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United States v. Davis

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

June 18, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES DAVIS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR EXPUNGEMENT OF FEDERAL CONVICTION

          FREDERICK P. STAMP, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Procedural History

         In November 1997, the pro se[1] defendant pled guilty to one count of distribution of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). The defendant was sentenced to a term of 60 months incarceration, followed by three years of supervised release.

         II. Facts

         The defendant has filed a pro se petition requesting that his federal criminal conviction be expunged from his record. ECF No. 761. In his petition, the defendant states that he wishes to have his federal criminal conviction expunged because he is not the same person he was when he was sentenced over 20 years ago. The defendant represents that he has been a “first class citizen” in the time since his sentencing. Based on the following, this Court finds that it lacks jurisdiction to hear the defendant's petition.

         III. Applicable Law

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and can only exercise the authority conferred by the Constitution or by statute. Additionally, although 18 U.S.C. § 3231 provides “district courts with original jurisdiction ‘of all offenses against the laws of the United States, ' a district court's jurisdiction under this statutory provision ends once the judgment of conviction is entered.” United States v. Mitchell, 683 F.Supp.2d 427, 432 (E.D. Va. 2010); 18 U.S.C. § 3231. Thus, no federal statute or regulation generally provides for expungement of a federal offense. Stoute v. United States, CIV.A. RDB-11-1220, 2011 WL 2037672 (D. Md. May 24, 2011).

         Further, federal jurisdiction “is not to be expanded by judicial decree.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Consequently, a district court must have ancillary jurisdiction to complete the expungement of a federal offense where “there is no explicit constitutional or statutory grant of jurisdiction.” United States v. Mitchell, 683 F.Supp.2d 427, 433 (E.D. Va. 2010).

         IV. Discussion

         The defendant states that he is seeking expungement of his federal criminal conviction. The defendant argues that expungement is warranted because he is not the same person he was when he was sentenced over 20 years ago. Based on the following analysis, however, this Court finds that the petition for expungement of his federal conviction should be denied because this Court lacks jurisdiction to review the matter.

         A. Kokkonen and Ancillary Jurisdiction

         The concepts and boundaries of ancillary jurisdiction were explained in the United States Supreme Court's analysis in Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Insurance, 511 U.S. 375 (1994). Ancillary jurisdiction, or as it is sometimes called, “ancillary enforcement jurisdiction, ” is the concept under which federal courts maintain jurisdiction over related proceedings that are technically separate from the claims or causes of action in the initial case that invoked federal subject matter jurisdiction. Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 378-89.

         Significantly, the Supreme Court held that ancillary jurisdiction may be asserted for two purposes: “(1) to permit disposition by a single court of claims that are, in varying respects and degrees, factually interdependent; and (2) to enable a court to function successfully, that is, to manage its proceedings, vindicate its authority, and effectuate its decrees.” Id. at 379-380 (citations omitted). Thus, in the dispute that arose in Kokkonen over the enforcement of the terms of a settlement agreement, the Supreme Court found that it did not have ancillary jurisdiction because that dispute did not fall within the two purposes listed above. Id. at 381-82. Similarly, as discussed more fully below, because the expungement of a conviction does not fall within an area of statutory or constitutional jurisdiction or within the two purposes provided for under ancillary jurisdiction, this Court may not exercise its limited jurisdiction.

         B. Expungement of a ...


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