UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
July 6, 2012
CHRISTOPHER DAVID MOORE,
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Percy Andersonunited States District Judge
ORDER DISMISSING PETITION ) WITHOUT PREJUDICE
On January 5, 2012, Petitioner filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2241 habeas petition in this district ("Petition"). Through four claims, Petitioner contends that -- in connection with his 88-month sentence imposed in 1995*fn1 -- he was wrongly denied early release in April 1997, and was wrongly required to reapply for early release in 2009, following the implementation of new rules. (Petition at 3-4.) On January 9, 2012, United States Magistrate Judge Margaret A. Nagle issued an Order requiring Respondent to file an Answer to the Petition. The January 9 Order also permitted Petitioner to file a Reply within 60 days of the service date of the Answer.
On March 6, 2012, Respondent filed and served an Answer to the Complaint. The evidence submitted with the Answer shows, inter alia, that: (1) Petitioner did not receive credit toward the 1995 Sentence while he was on escape status from July 8, 1997, through August 26, 2007; (2) Petitioner completed, and was released from, the 1995 Sentence on January 29, 2012; (3) Petitioner commenced serving the 2008 Sentence on January 29, 2012, with a then-projected release date of March 1, 2013; and (4) as of February 3, 2012, Petitioner has been found eligible for early release. (See Answer, appended Declaration of Sarah Schuh and attachments.) In addition, pursuant to Rule 201 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, the Court has taken judicial notice of the Inmate Locator function available through the Federal Bureau of Prisons website (http://www.bop.gov), which shows that Petitioner's release date is September 21, 2012.
Petitioner's deadline for filing a Reply to the Answer passed on May 5, 2012. Petitioner neither filed a Reply nor requested an extension of time to do so. On May 24, 2012, Magistrate Judge Nagle issued an Order To Show Cause Re: Dismissal For Mootness ("OSC"). The OSC advised Petitioner why the Petition appears to be moot and, therefore, is subject to dismissal. The OSC directed Petitioner to file a response, by no later than June 21, 2012, stating whether he concedes or disputes that this case is moot. The OSC explicitly "cautioned" Petitioner "that a failure to timely respond to this Order shall be deemed to constitute a concession that the Petition is moot and should be dismissed." (OSC at 3.)
The deadline for responding to the OSC has passed, and Petitioner has not responded or requested additional time to do so, notwithstanding the warning in the OSC that his failure to respond would be deemed a concession that the Petition is moot and should be dismissed. Indeed, since filing the Petition, he has had no contact with the Court and, thus, does not appear to have any interest in pursuing this action.
Under Article III, § 2 of the United States Constitution, federal courts are barred from hearing matters, including habeas petitions, in the absence of a live case or controversy. See, e.g., Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 7, 118 S. Ct. 978, 983 (1998); Deakins v. Monaghan, 484 U.S. 193, 199, 108 S. Ct. 523, 528 (1988). A case becomes moot when it no longer satisfies the case or controversy requirement. Spencer, 523 U.S. at 7, 118 S. Ct. at 983. The case or controversy requirement demands that the parties continue to have a personal stake in the outcome of a federal lawsuit through all stages of the judicial proceedings. Id. "This means that, throughout the litigation, the plaintiff 'must have suffered, or be threatened with, an actual injury traceable to the defendant and likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision.'" Id. (quoting Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 477, 110 S. Ct. 1249, 1253 (1990)).
"If an event occurs that prevents the court from granting effective relief, the claim is moot and must be dismissed." American Rivers v. Nat'l Marine Fisheries Service, 126 F.3d 1118, 1123 (9th Cir. 1997); see also Church of Scientology of Cal. v. United States, 506 U.S. 9, 12, 113 S. Ct. 447, 449 (1992)(case becomes moot if events following case filing make it impossible for the court to grant any meaningful relief). "The question is whether there can be any effective relief." Cantrell v. City of Long Beach, 241 F.3d 674, 678 (9th Cir. 2001); see also NASD Dispute Resolution, Inc. v. Judicial Council of State of Calif., 488 F.3d 1065. 1067 (9th Cir. 2007)(whether a case or controversy remains depends on whether the court can give the litigant "'any effective relief in the event that it decides the matter on its merits in his favor'")(citation omitted).
In the specific context of habeas petitions, a habeas petition is moot when a petitioner's claim for relief cannot be redressed by the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. See Spencer, 523 U.S. at 7, 118 S. Ct. at 983; Burnett v. Lampert, 432 F.3d 996, 1000-01 (9th Cir. 2005). The case or controversy requirement warrants a finding of mootness if:
(1) the petitioner has received the relief requested in the petition; or
(2) the court is unable to provide the petitioner with the relief sought. Munoz v. Rowland, 104 F.3d 1096, 1097-98 (9th Cir. 1997).
As the Supreme Court observed in Spencer: "[M]ootness, however it may have come about, simply deprives us of our power to act; there is nothing for us to remedy, even if we were disposed to do so. We are not in the business of pronouncing that past actions which have no demonstrable continuing effect were right or wrong." 523 U.S. at 18, 118 S. Ct. at 988. That observation is apt here. Petitioner's complaints about his failure to receive early release in connection with the 1995 Sentence have been mooted by the completion of that sentence and Petitioner's release from that sentence. There is no habeas relief that this Court can issue with respect to the 1995 Sentence. In addition, Petitioner has been found eligible for early release with respect to his present 2008 Sentence, and it appears that he will be released many months ahead of his previously-scheduled release date of March 1, 2013. As Petitioner does not allege any collateral consequences, and none are apparent,*fn2 "[i]t is clear that the direct consequences of the action challenged here can no longer be remedied in habeas." Cox v. McCarthy, 829 F.2d 800, 803 (9th Cir. 1987). No case or controversy exists at this time, and this action is moot.
For the foregoing reasons, the dismissal of this action due to mootness is warranted. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that: the Petition is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE on the ground of mootness; and Judgment shall be entered dismissing this action without prejudice.
PRESENTED BY: MARGARET A. NAGLE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE