Penland v. Mabus, Civil Action No.: 09-1417 (RMU).

CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
Writing for the CourtRicardo M. Urbina
Citation643 F.Supp.2d 14
PartiesSyneeda L. PENLAND, Petitioner, v. Raymond E. MABUS, Secretary of the Navy, Respondent. Syneeda L. Penland, Petitioner, v. Raymond E. Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, Respondent.
Decision Date07 August 2009
Docket NumberCivil Action No.: 09-1418(RMU).,Civil Action No.: 09-1417 (RMU).
643 F.Supp.2d 14
Syneeda L. PENLAND, Petitioner,
v.
Raymond E. MABUS, Secretary of the Navy, Respondent.
Syneeda L. Penland, Petitioner,
v.
Raymond E. Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, Respondent.
Civil Action No.: 09-1417 (RMU).
Civil Action No.: 09-1418(RMU).
United States District Court, District of Columbia.
August 7, 2009.

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COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

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Esthus Christopher Amos, Columbia, MD, for Petitioner.

MEMORANDUM OPINION
DENYING THE PETITIONER'S MOTIONS FOR A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
Re Document No.: 2
Re Document No.: 3

RICARDO M. URBINA, District Judge.


I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the court on the petitioner's motions for a preliminary injunction. The petitioner, a former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy, commenced these consolidated actions protesting her discharge from the Navy following a general court-martial. The petitioner seeks a preliminary injunction requiring the Navy to restore her to active duty status pending the outcome of the litigation on the merits. Because the petitioner has demonstrated neither a likelihood of success on the merits nor irreparable harm absent interim injunctive relief, the court denies the petitioner's motions.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In May 2008, the petitioner was convicted in a general court-martial of four violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice ("UCMJ"): failure to obey a lawful order, making a false official statement, conduct unbecoming an officer and adultery. Petr's Mot. at 2; Resp.'s Opp'n at 1.1 Specifically, the petitioner was convicted

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of having a sexual relationship with a married subordinate officer, of harassing the subordinate officer's spouse (an active duty enlisted sailor) and of lying about her conduct. Petr's Mot. at 2; Resp.'s Opp'n at 1. The petitioner maintains that the prosecution constituted reprisal for complaints that she made against her superior officer regarding financial improprieties within her command. Petr's Mot. at 2. As a result of her conviction, the petitioner was sentenced to serve sixty days in confinement and was fined $9,000. Petr's Habeas Pet. at 2; Resp.'s Opp'n at 2. The petitioner ultimately served forty-five days in confinement and was released. Petr's Habeas Pet. at 2.

The petitioner appealed her conviction to the General Courts-Martial Convening Authority ("GMCA"), citing numerous alleged errors that marred the court-martial proceedings, including unlawful command influence, ineffective assistance of counsel and various procedural and evidentiary errors. Id.; Resp.'s Opp'n at 3. The GMCA declined to reverse the petitioner's conviction. Petr's Habeas Pet. at 2; Resp.'s Opp'n at 4. The matter was then referred to the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy ("JAG"), which investigated the petitioner's allegations and upheld the conviction in February 2009. Petr's Habeas Pet. at 2-3; Resp.'s Opp'n at 4.

Following the court-martial conviction, the Navy ordered the petitioner to show cause before a three-member board of inquiry ("BOI") why she should not be separated from the Navy because of her conviction and allegedly substandard performance. Petr's Mot. at 2; Resp.'s Opp'n at 2. The BOI concluded that the petitioner should be separated from the Navy. Petr's Mot. at 2; Resp.'s Opp'n at 2. On June 29, 2009, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs signed the petitioner's discharge order, Resp.'s Opp'n at 2, and the petitioner's separation from the Navy was scheduled to take effect on July 31, 2009, Petr's Mot. at 1.

On July 29, 2009, the petitioner commenced these actions. In Civil Action No. 09-1417, the petitioner has filed a petition for a writ of mandamus, alleging that the petitioner's separation violated Navy regulations governing the discharge of servicemen requiring medical attention.2 See generally Petr's Mandamus Pet. The petitioner requests that the court "enter a Writ of Mandamus ordering Secretary of the Navy Raymond E. Mabus, Jr. to overturn his earlier decision . . . that petitioner be separated from active duty . . . on July 31, 2009." Id. at 9.

In Civil Action No. 09-1418, the petitioner has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, citing various procedural and substantive errors that occurred during her court martial proceedings.3 See generally Petr's Habeas Pet. The petitioner "moves this Court to grant her petition for Habeas Corpus relief by dismissing all four of her criminal convictions, overturning the verdict of the administrative separation board, and ordering [Secretary Mabus] to retain [her] on active duty." Id. at 29.

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On the same day she filed these petitions, the petitioner filed motions in both actions for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order. See generally Petr's Mot.; Petr's 1418 Mot. The court set an expedited briefing schedule and, on July 30, 2009, denied the petitioner's requests for a temporary restraining order. See Minute Order (July 30, 2009). The court now turns to the petitioner's motions for preliminary injunctive relief.

III. ANALYSIS
A. Legal Standard for a Preliminary Injunction

This court may issue interim injunctive relief only when the movant demonstrates "[1] that he is likely to succeed on the merits, [2] that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, [3] that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and [4] that an injunction is in the public interest." Winter v. Natural Res. Defense Council, Inc., ___ U.S. ___, 129 S.Ct. 365, 374, 172 L.Ed.2d 249 (2008) (citing Munaf v. Geren, ___ U.S. ___, 128 S.Ct. 2207, 2218-19, 171 L.Ed.2d 1 (2008)). It is particularly important for the movant to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits. Cf. Benten v. Kessler, 505 U.S. 1084, 1085, 112 S.Ct. 2929, 120 L.Ed.2d 926 (1992) (per curiam). Indeed, absent a "substantial indication" of likely success on the merits, "there would be no justification for the court's intrusion into the ordinary processes of administration and judicial review." Am. Bankers Ass'n v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 38 F.Supp.2d 114, 140 (D.D.C.1999) (internal quotation omitted).

The other critical factor in the injunctive relief analysis is irreparable injury. A movant must "demonstrate that irreparable injury is likely in the absence of an injunction." Winter, 129 S.Ct. at 375 (citing Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 103, 103 S.Ct. 1660, 75 L.Ed.2d 675 (1983)). Indeed, if a party fails to make a sufficient showing of irreparable injury, the court may deny the motion for injunctive relief without considering the other factors. CityFed Fin. Corp. v. Office of Thrift Supervision, 58 F.3d 738, 747 (D.C.Cir.1995). Provided the petitioner demonstrates a likelihood of success on the merits and irreparable injury, the court "must balance the competing claims of injury and must consider the effect on each party of the granting or withholding of the requested relief." Amoco Prod. Co. v. Gambell, 480 U.S. 531, 542, 107 S.Ct. 1396, 94 L.Ed.2d 542 (1987). Finally, "courts of equity should pay particular regard for the public consequences in employing the extraordinary remedy of injunction." Weinberger v. Romero-Barcelo, 456 U.S. 305, 312, 102 S.Ct. 1798, 72 L.Ed.2d 91 (1982).

As an extraordinary remedy, courts should grant such relief sparingly. Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972, 117 S.Ct. 1865, 138 L.Ed.2d 162 (1997). The Supreme Court has observed "that a preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy, one that should not be granted unless the movant, by a clear showing, carries the burden of persuasion." Id. Therefore, although the trial court has the discretion to issue or deny a preliminary injunction, it is not a form of relief granted lightly. In addition, any injunction that the court issues must be carefully circumscribed and "tailored to remedy the harm shown." Nat'l Treasury Employees Union v. Yeutter, 918 F.2d 968, 977 (D.C.Cir.1990).

B. The Court Denies the Petitioner's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction
1. The Petitioner Has Failed to Demonstrate a Likelihood of Success on the Merits

The petitioner asserts that she is likely to succeed on her petition for a writ of

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mandamus because the Navy "failed to adhere to its own very explicit regulations about how it deals with seriously ill patients awaiting discharge for other than medical reasons." Petr's Mot. at 4-5. The petitioner notes that at the time of her discharge, Navy doctors were treating her for thrombocytosis, a blood condition characterized by a high platelet count. Id. at 3-4. Her physician recommended that a physical examination board ("PEB") be convened to determine whether the petitioner could be separated from the Navy without adverse health consequences. Id. at 3-5. The petitioner alleges that in contravention of its own regulations, the Navy ordered her physician to halt those proceedings once local and national media began to report on her upcoming discharge. Id. at 3-4.

The petitioner also asserts that she is likely to succeed on the merits of her petition for a writ of habeas corpus "because the court-martial that led to her convictions was rife with egregious violations of her constitutional rights and plagued by prosecutorial misconduct, and ineffective assistance from her defense counsel." Petr's 1418 Mot. at 4. The petitioner has identified more than a dozen alleged errors...

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7 practice notes
  • Penland v. Mabus, Civil Action No. 13–1465 RMC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • January 30, 2015
    ...a writ of mandamus and a motion for a preliminary injunction to challenge and forestall her imminent discharge. See Penland v. Mabus, 643 F.Supp.2d 14, 17 (D.D.C.2009). The court denied her motions. See id. at 21, 23.7 On July 31, 2009, Ms. Penland was officially discharged from the U.S. Na......
  • Sataki v. Broad. Bd. of Governors, Civil Action No. 10-534 (CKK)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • July 7, 2010
    ...injunction, she will lose access to health care benefits and critically needed medical treatment upon discharge, cf. Penland v. Mabus, 643 F.Supp.2d 14, 22 (D.D.C.2009) (denying injunctive relief where plaintiff did not demonstrate "that she would be denied access to critical medical care w......
  • Spadone v. McHugh, Civil Action No. 11–1601 (RWR).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • February 8, 2012
    ...“genuinely extraordinary situation[s].” Sampson v. Murray, 415 U.S. 61, 94 S.Ct. 937, 39 L.Ed.2d 166 (1974); see also Penland v. Mabus, 643 F.Supp.2d 14, 21 (D.D.C.2009). A plaintiff carries the burden of persuasion by a clear showing 1) of a substantial likelihood of success on the merits,......
  • Penland v. Mabus, Civil Action No. 13-1465 (RMC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • April 20, 2016
    ...conviction to the General Courts-Martial Convening Authority, which declined to reverse the conviction. See Penland v. Mabus , 643 F.Supp.2d 14, 17 (D.D.C.2009) (Urbina, J.). The matter was referred to the Office of the Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG), which investigated and upheld in Feb......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • Penland v. Mabus, Civil Action No. 13–1465 RMC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • January 30, 2015
    ...a writ of mandamus and a motion for a preliminary injunction to challenge and forestall her imminent discharge. See Penland v. Mabus, 643 F.Supp.2d 14, 17 (D.D.C.2009). The court denied her motions. See id. at 21, 23.7 On July 31, 2009, Ms. Penland was officially discharged from the U.S. Na......
  • Sataki v. Broad. Bd. of Governors, Civil Action No. 10-534 (CKK)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • July 7, 2010
    ...injunction, she will lose access to health care benefits and critically needed medical treatment upon discharge, cf. Penland v. Mabus, 643 F.Supp.2d 14, 22 (D.D.C.2009) (denying injunctive relief where plaintiff did not demonstrate "that she would be denied access to critical medical care w......
  • Spadone v. McHugh, Civil Action No. 11–1601 (RWR).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • February 8, 2012
    ...“genuinely extraordinary situation[s].” Sampson v. Murray, 415 U.S. 61, 94 S.Ct. 937, 39 L.Ed.2d 166 (1974); see also Penland v. Mabus, 643 F.Supp.2d 14, 21 (D.D.C.2009). A plaintiff carries the burden of persuasion by a clear showing 1) of a substantial likelihood of success on the merits,......
  • Penland v. Mabus, Civil Action No. 13-1465 (RMC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • April 20, 2016
    ...conviction to the General Courts-Martial Convening Authority, which declined to reverse the conviction. See Penland v. Mabus , 643 F.Supp.2d 14, 17 (D.D.C.2009) (Urbina, J.). The matter was referred to the Office of the Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG), which investigated and upheld in Feb......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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