United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Brunswick Division
ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
BENJAMIN W. CHEESBRO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
James Hamilton (“Hamilton”) filed this 28 U.S.C.
§ 1361 action while he was housed at the Federal
Correctional Institution-Satellite Low in Jesup, Georgia.
Doc. 1. Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss, and Hamilton
filed a Response. Docs. 10, 15. For the reasons which follow,
I RECOMMEND the Court GRANT in
part and DENY without prejudice in
part Respondent's Motion to Dismiss. I also
RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS
Hamilton's Petition as moot,
DIRECT the Clerk of Court to
CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate
judgment of dismissal, and DENY Hamilton
in forma pauperis status on appeal.
was sentenced to 188 months' imprisonment in the District
Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee on February 17,
2016, after his conviction for being a felon in possession of
a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1)
and 924(e)(1). His projected release date is September 30,
2028, via good conduct time release. Doc. 1 at 2; Doc. 10-1
at 4-5. In his Petition, Hamilton asserts he has been
diagnosed with stage 4 cirrhosis of the liver, which is a
chronic, incurable, and terminal disease, and which is
complicated by his type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure,
kidney disease, chronic pulmonary obstructive disease,
hypertension, and a large tumor on his spleen. Doc. 1 at 2.
Hamilton asserts that life expectancy for patients diagnosed
with stage 4 cirrhosis is 18 months. Id.
asserts he submitted a compassionate release request to
Respondent on October 3, 2017, and supplemented his request
on November 13, 2017. Doc. 15 at 2. He further asserts he
“supplied numerous medical records with his requests
showing conclusively that he has been diagnosed with Stage 4
Liver Cirrhosis . . . .” Id. at 3. At the time
he filed this Petition on January 8, 2018, he alleged that he
had “not been notified of any action taken by
Respondent to grant or deny his request for compassionate
release.” He, therefore, asks the Court to issue a writ
of mandamus to compel Respondent to respond to his request
for compassionate release due to his terminal disease. Doc. 1
at 3, 4. Hamilton does not ask the Court to determine whether
his request for compassionate release should be granted or
denied, but, rather, to order the Respondent to respond to
the request. Doc. 15 at 5.
moves to dismiss Hamilton's Petition on two grounds:
because Hamilton's request is moot and because he failed
to exhaust his administrative remedies. Doc. 10. Regarding
mootness, Respondent argues that he did, in fact, respond to
Hamilton's request and points to a denial of the request
dated February 21, 2018. Doc. 10-2 at 4. Notably, that denial
apparently came after Hamilton filed this Petition but before
Respondent moved to dismiss the Petition. Respondent contends
that, because he has now responded to Hamilton's request,
the instant Petition is moot. Id. at 3-5.
Additionally, Respondent argues Hamilton was required to
exhaust administrative remedies before filing this Petition,
but he failed to appeal to the General Counsel's National
Inmate Appeals Office. Id.
disputes both arguments in his Response. Doc. 15. Hamilton
contends that Respondent's February 21, 2018 response is
not actually a response to his initial request, and,
therefore, cannot moot his Petition. Id. at 3.
Hamilton argues that Respondent's February 21, 2018
response incorrectly states Hamilton's original request
was submitted on December 22, 2017, despite the fact the
original request was submitted on October 3, 2017, and
supplemented on November 13, 2017. Id. Hamilton
contends this date error demonstrates that Respondent did not
actually consider the contents of his original request and
supplement. Id. In further support of this position,
Hamilton also contends the statement in Respondent's
February 21, 2018 response that Hamilton has “not been
diagnosed with a terminal incurable disease” is
contrary to the medical records Hamilton provided with his
request and demonstrates that Respondent did not consider
those records. Id. at 3. Hamilton also contends
that, in April 2018, Respondent sent employees to acquire the
original request and supplement, and the employees took the
original request and supplement, copied the documents, and
returned them to Hamilton. Id. at 4. Hamilton
contends this action demonstrates Respondent
“misplaced, lost or destroyed” his initial
request and supplement and did not consider those items.
Id. In light of these facts, Hamilton contends that
Respondent's February 21, 2018 response was not a
response to his original request, and, thus, his Petition is
not moot, and he had no available administrative remedy
process. Id. at 4, 5.
Hamilton's Petition is Moot 
contends that Hamilton's Petition is moot because he has
already responded to Hamilton's request for compassionate
release. Doc. 10 at 3-5. Based on the record as it stands
now, I agree and find that Hamilton's request is moot.
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). Regarding 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)).
criticizes the sufficiency, completeness, and foundation of
Respondent's February 21, 2018 response, but it is
undisputed that Respondent denied Hamilton's request for
compassionate release in that document. Doc. 10-2 at 4; Doc.
15-1 at 68. Regardless of whether Hamilton submitted an
Inmate Request to Staff on December 22, 2017, or on a prior
date, Respondent has now provided him with a response to his
compassionate release request. Even if the Warden was
mistaken in his denial of Hamilton's compassionate
release request, failed to consider all of the materials
submitted in support of the request, or lost the original
submission, the Warden considered the request and has now
denied it. As the only relief Hamilton requests was to obtain
consideration of and a response to his compassionate release
request, doc. 1 at 4; doc. 15 at 5, 6, 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 GRANT
this portion of Respondent's Motion to Dismiss and
DISMISS as moot Hamilton's Petition for
Writ of Mandamus.
The Court need not Address Respondent's Exhaustion
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a habeas
petitioner's failure to exhaust administrative remedies
is not a jurisdictional defect. Santiago-Lugo v.
Warden, 785 F.3d 467, 474 (11th Cir. 2015); see also
Fleming v. Warden of FCI Tallahassee, 631 Fed.Appx. 840,
842 (11th Cir. 2015) (“[Section] 2241's exhaustion
requirement was judicially imposed, not congressionally
mandated, and . . . nothing in the statute itself support[s]
the conclusion that the requirement [is]
jurisdictional.”). Nevertheless, the Eleventh Circuit
has noted “that the exhaustion requirement is still a
requirement and that courts cannot ‘disregard a failure
to exhaust . . . if the respondent properly asserts the
defense.'” Id. (citing
Santiago-Lugo, 785 F.3d at 475). It appears that the
exhaustion requirements apply to mandamus proceedings
regarding compassionate release requests. Jorgenson v.
O'Brien, Civil Action No. 5:11cv174, 2012 WL