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McGill v. Gartland

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Waycross Division

October 20, 2017

CHARLES MCGILL, Petitioner,
v.
PATRICK GARTLAND, [1] Respondent.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Petitioner Charles McGill (“McGill”), formerly housed at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) Processing Center in Folkston, Georgia, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. 1.) McGill neither paid the requisite filing fee nor moved to proceed in forma pauperis. For the reasons which follow, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS as moot McGill's Petition, DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal, and DENY McGill in forma pauperis status on appeal.

         BACKGROUND

         McGill filed his Petition in the Middle District of Georgia on September 6, 2017. (Doc. 1.) That court transferred McGill's Petition to this Court on September 22, 2017, as McGill was housed at a facility within this District. (Doc. 4.) In his Petition, McGill asserts he is a citizen and native of Liberia who came to the United States in 1992. McGill asserts the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which is now ICE, issued a Notice to Appear dated January 2010 and placed him in deportation proceedings. McGill states he had been detained beyond a “reasonable period of time”, which has been determined to presumptively be six months' time.[2] (Doc. 1, p. 3.) McGill requests release from custody pursuant to the United States Supreme Court's decision on Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678 (2001).[3]

         On September 22, 2017, the Clerk of Court advised McGill he had not paid the requisite filing fee and sent him blank copies of habeas corpus and in forma pauperis forms at his last known address. (Doc. 7.) However, this mailing was returned to the Court with the notation “released” on the envelope. (Doc. 8.) Thus, the Court must determine whether McGill's release from custody at the ICE facility renders his Petition moot and whether his Petition should be dismissed as a result.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Whether McGill's Petition is Moot

         Article III of the Constitution “extends the jurisdiction of federal courts to only ‘Cases' and ‘Controversies.'” Strickland v. Alexander, 772 F.3d 876, 882 (11th Cir. 2014). This “case-or-controversy restriction imposes” what is “generally referred to as ‘justiciability' limitations.” Id. There are “three strands of justiciability doctrine-standing, ripeness, and mootness-that go to the heart of the Article III case or controversy requirement.” Harrell v. The Fla. Bar, 608 F.3d 1241, 1247 (11th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted). With regard to the mootness strand, the United States Supreme Court has made clear that “a federal court has no authority ‘to give opinions upon moot questions or abstract propositions, or to declare principles or rules of law which cannot affect the matter in issue in the case before it.'” Church of Scientology of Cal. v. United States, 506 U.S. 9, 12 (1992) (internal citation omitted). Accordingly, “[a]n issue is moot when it no longer presents a live controversy with respect to which the court can give meaningful relief.” Friends of Everglades v. S. Fla. Water Mgmt. Dist., 570 F.3d 1210, 1216 (11th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). Questions of justiciability are not answered “simply by looking to the state of affairs at the time the suit was filed. Rather, the Supreme Court has made clear that the controversy ‘must be extant at all stages of review, not merely at the time the complaint is filed.'” Christian Coal. of Fla., Inc. v. United States, 662 F.3d 1182, 1189-90 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Preiser v. Newkirk, 422 U.S. 395, 401 (1975)).

         As noted above, McGill has been released from confinement at the Folkston ICE facility. As McGill only requests his release from the custody of ICE in his Petition, and it appears he has been released from ICE's custody, there is no longer a “live controversy” over which the Court can give meaningful relief. Friends of Everglades, 570 F.3d at 1216. Accordingly, the Court should DISMISS as moot McGill's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.

         II. Leave to Appeal in Forma Pauperis

         The Court should also deny McGill leave to appeal in forma pauperis. Though McGill has, of course, not yet filed a notice of appeal, it would be appropriate to address these issues in the Court's order of dismissal. Fed. R. App. P. 24(a)(3) (trial court may certify that appeal of party proceeding in forma pauperis is not taken in good faith “before or after the notice of appeal is filed”). An appeal cannot be taken in forma pauperis if the trial court certifies that the appeal is not taken in good faith. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3); Fed. R. App. P. 24(a)(3). Good faith in this context must be judged by an objective standard. Busch v. Cty. of Volusia, 189 F.R.D. 687, 691 (M.D. Fla. 1999). A party does not proceed in good faith when he seeks to advance a frivolous claim or argument. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 445 (1962). A claim or argument is frivolous when it appears the factual allegations are clearly baseless or the legal theories are indisputably meritless. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989); Carroll v. Gross, 984 F.2d 392, 393 (11th Cir. 1993). Stated another way, an in forma pauperis action is frivolous, and thus, not brought in good faith, if it is “without arguable merit either in law or fact.” Napier v. Preslicka, 314 F.3d 528, 531 (11th Cir. 2002); see also Brown v. United States, Nos. 407CV085, 403CR001, 2009 WL 307872, at *1-2 (S.D. Ga. Feb. 9, 2009).

         Given the above analysis of McGill's Petition, there are no non-frivolous issues to raise on appeal, and an appeal would not be taken in good faith. Thus, the Court should DENY in forma pauperis status on appeal.

         CONCLUSION

         Based on the foregoing, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS as moot McGill's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, (doc. 1), DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate ...


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