
Petitioner is not presently eligible for the appointment of
counsel as he has not demonstrated he is unable to afford an
attorney. The Court must deny the motion at this point in time,
however the Clerk shall be directed to send Petitioner an
application to proceed in forma pauperis.
wish to reapply for appointment of counsel, he should include
the application with his motion, and address the factors listed
in n.2, above.
E. Motion for Extension of Time
In the interests of justice, and as Respondent has not
objected, Petitioner’s motion for an extension of time to file a
response to Respondent’s answer shall be granted. Petitioner
shall have thirty (30) days from the date of this Opinion and
Order to submit his response.
The relevant factors in this inquiry include “‘(i) the
likelihood of success on the merits; (ii) the complexity of the
legal issues raised by the complaint; and (iii) the ability of
the prisoner to investigate and present the case.’” Neeld v. New
Jersey, 2012 WL 603293, *1 (D.N.J. Feb. 22, 2012) (quoting Paul
v. Attorney Gen. of State of N.J., 1992 WL 184358, *1 (D.N.J.
July 10, 1992)).
For the above stated reasons, Petitioner’s motions, with
the exception of his motion for an extension of time to file a
response, are denied. An accompanying Order will be entered.
May 18, 2015
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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