Byrd v. Moore, No. 3:03-CV-26.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
Writing for the CourtMullen
Citation252 F.Supp.2d 293
PartiesJames E. BYRD, et al., Petitioners, v. G.O. MOORE, Community Corrections Manager, Raleigh Office, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Respondent.
Decision Date06 March 2003
Docket NumberNo. 3:03-CV-26.
252 F.Supp.2d 293
James E. BYRD, et al., Petitioners,
v.
G.O. MOORE, Community Corrections Manager, Raleigh Office, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Respondent.
No. 3:03-CV-26.
United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division.
March 6, 2003.

Page 294

COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

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Robert A. Blake, Jr., Charlotte, NC, Peter Goldberger, Law Offices of Alan Ellis, Ardmore, PA, Calvin E. Murphy, Murphy & Chapman, Charlotte, NC, Peter Crane Anderson, C. Christopher Clark, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, Charlotte, NC, James Gronquist, Nixon, Park & Gronquist, PLLC, Charlotte, NC, for Petitioners.

ORDER

MULLEN, Chief Judge.


THIS MATTER comes before the Court upon Petitioners' motion for preliminary injunction and oral motion for stay. The Parties provided the Court with written argument and the Court held a hearing on February 20, 2003. At the hearing, the Court imposed a stay pursuant to its inherent

Page 296

powers 1 and, if a stay is inappropriate, a preliminary injunction. The Court, essentially, has entered both a stay, to the extent one is permissible, and a preliminary injunction.

Petitioners ultimately seek a writ of habeas corpus or relief in the nature of mandamus. Petitioners preliminary requested a temporary restraining order during the pendency of their application. The Court entered a temporary restraining order with notice, holding for the purposes of the T.R.O. that the balance of harms tilted decidedly in favor of the Petitioners and that they had shown that there were questions going to the merits of the case so serious, substantial, difficult and doubtful as to make them grounds for further litigation. Further, based on the Respondent's failure to brief a number of crucial legal issues, as well as the strength of several of Petitioners' arguments, the Court concluded that the Petitioners had a likelihood of success on the merits.

I. BACKGROUND

The following are facts to which the parties have stipulated for the purposes of the preliminary injunction and stay proceeding held February 20, 2003.

Petitioner James Byrd pled guilty to one count of mail fraud. On January 25, 2002 he was sentenced "to be imprisoned for a term of fifteen (15) months w/ work release." The Court additionally recommended that he be designated by the Bureau of Prisons to the McLeod Center, a Community Confinement Center (CCC). He reported to the McLeod Center on July 1, 2002 for a sentence that is scheduled to be completed on June 19, 2003.

Petitioner Ebony Guinn pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threat or violence. On March 6, 2002, after receiving a downward departure from a level 17 to a level 12, she was sentenced "to be imprisoned for a term of fifteen (15) months." The Court recommended that she be designated to the McLeod Center. After designation, she reported to the McLeod Center on April 24, 2002 for a sentence that is scheduled to be completed on May 22, 2003.

Petitioner Joseph O'Brien pled guilty to one count of bank fraud. He was sentenced, by Judge Yohn of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, to a term of imprisonment totaling 24 months. The Court also recommended that "when eligible," he "be designated to the Federal Halfway House at McLeod Center in Charlotte, North Carolina." He was so designated and reported on May 31, 2002 for a sentence scheduled to be completed on February 24, 2004.

Petitioner Jaron Sturdivant pled guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was sentenced "to be imprisoned for a total term of fifteen (15) months." The Court recommended that he be designated to the McLeod Ceneter. He was so designated and began serving his imprisonment on July 29, 2002, and his sentence is scheduled to be completed on June 27, 2003.

On December 13, 2002, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) of the United States Department of Justice rendered an opinion to the U.S. Deputy Attorney General concerning the legality of the Bureau of Prisons' designation of Community Confinement Centers as the place for the service of certain offenders' sentences of imprisonment

Page 297

The OLC's opinion concluded that the Bureau of Prisons' long practice of so designating such offenders is "unlawful." On December 23, 2002 Respondent notified each of the petitioners in writing that they would be redesignated within 45 days, but not less than 30 days, to another federal correctional institution. On January 10, 2003 Respondent informed each petitioner in writing that he or she had been redesignated to a federal prison camp and each petitioner was ordered to report on or about January 27, 2003. Based on submissions from both parties, it is clear that redesignation as a result of the change in Bureau of Prisons policy applied only to those prisoners who had more than 150 days remaining on their sentence on December 16, 2002.

All four Petitioners are gainfully employed, and, with the exception of Petitioner Byrd, contribute to the support of their respective families.

II. HABEAS CORPUS STAY STADARD AND APPLICATION

There is some question, on the part of Respondent, whether the relief granted in this order is a stay or a preliminary injunction. Title 28 United States Code section 2251 authorizes a Court before which a habeas corpus petition is pending to stay any proceeding involving the person detained. It specifically refers to a "person detained in any State court or by or under the authority of any State." The Court believes that it has the inherent power to stay a federal proceeding to allow the Court to "dispose of the matter as law and justice require." 28 U.S.C. § 2243. As the Court has been unable to come to such a lawful and just result summarily as anticipated by § 2243 due to the complexity of the legal issues involved, the Court believes it must stay Petitioners' redesignation pending an expedited opportunity to address all of Petitioners' claims on the merits.

The standard for granting a stay under § 2251 in a non-capital case is the same as the standard for granting preliminary injunctive relief. Gilliam v. Foster, 61 F.3d 1070, 1078 (4th Cir.1995). Looking to § 2251 as a guide, the Court determines that the proper standard for staying a proceeding involving a federal prisoner should be the same. Such a stay is not the same as an injunction. It is derived from a separate and distinct power of the District Court. Here, the Court believes it is necessary, based on the complexity of the legal issues and the necessity to conduct some fact discovery, to stay the Bureau of Prisons' redesignation of Petitioners pending a full and final adjudication of the merits of Petitioners' application. The balance of harms analysis in the following section of this Order applies equally to the habeas corpus stay and the preliminary injunction.

III. PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION STANDARD AND APPLICATION

A. Standard

The standard for issuance of preliminary injunctive relief or a stay in a habeas corpus petition is the "balance of hardship" test stated in Blackwelder Furniture Co. v. Seilig Mfg. Co., 550 F.2d 189 (4th Cir.1977); Gilliam, 61 F.3d at 1078; see also Rum Creek Coal Sales, Inc. v. Caperton, 926 F.2d 353 (4th Cir.1991); Telvest, Inc. v. Bradshaw, 618 F.2d 1029, 1032 (4th Cir.1980). Before such relief is granted, the Court must consider four factors the first two of which are the most critical:

1) the likelihood of irreparable harm to the Petitioners without the temporary injunction;

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2) the likelihood of harm to the Respondent with the injunction;

3) the Petitioners' likelihood of success on the merits;

4) the public interest.

If, after balancing the first two factors, the balance "tips decidedly" in favor of the Petitioners, a preliminary injunction will be granted if they have "raised questions going to the merits so serious, substantial, difficult and doubtful, as to make them fair ground for litigation and thus for more deliberate investigation." Blackwelder, 550 F.2d at 195. In other words, if the harm to the Petitioners greatly outweighs the harm to the Respondent, then enough of a showing has been made to permit the issuance of an injunction. But, as the harm to the Petitioners decreases, when balanced against the harm to the Respondent, the likelihood of success on the merits becomes more important. Telvest, 618 F.2d at 1032-33. Likelihood of success on the merits alone, however, without any showing of a risk of irreparable harm, is not sufficient to warrant the issuance of a preliminary injunction since Petitioners must always show some risk of probable irreparable injury. Blackwelder, 550 F.2d at 196. Therefore, as the balance of the first two factors tips away from the Petitioners, a stronger showing on the merits is required. Telvest, 618 F.2d 1029.

B. Balance of Harms

In applying the Blackwelder analysis to the present case, the Court must first examine the relative harms of the parties. In both his written argument and at the hearing, the Respondent conceded that Petitioner's exposure to irreparable harm is far greater than any harm the Respondent might suffer as a result of the stay or preliminary injunction. In fact, in his written submission, Respondent argues that Petitioners fail to satisfy the Blackwelder test not because the Respondent will suffer greater or even comparable harm, but rather because "it is not legally possible for petitioners to succeed on the merits of their underlying claims." Respondent has surrendered the field in the balance of harms, and relies solely on his contention that Petitioners' legal arguments are wholly without merit.

Despite its belief the Respondent has conceded that Petitioners' probability of irreparable harm far exceeds that of Respondent, the Court holds, for the purposes of the stay and preliminary injunction, that Petitioners have made a "strong showing" of a very real probability of irreparable harm without the stay...

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23 practice notes
  • Palomino v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, No. Civ.A. H-05-2659.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • December 30, 2005
    ...She fails to establish that the BOP's decision to terminate the program has disrupted any settled expectations. Cf. Byrd v. Moore, 252 F.Supp.2d 293 (W.D.N.C.2003) (addressing the settled expectations of petitioners already lived in a halfway house who challenged the BOP's decision to cance......
  • Colton v. Ashcroft, No. CIV.A. 03-554-JBC.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Kentucky
    • January 15, 2004
    ...2003); Ferguson v. Ashcroft, 248 F.Supp.2d 547 (M.D.La.2003); Cato v. Menifee, 2003 WL 22725524 (S.D.N.Y. 2003); Byrd v. Moore, 252 F.Supp.2d 293 (W.D.N.C.2003); Iacaboni v. United States, 251 F.Supp.2d 1015 (D.Mass.2003); Mallory v. United States, Civ. A. 03-10220, 2003 WL 1563764 (D.Mass.......
  • Monahan v. Winn, No. CIV.03-40075-NG, CIV.03-10308-NG, CRIM.01-10385-NG, CIV.03-40139-NG.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • August 12, 2003
    ...v. United States, 265 F.Supp.2d 973 (E.D.Wis.2003); Tipton v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 262 F.Supp.2d 633 (D.Md. 2003); Byrd v. Moore, 252 F.Supp.2d 293 (W.D.N.C.2003); United States v. Serpa, 251 F.Supp.2d 988 (D.Mass.2003) (Young, C.J.); Ferguson v. Ashcroft, 248 F.Supp.2d 547 (M.D.La.20......
  • Monahan v. Winn, Civ. No. 03-40075-NG.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • August 12, 2003
    ...at 2003 WL 21262866 (E.D. Wis. May 19, 2003); Tipton v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 262 F. Supp. 2d 633 (D. Md. 2003); Byrd v. Moore, 252 F. Supp. 2d 293 (D. Mass. 2003); United States v. Serpa, 251 F. Supp. 2d 988 (D. Mass. 2003) (Young, C.J.); Ferguson v. Ashcroft, 248 F. Supp. 2d 547 (M.D......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
23 cases
  • Palomino v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, No. Civ.A. H-05-2659.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • December 30, 2005
    ...She fails to establish that the BOP's decision to terminate the program has disrupted any settled expectations. Cf. Byrd v. Moore, 252 F.Supp.2d 293 (W.D.N.C.2003) (addressing the settled expectations of petitioners already lived in a halfway house who challenged the BOP's decision to cance......
  • Colton v. Ashcroft, No. CIV.A. 03-554-JBC.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Kentucky
    • January 15, 2004
    ...2003); Ferguson v. Ashcroft, 248 F.Supp.2d 547 (M.D.La.2003); Cato v. Menifee, 2003 WL 22725524 (S.D.N.Y. 2003); Byrd v. Moore, 252 F.Supp.2d 293 (W.D.N.C.2003); Iacaboni v. United States, 251 F.Supp.2d 1015 (D.Mass.2003); Mallory v. United States, Civ. A. 03-10220, 2003 WL 1563764 (D.Mass.......
  • Monahan v. Winn, No. CIV.03-40075-NG, CIV.03-10308-NG, CRIM.01-10385-NG, CIV.03-40139-NG.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • August 12, 2003
    ...v. United States, 265 F.Supp.2d 973 (E.D.Wis.2003); Tipton v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 262 F.Supp.2d 633 (D.Md. 2003); Byrd v. Moore, 252 F.Supp.2d 293 (W.D.N.C.2003); United States v. Serpa, 251 F.Supp.2d 988 (D.Mass.2003) (Young, C.J.); Ferguson v. Ashcroft, 248 F.Supp.2d 547 (M.D.La.20......
  • Monahan v. Winn, Civ. No. 03-40075-NG.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • August 12, 2003
    ...at 2003 WL 21262866 (E.D. Wis. May 19, 2003); Tipton v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 262 F. Supp. 2d 633 (D. Md. 2003); Byrd v. Moore, 252 F. Supp. 2d 293 (D. Mass. 2003); United States v. Serpa, 251 F. Supp. 2d 988 (D. Mass. 2003) (Young, C.J.); Ferguson v. Ashcroft, 248 F. Supp. 2d 547 (M.D......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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