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In re Coffman

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

September 4, 2014

In re: MICHAEL REESE COFFMAN, Petitioner

On Petition for a Writ of Mandamus to the Northern District of Florida. D.C. Docket No. 3:05-cr-00017-RV-MD-3.

In re MICHAEL REESE COFFMAN, Petitioner: Valarie Linnen, Valarie Linnen, Esq, Atlantic Beach, FL; Michael Reese Coffman, Pollock, LA.

For United States of America, Mandamus Respondent: Robert G. Davies, Randall Joseph Hensel, Lennard B. Register III, Pamela C. Marsh, U.S. Attorney's Office, Pensacola, FL.

Before WILSON, PRYOR, and ROSENBAUM, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 1247

PRYOR, Circuit Judge:

This petition requires us to decide whether a federal prisoner may apply for " an order establishing" a " lost or destroyed record of [a] proceeding in [a] court," 28 U.S.C. § 1734, when the prisoner failed to allege any legal need for the record. A jury convicted Michael Reese Coffman of one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine. 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); (b)(1)(A)(viii). After his unsuccessful direct appeal and collateral attack of his sentence, 28 U.S.C. § 2255, Coffman has returned to our Court because he wants--for no apparent reason--a copy of an exhibit from his trial. The clerk of the district court destroyed the exhibit from Coffman's closed case in accordance with local rules, but Coffman later applied to the district court to " establish" the record, id. § § 1734, 1735. The district court denied the application, and Coffman filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in our Court to require the district court to hold a hearing to establish the record. After briefing and oral argument, we deny Coffman's petition because he failed to allege any need for the record in any pending or contemplated legal proceeding.

I. BACKGROUND

A federal grand jury indicted Coffman on one count of conspiracy to manufacture and to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine. 21 U.S.C. § § 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A)(viii), 846. Because the United States failed to introduce any evidence at trial that Coffman intended to

Page 1248

manufacture the drug, the district court suggested that it redact " to manufacture" from the indictment before providing it to the jury for deliberations. The parties agreed, and the court redacted the indictment, marked it as Court Exhibit 2, and gave it to the jury.

The jury returned a guilty verdict against Coffman on the single count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, and the district court sentenced him to life imprisonment. We affirmed his sentence on direct appeal, United States v. Coffman, 188 F.Appx. 945 (11th Cir. 2006), and the Supreme Court denied his petition for a writ of certiorari, Coffman v. United States, 549 U.S. 1235, 127 S.Ct. 1316, 167 L.Ed.2d 126 (2007). Coffman then filed a motion to vacate his sentence, 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which the district court denied. We denied his request for a certificate of appealability, and the Supreme Court denied his petition for a writ of certiorari, Coffman v. United States, 558 U.S. 1061, 130 S.Ct. 772, 175 L.Ed.2d 538 (2009). Coffman filed a motion for reconsideration, Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b), which the district court denied, and we again denied his request for a certificate of appealability. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h).

Seven months later, Coffman wrote a letter to the clerk of the district court requesting a copy of the redacted indictment from his trial. But the mandate had issued more than 30 days before Coffman sent his letter, and the clerk had disposed of the record according to a local rule. The clerk advised Coffman that the record was " not available" because " Northern District of Florida Local Rule 5.2 calls for the disposition of exhibits thirty days after the mandate on direct appeal."

Unsatisfied with the response from the clerk, Coffman applied for an " order establishing the lost or destroyed record." 28 U.S.C. § § 1734, 1735. The district court denied the application and stated that " Government Exhibit 2 (a quantity of methamphetamine) was returned to the [Drug Enforcement Agency], as customary." The district court apparently mistook Government Exhibit 2, which related to the quantity of drugs, for Court Exhibit 2, which was the redacted indictment. Coffman then petitioned this Court for a writ of mandamus to require ...


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