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Coleman v. Edge

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

October 21, 2019

VERNON MARCUS COLEMAN, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN DEREK EDGE, Respondent.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BENJAMIN W. CHEESBRO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court upon Petitioner Vernon Coleman's (“Coleman”) failure to comply with the Court's September 25, 2019 Order. Doc. 8. For the following reasons, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS Coleman's Petition without prejudice for failure to follow the Court's Order, DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal, and DENY Coleman leave to appeal in forma pauperis.[1]I DENY Coleman's Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis in this Court. Doc. 4.

         BACKGROUND

         On September 10, 2019, Coleman filed his 28 U.S.C. § 2241 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the District Court for the Northern District of Texas. That court transferred Coleman's Petition to this District. Docs. 3, 5. Coleman also filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. Doc. 4. This Court deferred ruling on Coleman's Motion, advised him his Motion was not on the Court's preferred form, and directed Coleman to submit his application on the provided form within 14 days of the September 25, 2019 Order. Doc. 8. This Order was not returned to the Court as undeliverable or as otherwise failing to reach Coleman. Coleman did not return his in forma pauperis application or pay the requisite filing fee. Coleman has made no filings in this case since he filed his Petition on September 10, 2019.

         DISCUSSION

         The Court must now determine how to address Coleman's failure to comply with this Court's Order. For the reasons set forth below, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS without prejudice Coleman's Petition, DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal, and DENY Coleman leave to appeal in forma pauperis.

         I. Dismissal for Failure to Prosecute and to Follow this Court's Order

         A district court may dismiss a petitioner's claims for failure to prosecute pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) (“Rule 41(b)”) and the court's inherent authority to manage its docket. Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 626 (1962);[2] Coleman v. St. Lucie Cty. Jail, 433 Fed.Appx. 716, 718 (11th Cir. 2011) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b) and Betty K Agencies, Ltd. v. M/V MONADA, 432 F.3d 1333, 1337 (11th Cir. 2005)). In particular, Rule 41(b) allows for the involuntary dismissal of a petitioner's claims where he has failed to prosecute those claims, comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or local rules, or follow a court order. Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b); see also Coleman, 433 Fed.Appx. at 718; Sanders v. Barrett, No. 05-12660, 2005 WL 2640979, at *1 (11th Cir. Oct. 17, 2005) (citing Kilgo v. Ricks, 983 F.2d 189, 192 (11th Cir. 1993)); cf. Local R. 41.1(b) (“[T]he assigned Judge may, after notice to counsel of record, sua sponte . . . dismiss any action for want of prosecution, with or without prejudice[, ] . . . [based on] willful disobedience or neglect of any order of the Court.” (emphasis omitted)). Additionally, a district court's “power to dismiss is an inherent aspect of its authority to enforce its orders and ensure prompt disposition of lawsuits.” Brown v. Tallahassee Police Dep't, 205 Fed.Appx. 802, 802 (11th Cir. 2006) (quoting Jones v. Graham, 709 F.2d 1457, 1458 (11th Cir. 1983)).

         It is true that dismissal with prejudice for failure to prosecute is a “sanction . . . to be utilized only in extreme situations” and requires that a court “(1) conclud[e] a clear record of delay or willful contempt exists; and (2) mak[e] an implicit or explicit finding that lesser sanctions would not suffice.” Thomas v. Montgomery Cty. Bd. of Educ., 170 Fed.Appx. 623, 625-26 (11th Cir. 2006) (quoting Morewitz v. West of Eng. Ship Owners Mut. Prot. & Indem. Ass'n (Lux.), 62 F.3d 1356, 1366 (11th Cir. 1995)); see also Taylor v. Spaziano, 251 Fed.Appx. 616, 619 (11th Cir. 2007) (citing Morewitz, 62 F.3d at 1366). By contrast, dismissal without prejudice for failure to prosecute is not an adjudication on the merits, and, therefore, courts are afforded greater discretion in dismissing claims in this manner. Taylor, 251 Fed.Appx. at 619; see also Coleman, 433 Fed.Appx. at 719; Brown, 205 Fed.Appx. at 802-03.

         While the Court exercises its discretion to dismiss cases with caution, dismissal of this action without prejudice is warranted. See Coleman, 433 Fed.Appx. at 719 (upholding dismissal without prejudice for failure to prosecute, where plaintiff did not respond to court order to supply defendant's current address for purpose of service); Brown, 205 Fed.Appx. at 802-03 (upholding dismissal without prejudice for failure to prosecute, where plaintiff failed to follow court order to file amended complaint and court had informed plaintiff that noncompliance could lead to dismissal). Coleman has not followed this Court's Order, despite being given ample notice of the consequences of his failure to follow the Court's Order. In fact, Coleman has not made any effort to comply with this Order or to otherwise prosecute this case. Thus, the Court should DISMISS without prejudice Coleman's § 2241 Petition. Doc. 3.

         II. Leave to Appeal in Forma Pauperis

         The Court should also deny Coleman leave to appeal in forma pauperis. Though Coleman has not yet filed a notice of appeal, it would be appropriate to address that issue in the Court's order of dismissal. See Fed. R. App. P. 24(a)(3) (trial court may certify that appeal 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, either before or after the notice of appeal is filed, 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. County 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). An in forma pauperis action is frivolous and 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).

         Based on the above analysis of Coleman's failure to follow this Court's Order, there are no non-frivolous issues to raise on appeal, and an appeal would not be taken in good faith. Thus, the ...


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