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United States v. Garcia

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northeastern Division

June 1, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
FABIAN ROEL GARCIA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SHARON LOVELACE BLACKBURN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This case is presently pending before on Motion for Expungement of Conviction and Related Arrest Record filed by defendant Fabian Roel Garcia. (Doc. 3.)[1] For the reasons set forth below, the court finds that it lacks jurisdiction to consider Garcia's Motion. Therefore, the Motion for Expungement of Conviction and Related Arrest Records, (doc. 3), is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Garcia asks the court to expunge the record of his criminal conviction on purely equitable grounds. (See generally id.) On February 21, 1992, Garcia pled guilty to a four-count Information and received probation. (Id. ¶¶ 2-3; see also docs. 1 and 2.) In his Motion, Garcia alleges:

5. Defendant has not been convicted of any charges in subsequent to this conviction, and there is no proceeding involving any crime which is presently pending or being instituted against the Defendant.
6. Since being charged and convicted, the Defendant moved to the State of Texas, found work and has continued to remain a productive member of society.
7. That having such a conviction on the Defendant's record has limited him on the types of jobs he is able to work and has made it difficult to advance in his career.
8. The Defendant is not a threat to the public at large and has demonstrated this by obeying the laws since his conviction which occurred over [twenty-four (24)] years ago.
9. The circumstances and behavior of the Defendant warrant expungement, and the expungement is consistent with the public welfare and to preserve his basic legal and human rights. As of the date this Motion for expungement is filed, there are no criminal or traffic charges pending in any court or jurisdiction against the Defendant.

(Doc. 3 ¶¶ 5-9.) Garcia does not challenge the validity of his arrest or conviction.

         II. DISCUSSION

         In every case, “the first and fundamental question is that of jurisdiction . . . . This question the court is bound to ask and answer for itself, even when not otherwise suggested, and without respect to the relation of the parties to it.” Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 94 (1998)(quoting Great Southern Fire Proof Hotel Co. v. Jones, 177 U.S. 449, 453 (1900)). “The requirement that jurisdiction be established as a threshold matter ‘spring[s] from the nature and limits of the judicial power of the United States' and is ‘inflexible and without exception.'” Id. at 94-95 (quoting Mansfield, C. & L.M.R. Co. v. Swan, 111 U.S. 379, 382 (1884)). “Without jurisdiction the court cannot proceed at all in any cause. Jurisdiction is power to declare the law, and when it ceases to exist, the only function remaining to the court is that of announcing the fact and dismissing the cause.” Id. at 94 (quoting Ex parte McCardle, 7 Wall. 506, 514 (1868)).

         In this case, Garcia alleges that this court has ancillary jurisdiction over his Motion for Expungement of Conviction and Related Arrest Records because the Motion is “closely related to the criminal action.” (See id. ¶¶ 10-11.) “Ancillary jurisdiction exists in two circumstances: ‘(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.'” Nat'l Mar. Servs., Inc. v. Straub, 776 F.3d 783, 786 (11th Cir. 2015)(quoting Peacock v. Thomas, 516 U.S. 349, 354 (1996)(quoting Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 379-80 (1994))). The Eleventh Circuit has not yet addressed whether a district court has ancillary jurisdiction over a Motion to Expunge a conviction on purely equitable grounds.[2]

         However, other Circuit Courts[3] and district courts within this Circuit[4] have held that the district court does not have ancillary jurisdiction to decide a motion for expungement based on purely equitable grounds following the Supreme ...


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