United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE
CHARLES S. COODY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Melvin Smith filed this 42 U.S.C. §1983 complaint while
incarcerated at the Easterling Correctional Facility in Clio,
Alabama. He alleges Defendants violated his constitutional
rights during his parole consideration hearing in May of
2016. Specifically, Smith alleges the defendant parole board
members lacked authority to deny him parole because they had
not been properly confirmed by the Alabama legislature. Smith
further alleges Defendants relied on false information in his
pre-sentence report to deny him parole which violated his due
process and equal protection rights. The named defendants are
the State of Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles (the
“Board”), Executive Director of the Alabama Board
of Pardons and Paroles Phil Bryant, and Alabama Board of
Pardons and Paroles members Lynn Head, Eddie Cook, Jr., and
Cliff Walker. Smith seeks to be reconsidered for a
parole hearing before parole board members properly confirmed
by the Alabama Legislature, that members of the Board
consider him for parole without reliance on false
information, and that they accept the recommendation of the
Circuit Judge for Russell County, Alabama, the District
Attorney for Russell County, and the victim that there is no
opposition to his early release. Docs. 1, 6.
Smith filed this action, he was an inmate in the custody of
the Alabama Department of Corrections. Since filing the
complaint, however, Smith has been released from custody.
See Doc. 36. Based on Smith's complaint,
amendment thereto, and the specific relief sought, the
undersigned concludes this action is due to be dismissed as
do not sit to render advisory opinions. North Carolina v.
Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 246 (1971). Article III of the
United States Constitution confers jurisdiction on the
district courts to hear and determine “Cases” and
“Controversies.” U.S. Const. Art. III, 2;
Mingkid v. U.S. Att'y Gen., 468 F.3d 763, 768
(11th Cir. 2006). An actual controversy must exist when the
case is pending. Steffel v. Thompson, 415 U.S. 452,
459 n.10 (1974); see Al Najjar v. Ashcroft, 273 F.3d
1330, 1335 (11th Cir. 2001) (quotation marks and citation
omitted) (“The doctrine of mootness derives directly
from the case-or-controversy limitation because an action
that is moot cannot be characterized as an active case or
Smith v. Allen, 502 F.3d 1255, 1267 (11th Cir.
2007), abrogated on other grounds by Sossamon v.
Texas, 563 U.S. 277 (2011), the court noted:
[t]he general rule . . . is that a transfer or a release of a
prisoner from prison will moot that prisoner's claims for
injunctive and declaratory relief. The reason for this rule
is that injunctive relief is a prospective remedy, intended
to prevent future injuries, . . . and, as a result, once the
prisoner has been released, the court lacks the ability to
grant injunctive relief and correct the conditions of which
the prisoner complained.
(quotation marks and citations omitted). Thus, where the only
relief requested is injunctive or declaratory, it is possible
for events subsequent to filing the complaint to make the
matter moot. National Black Police Ass'n v. District
of Columbia, 108 F.3d 346, 350 (D.C. Cir. 1997) (change
in statute); Williams v. Griffin, 952 F.2d 820, 823
(4th Cir. 1991) (transfer of prisoner); Tawwab v.
Metz, 554 F.2d 22, 23 (2d Cir. 1977) (change in policy).
becomes moot when the controversy between the parties is no
longer alive because one party has no further concern in the
outcome. Weinstein v. Bradford, 423 U.S. 147 (1975);
Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 95 (1968) (finding that
“no justiciable controversy is presented . . . when the
question sought to be adjudicated has been mooted by
developments” subsequent to filing of the complaint).
Federal courts may not rule upon questions hypothetical in
nature or which do not affect the rights of the parties.
Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 US. 472, 477
(1990). “Article III requires that a plaintiff's
claim be live not just when he first brings suit, but
throughout the litigation.” Tucker v. Phyfer,
819 F.2d 1030, 1034 (11th Cir. 1987). Because mootness is
jurisdictional, dismissal is required when an action is moot
as a decision in a moot action would be an impermissible
advisory opinion. Al Najjar, 273 F.3d at 1336.
Saladin v. Milledgeville, 812 F.2d 687, 693 (11th
Cir. 1987), the court determined:
A case is moot when the issues presented are no longer
“live” or the parties lack a legally cognizable
interest in the outcome of the litigation, such as where
there is no reasonable expectation that the violation will
occur again or where interim relief or events have eradicated
the effects of the alleged violation.
relief is a prospective remedy, intended to prevent future
injuries.” Adler v. Duval County School Bd.,
112 F.3d 1475, 1477 (11th Cir. 1997). For that reason,
“[w]hen the threat of future harm dissipates, the
plaintiff's claims for equitable relief become moot
because the plaintiff no longer needs protection from future
injury.” Id.; Church v. City of
Huntsville, 30 F.3d 1332, 1337 (11th Cir. 1994)
(quotation marks and citation omitted) (holding that
“[l]ogically, a prospective remedy will provide no
relief for an injury that is, and likely will remain,
entirely in the past.”).
Smith's ultimate objective in filing this action was to
be rescheduled for a parole hearing before “(2) [board]
members [ ] properly confirmed by the Alabama legislature,
” that such consideration be conducted without reliance
on allegedly false information in his pre-sentence report,
and that the Board accept the recommendation from the trial
judge, the prosecutor, and the victim of his crime that there
is no opposition to his early release. Docs. 1, 6. Smith,
however, has since been released from custody, and there is
no longer a case or controversy to litigate. United
States ex rel. Graham v. United States Parole
Comm'n, 732 F.2d 849, 850 (11th Cir. 1984) (holding
that challenge to parole regulation mooted by release on
parole as a favorable decision would not entitle petitioner
to any additional relief); Vandenberg v. Rodgers,
801 F.2d 377, 378 (10th Cir. 1986) (holding that appeal from
denial of habeas petition challenging determinations that
delayed inmate's parole date was moot where inmate had
been released on parole and there was no allegation of
continuing adverse consequences); see also Bailey v.
Southerland, 821 F.2d 277, 278-79 (5th Cir. 1987)
(citing Graham) (holding that habeas petition
challenging prison disciplinary ...