Sooklal v. The District Director for Immigration Custom Enforcement et al
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry) (eo)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
THE DISTRICT DIRECTOR FOR
ENFORCEMENT, et al.,
Hon. John E. Jones III
September 22, 2014
On April 14, 2014, Petitioner, Nigel Sooklal, a native and citizen of Trinidad
and Tobago, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241
challenging his continued detention by the United States Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (“ICE”) and seeking a release from confinement. (Doc. 1, p. 23). At
the time his petition was filed, Petitioner was detained at the York County
Correctional Facility, in York, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1).
On September 18, 2014, Respondents filed a suggestion of mootness stating
that, pursuant to a final order of removal issued by the Immigration Judge on
March 10, 2014, Petitioner was removed from the United States and returned to
Trinidad and Tobago on June 26, 2014. (Doc. 9, Exhibit A). Respondents argue
that the habeas petition is therefore moot. (Doc. 9, pp. 2-3), citing Blanciak v.
Allegheny Ludlum Corp., 77 F.3d 690, 698-99 (3d Cir. 1996) (“If developments
occur during the course of adjudication that eliminate a plaintiff’s personal stake in
the outcome of a suit or prevent a court from being able to grant the requested
relief, the case must be dismissed as moot.”); Rose v. Hodges, 423 U.S. 19, 21
(1975); DeFoy v. McCullough, 393 F.3d 439, 441 (3d Cir. 2005). For the reasons
set forth below, the habeas petition will be dismissed as moot.
Article III of the Constitution dictates that a federal court may adjudicate
“only actual, ongoing cases or controversies.” Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp.,
494 U.S. 472, 477 (1990); Burkey v. Marberry, 556 F.3d 142, 147 (3d Cir. 2009).
“[A] petition for habeas corpus relief generally becomes moot when a prisoner is
released from custody before the court has addressed the merits of the petition.”
Green v. Decker, et al., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82974, *2 (M.D. Pa. 2013) (Kane,
J.) (quoting Lane v. Williams, 455 U.S. 624, 631 (1982)). Thus, when a petitioner,
who challenges only his ICE detention pending removal and not the validity of the
removal order itself, is deported, the petition becomes moot because the petitioner
has achieved the relief sought. See Tahic v. Holder, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49782,
*3-4 (M.D. Pa. 2011) (Nealon, J.); Nguijol v. Mukasey, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
95464, *1-2 (M.D. Pa. 2008) (Conner, J.) (dismissing the habeas petition as moot).
In the present case, the habeas petition only challenges Petitioner’s
continued detention pending removal. See (Doc. 1). For relief, Petitioner requests
that this Court issue an Order directing ICE “to exercise its discretion to release
petitioner on parole, on order of his own recognizance, or a reasonable bond.”
(Doc. 1, p. 23). Because Petitioner has since been deported to Trinidad and
Tobago, the petition no longer presents an existing case or controversy. See Tahic,
2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49782 at *3-4 (citing DeFoy, 393 F.3d at 441). Further,
Petitioner has received the habeas relief he sought, namely, to be released from
ICE custody. See Sanchez v. Attorney General, 146 Fed. Appx. 547, 549 (3d Cir.
2005) (holding that the habeas petition challenging the petitioner’s continued
detention by ICE was rendered moot once the petitioner was released); Green,
2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82974 (concluding that the petitioner’s removal to Jamaica
rendered the habeas petition moot because he received the only relief sought, his
release on supervision from ICE custody). Accordingly, the instant habeas corpus
petition will be dismissed as moot.
A separate Order will be issued.
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