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United State v. Turner

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

September 19, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD TURNER, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR EXPUNGEMENT OF FEDERAL CONVICTION

          FREDERICK P. STAMP, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Procedural History

         In March 1992, the defendant in the above-styled criminal matter, Richard Turner, pled guilty to one count of distribution of crack cocaine within 1,000 feet of a protected location in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 860. The defendant was sentenced to a term of 17 months incarceration, followed by six years of supervised release.

         II. Facts

         The defendant has filed a pro se[1] letter requesting that his federal criminal conviction be expunged from his record. ECF No. 2. This Court construes the defendant’s letter as a petition to expunge a federal conviction. In his petition, the defendant states that he wishes to have his federal criminal conviction expunged because it has been over 27 years since his conviction when he was only 21 years old. The defendant states that he has been fully rehabilitated and has stayed out of trouble. The defendant represents that he now coaches football, basketball, and has worked with individuals who have mental disabilities for 19 years and counting. The defendant asks that this Court expunge the prior conviction from his record.

         Although the Court applauds the defendant’s efforts and achievements, 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. Based on the following analysis, however, this Court finds that the petition for expungement of defendant’s federal conviction must 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 ...


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