CIVIL ACTION NO.: 5:17-cv-80
ORDER and MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
This matter comes before the Court upon Petitioner Dieufete D'Jeff Coriolan's ("Coriolan") failure to comply with the Court's Order of June 15, 2017, (doc. 6), and his failure to prosecute this action. For the following reasons, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS Coriolan's action without prejudice for failure to follow the Court's directive and failure to prosecute. I further RECOMMEND that the Court DENY Coriolan leave to appeal in forma pauperis.
A "district court can only dismiss an action on its own motion as long as the procedure employed is fair. . . . To employ fair procedure, a district court must generally provide the plaintiff with notice of its intent to dismiss or an opportunity to respond." Tazoe v. Airbus S.A.S., 631 F.3d 1321, 1336 (11th Cir. 2011) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). A Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation ("R&R") provides such notice and opportunity to respond. See Shivers v. Int'l Bhd. Of Elec. Workers Local Union, 349, 262 F. App'x 121, 125, 127 (11th Cir. 2008) (indicating that a party has notice of a district court's intent to sua sponte grant summary judgment where a magistrate judge issues a report recommending the sua sponte granting of summary judgment); Anderson v. Dunbar Armored, Inc., 678 F. Supp. 2d 1280, 1296 (N.D. Ga. 2009) (noting that R&R served as notice that claims would be sua sponte dismissed). This Report and Recommendation constitutes fair notice to Plaintiff that his suit is barred and due to be dismissed. As indicated below, Plaintiff will have the opportunity to present his objections to this finding, and the District Court will review de novo properly submitted objections. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72; see also Glover v. Williams, No. 1:12-CV-3562-TWT-JFK, 2012 WL 5930633, at *1 (N.D. Ga. Oct. 18, 2012) (explaining that magistrate judge's report and recommendation constituted adequate notice and petitioner's opportunity to file objections provided a reasonable opportunity to respond).
On May 30, 2017, Coriolan, a detainee previously housed at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") Facility, in Folkston, Georgia filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. 1.) The Court directed service on June 15, 2017, and ordered Coriolan to "immediately inform this Court in writing of any change of address. Failure to do so will result in dismissal of this case, without prejudice." (Doc. 6, p. 2.) However, on June 22, 2017, the Court's Order was returned as undeliverable because Coriolan was released from the ICE Facility. (Doc. 8.) Coriolan has not made any filing in this case since filing his Petition on May 30, 2017, (doc. 1), and has not notified the Court of any change of his address.
The Court must now determine how to address Coriolan's failure to comply with this Court's Order and failure to prosecute this action. For the reasons set forth below, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS Coriolan's Petition and DENY him leave to appeal in forma pauperis.
I. Dismissal for Failure to Prosecute and Follow this Court's Orders
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); Coleman v. St. Lucie Cty. Jail, 433 F. App'x 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 F. App'x 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 F. App'x 802, 802 (11th Cir. 2006) (quoting Jones v. Graham, 709 F.2d 1457, 1458 (11th Cir. 1983)).
In Wabash, the Court held that a trial court may dismiss an action for failure to prosecute "even without affording notice of its intention to do so." 370 U.S. at 633. Nonetheless, in the case at hand, the Court advised Plaintiff that his failure to notify the Court of any change of address would result in dismissal. --------
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 F. App'x 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 F. App'x 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 F. App'x at 619; see also Coleman, 433 F. App'x at 719; Brown, 205 F. App'x 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 F. App'x 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 F. App'x 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). With Coriolan having failed to update the Court with his current address, the Court has no means by which it can communicate with him. Thus, the Court is unable to move forward with this case. Furthermore, Coriolan has failed to diligently prosecute his claims—he has not taken any action in this case since filing his Petition.
Thus, the Court should DISMISS Coriolan's Section 2241 Petition, (doc. 1), without prejudice, and CLOSE this case for failure to prosecute and failure to follow this Court's Order. II. Leave to Appeal in Forma Pauperis
The Court should also deny Coriolan leave to appeal in forma pauperis. Though Coriolan has, of course, 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. 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). Or, 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).
Based on the above analysis of Coriolan's failure to follow this Court's directives and failure to prosecute, 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 Coriolan in forma pauperis status on appeal.
For the above-stated reasons, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS this action, without prejudice, and DIRECT the Clerk of Court to enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal and to CLOSE this case. I further recommend that the Court DENY Coriolan leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.
The Court ORDERS any party seeking to object to this Report and Recommendation to file specific written objections within fourteen (14) days of the date on which this Report and Recommendation is entered. Any objections asserting that the undersigned failed to address any contention raised in the pleading must also be included. Failure to do so will bar any later challenge or review of the factual findings or legal conclusions herein. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985). Objections to a Report and Recommendation are not the proper vehicle to raise issues and arguments not previously brought before the Court. A copy of the objections must be served upon all other parties to the action. Upon receipt of objections meeting the specificity requirement set out above, a United States District Judge will make a de novo determination of those portions of the report, proposed findings, or recommendation to which objection is made and may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made herein. Objections not meeting the specificity requirement set out above will not be considered by the District Judge. The Court DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to serve a copy of this Report and Recommendation upon Coriolan and Respondent.
SO ORDERED and REPORTED and RECOMMENDED, this 11th day of July, 2017.
R. STAN BAKER
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA