CLARK v. WARREN
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER OF CIVIL CONTEMPT. Signed by Judge Noel L. Hillman on 1/7/2022. (tf, n.m.)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
MEMORANDUM OPINION &
ORDER OF CIVIL CONTEMPT
WARDEN, CUMBERLAND COUNTY
Cumberland County Jail
54 West Broad Street
Bridgeton, NJ 08302
Petitioner pro se
HILLMAN, District Judge
WHEREAS, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas
The default rule is that the proper respondent of a § 2241
petition is the warden of the facility where the prisoner is
being held. Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426, 435 (2004).
Subsequent to the filing of this petition, Charles Warren
resigned his position as Warden of the Cumberland County Jail
and has been replaced by Eugene Caldwell. The Court will direct
the Clerk to substitute Eugene Caldwell as the Warden on the
docket. Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(d). This substitution does not
impact the Court’s analysis because § 2241 petitions are filed
against the warden’s office, not the individual warden.
Moreover, Warden Caldwell had assumed his position by the time
the Court issued its order to show cause.
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corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on September 9, 2021, see ECF No.
WHEREAS, on September 30, 2021, the Court ordered
Respondent to answer the petition within 30 days, see ECF No. 4;
WHEREAS, the Clerk mailed copies of the petition and the
Order to Answer to the Warden of the Cumberland County Jail and
the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office; and
WHEREAS, on December 9, 2021, the Court issued an order to
show cause directing Respondent to show cause why the petition
should not be granted and why sanctions should not be imposed.
ECF No. 6.
The order was again mailed to the Warden of the
Cumberland County Jail and the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s
WHEREAS, the Court ordered a response within 21 days,
making the response due December 30, 2021.
The Court has
received no response to the order to show cause, or answer to
the § 2241 petition, as of the date of this Order; and
WHEREAS, “[c]ourts have inherent power to hold parties in
civil contempt in order ‘to enforce compliance with an order of
the court or to compensate for losses or damages.’”
States v. Ciampitti, 669 F. Supp. 684, 687 (D.N.J. 1987)
(quoting McComb v. Jacksonville Paper Co., 336 U.S. 187, 69
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WHEREAS, the Third Circuit requires three elements to be
proven by clear and convincing evidence: (1) there was a valid
court order; (2) the defendant had knowledge of the order; and
(3) the defendant disobeyed the order.
Harris v. City of
Phila., 47 F.3d 1311, 1326 (3d Cir. 1995).
“The resolution of
ambiguities ought to favor the party charged with contempt.”
“[W]illfulness is not a necessary element of civil
Harley–Davidson, Inc. v. Morris, 19 F.3d 142, 148–49
(3d Cir. 1994); and
WHEREAS, the Court’s September 30, 2021 order to answer and
the December 9, 2021 order to show cause were mailed to both the
Warden of the Cumberland County jail and the Cumberland County
The Warden has replied to other orders
that were mailed by the Clerk’s Office, see, e.g., Warden
Caldwell’s response to Court’s December 9, 2021 order, Bartley
v. Warren, No. 21-19312 (D.N.J. Jan. 7, 2022) (EDF No. 3).
Moreover, Counsel for Cumberland County and the Warden have
acknowledged to this Court in related proceedings as set forth
below that they understand that the Court sends correspondence
by mail and affirmed their obligation to respond to such process
within the allotted time or to where justified to seek leave
from the Court’s Orders.
Therefore, there is no reason to
believe that the Warden did not receive these orders as well.
The first two elements are easily satisfied by clear and
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convincing evidence; and
WHEREAS, the Court also finds by clear and convincing
evidence that Respondent has disobeyed the Court’s orders.
is not the first time Cumberland County, and specifically the
Warden of the Cumberland County Jail, has ignored this Court’s
The Court issued a series of orders to show cause
related to the jail’s failure to turn over funds from inmate
accounts pursuant to in forma pauperis orders.2
The Court held a
hearing on that issue, which current Warden Eugene Caldwell
attended, and expressed its frustration that its orders have
been continually disregarded:
I don’t understand why it would be difficult to have a
procedure in the mailroom that when you get a letter
from the United States District Court addressed to the
warden, that it’s not brought promptly to the attention
of the warden. I can’t imagine a well run mailroom seeing
an order from a Court, toss it in the garbage or give it
to someone who wouldn’t recognize the importance of it.
I just find that, frankly, shocking.
Harold v. Smith, No. 20-15623 (D.N.J. Dec. 6, 2021) (ECF No. 29
See Thompson v. Smith, No. 20-12454 (D.N.J. order to show cause
dated Oct. 7, 2021) (ECF No. 33); Harold v. Smith, No. 20-15623
(D.N.J. order to show cause dated Oct. 7, 2021) (ECF No. 13);
Harold v. Bagley, No. 21-0501 (D.N.J. order to show cause dated
Oct. 7, 2021) (ECF No. 9); Lawson v. Smith, No. 20-15705 (D.N.J.
order to show cause dated Oct. 7, 2021) (ECF No. 18); Ford v.
Smith, No. 20-18863 (D.N.J. order to show cause dated Oct. 7,
2021) (ECF No. 26); MacDonald v. Cumberland County Jail, No. 214518 (D.N.J. order to show cause dated Oct. 7, 2021) (ECF No. 4)
Clark v. Warren, No. 21-12797 (D.N.J. order to show cause dated
Oct. 7, 2021) (ECF No. 11); Kirkland v. Warren, No. 21-10921
(D.N.J. order to show cause dated Oct. 7, 2021) (ECF No. 13).
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at 12:16-24); and
WHEREAS, the Court was assured that a system had been put
into place to prevent future court orders from being misdirected
within the jail, id. at 13:5-17, and yet the order to show cause
mailed three days after this hearing was ignored.
noncompliance with the Court’s orders so soon after the County
specifically told the Court that the issue had been addressed is
clear and convincing evidence that Respondent has disobeyed the
Court’s orders; and
WHEREAS, the Court has provided Respondent with notice of
its intent to impose sanctions and an opportunity to respond.
ECF No. 6.
Respondent has elected not to respond.
the Court finds by clear and convincing evidence that Respondent
shall be held in civil contempt for failing to file a timely
answer to Petitioner’s habeas corpus petition; and
WHEREAS, where the purpose of a civil contempt order is to
make a party comply with Court orders, “the court’s discretion
is otherwise exercised.
It must then consider the character and
magnitude of the harm threatened by continued contumacy, and the
probable effectiveness of any suggested sanction in bringing
about the result desired.”
United States v. United Mine Workers
of Am., 330 U.S. 258, 304 (1947).
“[I]n fixing the amount of a
fine to be imposed as a punishment or as a means of securing
future compliance, [the Court must] consider the amount of
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defendant’s financial resources and the consequent seriousness
of the burden to that particular defendant.”
WHEREAS, Petitioner filed this habeas corpus petition
seeking release from allegedly unconstitutional conditions of
confinement at the Cumberland County Jail.
to respond to this petition has delayed the proceedings and
required the expenditure of scarce judicial resources to enforce
the Court’s orders.
Given Cumberland County’s repeated failures
to comply with Court orders despite receiving multiple warnings,
the Court finds that nothing short of monetary fines in the
amount of $1,000 per day will suffice to bring Respondent into
THEREFORE, IT IS on this 7th day of
ORDERED that the Clerk shall substitute Eugene Caldwell as
the Warden on the docket, Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(d); and it is
ORDERED that Respondent Warden of Cumberland County Jail
shall be, and hereby is, held in contempt of this Court’s
September 30, 2021 Order, ECF No. 4; and it is further
ORDERED that, beginning with today’s date, Respondent is
assessed a civil penalty in the amount of $1,000 per day until
the answer is filed, such amounts to be paid on a daily basis to
Clerk of the Court; and it is finally
ORDERED that the Clerk shall send a copy of this Order to
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the Warden of the Cumberland County Jail, the Cumberland County
Prosecutor’s Office, and Petitioner by regular mail.
s/ Noel L. Hillman
NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
At Camden, New Jersey
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