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In re Williams

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia

July 25, 2017

IN RE FRANKLIN WILLIAMS

          ORDER

          J. RANDAL HALL, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA

         This matter is before the Court because Franklin Williams (/'Williams") has filed numerous frivolous motions in cases which this Court closed months and even years ago. This is by no means the first time Williams has forced this Court to expend its valuable resources addressing his meritless filings. For years, Williams has sought to clog this Court's docket with voluminous pleadings that serve no purpose other than to threaten the just and speedy determination of legitimate actions filed by deserving litigants. To prevent further abuse of the judicial process, the Court enters the following Order of Sanctions, by which the Court ORDERS Williams to abide. In addition, the Court DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to follow the instructions contained herein.

         BACKGROUND

         Franklin Williams ("Williams") was convicted in the Ware County, Georgia, Superior Court in 1997, and he was released from the custody of the State of Georgia on October 23, 2009. http://www.dcor.state.ga.us/GDC/Offender/Query, search for "Franklin Williams'', last accessed July 14, 2017. Williams was then convicted in this Court, after a jury trial, of two counts of distribution of cocaine on February 26, 2007. Jury Verdict, United States v. Williams, 5:06-cr-14, (S.D. Ga. Feb. 26, 2007), ECF No. 49. The Honorable William T. Moore, Jr., sentenced Williams to 292 months' imprisonment as to each count, to be served concurrently with each other and concurrently with a revoked state parole term Williams was serving at the time. J., United States v. Williams, 5:06-cr-14, (S.D. Ga. June 20, 2007), ECF No. 62. Judge Moore later reduced Williams' sentence to 235 months' imprisonment based on a reduction to the applicable Sentencing Guidelines' range. Order, United States v. Williams, (S.D. Ga. Oct. 21, 2008), ECF No. 76. Williams' current release date is November 19, 2024. https://www.bop.gov/inmateloc/, search for "Franklin Lamar Williams", last accessed July 14, 2017.

         Williams began his campaign of harassment and vexatious litigation in federal courts in 2001, and his efforts to barrage this Court, as well as several other courts throughout the United States, began in earnest in 2007. Williams has filed cases in the District of Columbia, the Middle District of Florida, the Western District of Texas, and this Court, not to mention his filings before the Fifth Circuit and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeals. Williams frequently filed 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), causes of action in this Court. However, he somewhat relented in filing original civil rights cases after the Court barred him from doing so under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) and due to his harassment of several defendants. See R & R, Williams v. Eaves, 5:12-cv-24 (S.D. Ga. May 29, 2012), ECF No. 8; R & R, Williams v. Eaves, 5:09-cv-102 (S.D. Ga. Mar. 1, 2010), ECF No. 30. Even though Williams curtailed filing new civil rights causes of action, he incessantly files post-judgment motions in civil rights cases that have long been closed. See, e.g.. Mots., Williams v. Eaves. 5:09-cv-102 (S.D. Ga. Sept. 8 and 23, 2016), ECF Nos. 119, 122.

         Moreover, Williams continues to inundate this Court's docket with habeas corpus actions filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241, 2254, and 2255. Since 2007, Williams has filed, in this Court alone, at least twenty-four (24) Section 2255 motions, fourteen (14) Section 2241 petitions, and twelve (12) Section 2254 motions.[1] Despite this Court denying Williams' filings on the merits, R. & R., Williams v. United States of America, 5:08-cv-34 (S.D. Ga. Oct. 14, 2008), ECF No. 4, or dismissing his filings as unauthorized second or successive pleadings, R. & R., Williams v. United States. 5:15-cv-26 (S.D. Ga. May 16, 2016), ECF No. 2, Williams has continued his filing rampage. In fact, Williams filed yet another Section 2255 motion, and United States Magistrate Judge R. Stan Baker recommended that motion be dismissed as an unauthorized second or successive motion. R. & R., Williams v. United States, 5:16-cv-86 (S.D. Ga. Feb. 21, 2017), ECF No. 15. Judge Moore adopted this recommendation as the opinion of the Court and directed the Clerk of Court to close that case. Order, Williams v. United States, 5:16-cv-86 (S.D. Ga. June 23, 2017), ECF No. 28. Moreover, as with his closed civil rights cases, Williams continues to file post-judgment pleadings in many of his closed habeas cases. See, e.g.. Mot., Williams v. Tamez. 5:11-cv-83 (S.D. Ga. Sept. 14, 2016), ECF No. 65; Mot., Williams v. Flournoy. 2:16-cv-48 (S.D. Ga. Oct. 11, 2016), ECF No. 14. In fact, Williams recently filed a Motion for Certificate of Appealability and a Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis in Case Number 5:16-cv-86, despite Judge Moore having already denied these forms of relief in his Order adopting the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation. Mots., Williams v. United States. 5:16-cv-86 (S.D. Ga. July 7, 2017), ECF Nos. 31, 32.

         DISCUSSION

          "Injunctive restrictions on filings by abusive litigants are 'necessary and prudent' in order to curb conduct that would impair the rights of other litigants and the courts' ability to carry out their Article III functions." Shivers v. United States, 427 F.App'x 697, 699 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Procup v. Strickland, 792 F.2d 1069, 1071, 1073 (11th Cir. 1986)). The United States Supreme Court has held: "The goal of fairly dispensing justice ... is compromised when the Court is forced to devote its limited resources to the processing of repetitious and frivolous requests. Pro se petitioners have a greater capacity than most to disrupt the fair allocation of judicial resources because they are not subject to the financial considerations-filing fees and attorney's fees-that deter other litigants from filing frivolous petitions." In re Anderson, 511 U.S. 364, 365 (1994) (quoting In re Sindram, 498 U.S. 177, 179 (1991)).

         Sanctions are particularly appropriate after a litigant has been warned about the possibility of sanctions and has ignored that warning. See, e.g.. Nelson v. Reese, 214 F.App'x 465 (5th Cir. 2007); Perkins v. United States. No. 99-41421, 2000 WL 959916, at *1 (5th Cir. June 13, 2000); Alexander v. United States, 121 F.3d 312, 315 (7th Cir. 1997); McDonald v. Summers. No. 3:05-0243, 2011 WL 2437766 (M.D. Tenn. June 13, 2011); Shivers. 427 F.App'x at 697 (imposing restrictions on subsequent in forma pauperis filings and warning that future frivolous filings could lead to additional sanctions). Moreover, a court may resort to monetary sanctions when litigants persist in filing frivolous submissions. United States v. Green. No. 3:96CR74/RV, 2012 WL 6761572, at *2 (N.D. Fla. Dec. 19, 2012), report and recommendation adopted, No. 3:96CR74/RV, 2013 WL 45293 (N.D. Fla. Jan. 3, 2013) (citing Alexander, 121 F.3d at 316 (imposing $500 sanction after warning); Nelson, 214 F.App'x at 467 ($250 sanction after warning); Smith v. Gilmore, 111 F.3d 55, 56 (7th Cir. 1997) ($50 sanction after warning); McDonald, 2011 WL 2437766, at *4 ($1000 sanction after multiple warnings); Miller v. Williams, No. CV411-065, 2011 WL 1898921 (S.D. Ga. May 17, 2011) ($500 sanction recommended in light of litigant's eight-year "unceasing paper-war against this court"), report and recommendation adopted, 2011 WL 2181628 (S.D. Ga. June 2, 2011).

         This Court has explicitly warned Williams on numerous occasions that "should he continue to file patently frivolous motions, his ability to seek redress with this Court will be sharply limited" and that "he will be deemed a serial abusive filer." See Orders, Williams v, Darden, 4:11-cv-213 (S.D. Ga. Oct. 28, 2013; June 30, 2015; Feb. 22, 2016), ECF Nos. 34, 45, 47; see also Order, Williams v. Currie, 5:07-cv-22 (S.D. Ga. Feb. 18, 2010), ECF No. 18. Moreover, the Court has informed Williams on numerous occasions that the arguments he repeats ad nauseam are frivolous and/or futile. Id.; see also Orders, Williams v. Eaves, 5:O9-cv-102 (S.D. Ga. Mar. 1, 2012; May 13, 2010; Mar. 25, 2011; Oct. 3, 2012), ECF Nos. 30, 45, 83, 86; Orders, Williams v. Darden, 4:11-cv-213 (S.D. Ga. Apr. 5, 2012; July 12, 2012; Nov. 11, 2013; Oct. 13, 2016), ECF Nos. 23, 25, 39, 64; Order, Williams v. Fiveash, 5:07-cv-25 (S.D. Ga. Aug. 18, 2010), ECF No. 33. Despite these warnings, Williams has persisted in being a vexatious litigant who continuously files frivolous motions and other papers. See, e.g., Mots., Williams v. Eaves, 5:09-cv-102 (S.D. Ga. Sept. 28, 2012-Sept. 23, 2016), ECF Nos. 85, 87, 90, 91, 98, 99, 102, 107, 100, 116, 118, 119, 122.

         In the case of a serial frivolous filer such as Williams, this Court has "considerable discretion to impose even severe restrictions" that will curtail what Williams may file and how he must behave before this Court. Shivers, 427 F.App'x at 699. While this Court has imposed some restrictions on Williams' ability to file civil rights actions, it has been hesitant to place restrictions on his ability to file habeas corpus petitions. However, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has approved the imposition of filing restrictions and other sanctions, even in the habeas corpus context, hi at 697; see also Williams. Ronnie v. Byson, No. CV416-232, 2016 WL 6609217, at *2 (S.D. Ga. Oct. 19, 2016), report and recommendation adopted, No. CV4l6-232, 2016 WL 6609193 (S.D. Ga. Nov. 7, 2016) (imposing restrictions to curb petitioner's "vexatious habeas litigation"). Further, given that Williams has filed at least fifty (50) habeas actions in this Court, he has more than been afforded the opportunity to challenge his convictions and sentences. Indeed, the District Courts for the Middle District of Florida and Western District of Texas have imposed restrictions on Williams' ability to file habeas corpus pleadings in their courts. Order, Williams v. Warden, 5:14-cv-00684-WTH-PRL (M.D. Fla. Apr. 13, 2015), ECF No. 13; R. & R. and Order, Williams v. Pearce, 1:12-cv-00368-SS (W.D. Tex. Jan. 23, and Feb. 13, 2013), ECF Nos. 25, 28.

         Moreover, ordinarily, an individual collaterally attacking the validity of a federal sentence must bring a motion under Section 2255 in the district of conviction. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a); Turner v. Warden Coleman FCI (Medium), 709 F.3d 1328, 1333 (11th Cir. 2013), abrogation on other grounds recognized by United States v. Hill, 799 F.3d. 1318, 1321 n.1 (11th Cir. 2015). However, as this Court has previously explained to Williams, given his prior habeas filings, to file a Section 2255 motion, he must first file an application with the appropriate court of appeals for an order authorizing this Court to consider the motion. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A); Carter v. United States, 405 F.App'x 409, 410 (11th Cir. 2010) ("Without authorization" from the court of appeals, a "district court lack[s] jurisdiction to consider [a movant's] second or successive" motion.). Thus, by restricting Williams' ability to file yet another habeas petition in this Court, the Court is only reinforcing a Congressional mandate and jurisdictional limitation which Williams has repeatedly ignored.[2]

         Williams' history of filings in this Court alone more than justifies the imposition of sanctions, [3] The Court will no longer tolerate Williams' frivolous filings, because they threaten the Court's ability to adjudicate the legitimate claims of other litigants. Accordingly, the Court imposes the following restrictions[4] on Williams. These restrictions apply to all six (6) divisions of this Court.

         I. Williams' ...


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