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Anthony John Collins v. Linda Sanders

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


January 3, 2013

ANTHONY JOHN COLLINS,
PETITIONER,
v.
LINDA SANDERS, WARDEN,
RESPONDENT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles F. Eick United States Magistrate Judge

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

This Report and Recommendation is submitted to the Honorable Andrew Guilford, United States District Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 636 and General Order 05-07 of the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

PROCEEDINGS

On June 26, 2012, Petitioner filed a document entitled "Appeal of Denial of Administrative Remedy and Notice of BOP Action that Amounts to Exhaustion of Inmate Collins['] Administrative Remedy; Petition for 28 U.S.C. §2241 Pursuant to Habeas Corpus Statutes §2241 - §2255"

("Petition"). The Petition essentially alleged that the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") violated Petitioner's rights by imposing and/or increasing payments for court-imposed fines and felony assessments pursuant to the BOP's Inmate Financial Responsibility Program ("IFRP").*fn1

On August 30, 2012, Respondent filed "Respondent's Motion to Dismiss Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241" ("Motion to Dismiss"), accompanied by the Declaration of Sarah Schuh ("Schuh Dec.") and exhibits, which were incomplete. On September 4, 2012, Respondent filed "Correct Exhibits to Respondent's Motion to Dismiss Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2241." On September 26, 2012, Petitioner filed an Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss.

On October 28, 2012, the Court issued an Order dismissing without prejudice any claim that the Oklahoma District Court imposed fines and assessments without determining Petitioner's ability to pay, but otherwise denying the Motion to Dismiss. On November 28, 2012, Respondent filed an Answer, accompanied by the "Supplemental Declaration of Sarah Schuh" ("Schuh Supp. Dec.") and exhibits. On December 13, 2012, Petitioner filed "Petitioner's Response to Respondent's Answer, etc." ("Petitioner's Response").

BACKGROUND

On November 17, 2006, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma sentenced Petitioner to prison terms in two drug trafficking cases, case numbers 06-CR-0033 and 06-CR-0067 (Petition, Ex. pp. 13-18;*fn2 Schuh Dec., Exs. A, B; see United States v. Collins, 364 Fed. App'x 496, 497 (10th Cir. 2010)). The court ordered Petitioner to pay a $100 felony assessment and a $1500 fine in both cases (Petition, Ex. pp. 13-18; Schuh Dec. Exs. A, B; see United States v. Collins, 364 Fed. App'x at 497).*fn3 The court included "Special instructions regarding the payment of criminal monetary penalties," stating, inter alia: "Any criminal monetary penalty is due in full immediately, but payable on a schedule of the greater of $25 quarterly or 50% of income pursuant to the Federal Bureau of Prisons' Inmate Financial Responsibility Program while in prison." (Respondent's Ex. B). ///

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the judgment in case number 06-CR-0033. See United States v. Collins, 267 Fed. App'x 744 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 553 U.S. 1046 (2008). Petitioner did not appeal the conviction in case number 06-CR-0067, but did file in that case a motion to vacate the sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 2255. The Oklahoma District Court denied the motion as untimely. The Tenth Circuit affirmed the denial. See United States v. Collins, 364 Fed. App'x at 497.

Petitioner participated in the IFRP from September 14, 2009, to June 5, 2012 (Supp. Schuh Dec., Ex. A). Sometime in June 2012, prison officials reportedly calculated Petitioner's IFRP payment as $30 per month (Petition Ex. p. 10). On May 30, 2012, Petitioner stated in an "Inmate Request to Staff" that he was being required to pay a fine greater than that authorized by the Mandatory Victim's Restitution Act of 1996, 18 U.S.C. § 3663A et seq. (id.). Petitioner requested to pay only $25 quarterly (id.). On June 4, 2012, Petitioner wrote another "Inmate Request to Staff," requesting that the BOP "cease and desist the unconstitutional collection through the IFRP Program as it runs afoul of Ninth Circuit FRP Review Jurisprudence" (Petition Ex., p. 11).

On June 5, 2012, Petitioner allegedly requested placement in "FRP REFUSE STATUS" (Petition Ex., p. 10). A correctional counselor responded in writing: "You are to follow the conditions of the FRP Program if you chose [sic] to participate. Based on your request to cease and desist the FRP Program, you have been placed on FRP REFUSE STATUS" (Petition Ex., p. 11). On June 6, 2012, a correctional counselor allegedly told Petitioner that Petitioner was required to follow the IFRP Program if Petitioner chose to participate in that program (Petition Ex., p. 10). The correctional counselor allegedly stated that the counselor had contacted the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma to clarify the court's order, and reported that the Oklahoma Court had stated "the inmate is to follow the Prison[']s IFRP" (id.).

On June 18, 2012, Petitioner wrote a formal Administrative Remedy Request, appealing the denial of his "Inmate Request to Staff," and seeking: the discontinuance of all present and contemplated "punitive actions"; the reversal of a move to "punitive housing"; and protection from any retaliation (Schuh Dec., Ex. E). The acting Warden denied the appeal on August 3, 2010 (id.). The Warden stated that Petitioner's placement in the IFRP and the imposition of scheduled payments as determined by the unit team were "appropriate and will not be adjusted" (id.). The Warden also stated that the sanctions imposed as a result of Petitioner's failure to pay his financial obligation were "appropriate and will not be changed" (id.). Petitioner apparently did not pursue any further appeal.

DISCUSSION

Respondent contends the action is moot because Petitioner has now resumed participation in the IFRP under an agreement to pay $25 per quarter. Petitioner does not controvert Respondent's evidence that, on November 14, 2012, Petitioner resumed participation in the IFRP pursuant to an agreement requiring Petitioner to pay the sum of $25 per quarter (Supp. Schuh Dec., ¶ 5 & Ex. B; see Petitioner's Response, p. 1). Nevertheless, Petitioner opposes the dismissal of the Petition.

A federal court's jurisdiction is limited to cases or controversies. U.S. Const. art. III, § 2; see also Iron Arrow Honor Society v. Heckler, 464 U.S. 67, 70 (1983) (discussing same). "[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 Calif. v. United States, 506 U.S. 9, 12 (1992) (quoting Mills v. Green, 159 U.S. 651, 653 (1895)). "If an event occurs that prevents the court from granting effective relief, the claim is moot and must be dismissed." American Rivers v. National Marine Fisheries Service, 126 F.3d 1118, 1123 (9th Cir. 1997) (citation omitted); see also Church of Scientology of Calif. v. United States, 506 U.S. at 12 (a case becomes moot when it is "impossible for the court to grant 'any effectual relief whatever' to a prevailing party," quoting Mills, 159 U.S. at 653). Where an agency has performed the action sought in the litigation, a federal court "lacks the ability to grant effective relief, and the claim is moot." Rosemere Neighborhood Ass'n v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 581 F.3d 1169, 1173 (9th Cir. 2009) (citation and internal quotations omitted).

Here, Petitioner has obtained the precise relief sought in the Petition, i.e., participation in the IFRP with a payment plan calling for the payment of $25 per quarter (unless his prison income rises sufficiently to trigger a payment of at least 50% of that income). Therefore, the Petition is moot. See Calvert v. Sanders, 2012 WL 1959572, at *3 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 26, 2012), adopted, 2012 WL 1952832 (C.D. Cal. May 24, 2012) ("having obtained removal from IFRP Refuse status, petitioner no longer has a personal stake in his habeas claim; he has already received the effective relief he sought with the Petition") (citation omitted); Martin v. Pearson, 2010 WL 6560741, at *3 (S.D. Miss. Mar. 22, 2010), adopted, 2011 WL 1578443 (S.D. Miss. Apr. 27, 2011) ("since Petitioner is now participating in the IFRP, the restrictions of which he complains no longer apply to him"; habeas claim moot); Udogwu v. Zickefoose, 2007 WL 708781, at *2 (D. Conn.

Feb. 27, 2007) (action mooted where BOP readjusted inmate's IFRP payments to the level requested by inmate).*fn4 The Petition should be denied and dismissed as moot.*fn5

RECOMMENDATION

For the foregoing reasons, IT IS RECOMMENDED that the Court issue an Order: (1) accepting and adopting this Report and Recommendation; and (2) denying and dismissing the Petition without prejudice as moot.

NOTICE

Reports and Recommendations are not appealable to the Court of Appeals, but may be subject to the right of any party to file objections as provided in the Local Rules Governing the Duties of Magistrate Judges and review by the District Judge whose initials appear in the docket number. No notice of appeal pursuant to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure should be filed until entry of the judgment of the District Court.


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