United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
WILLIAM A. WHITE, Petitioner,
MAUREEN BAIRD Warden, USP - Marion, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
HERNDON, District Judge.
William White, who is currently incarcerated in the Federal
Correctional Institution in Marion, Illinois, filed a
petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241 (Doc. 6) in the Northern District of Illinois. In
the Petition, he challenges his conviction for transmitting
in interstate commerce threats to injure or intimidate
individuals in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 875(c). (Doc.
6). The Petition was reviewed and a response ordered while
this case was pending in the Northern District of Illinois.
(Doc. 8). The case was then transferred to this District on
December 21, 2016. (Doc. 41). In the interest of clarity, and
because the venue and respondent have since changed, this
Court will reiterate the findings of that Order (Doc. 8) and
order a response from the appropriate respondent.
argues in the Petition (Doc. 6) that he is entitled to relief
under Elonis v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2001
(2015). Elonis holds the government must prove the
defendant had the subjective intent to send the threats in
order for the defendant to be convicted for transmitting them
in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 875(c). Petitioner argues
that he was convicted under a prior interpretation of §
875(c), which did not require proof of subjective intent. He
also claims that the savings clause of 28 U.S.C. §
2255(e) applies to his case, so a habeas corpus petition
under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 is appropriate. See Brown v.
Caraway, 719 F.3d 583, 586 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing
In re Davenport, 147 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 1998)).
April 20, 2016, the Northern District of Illinois determined
that Petitioner “has made a sufficient showing to
require a response by the government.” (Doc. 8, p. 2).
This Court finds no reason to disagree. The Respondent will
therefore be ordered to answer the Petition (Doc. 6) or
otherwise respond within 30 days of the date this Order is
for Default Judgment
filed a Second Motion for Default Judgment (Doc. 47) on
February 17, 2017. In his Motion, he argues that the matter
is ripe for default judgment as the government is
“forty days in default” from the date he moved to
substitute the respondent on January 12, 2017. (Doc. 47, p.
2). He also claims that this is the fifth time the government
has been in default in this case, explaining that the
government missed the original filing deadline for response
to the Petition and requested extensions of time to file two
times before filing a motion to dismiss after the deadline.
(Doc. 47, pp. 2, 3). Given the extensions of time to file
were granted (See Docs. 14, 25), Petitioner's
claim that the government defaulted five times in this case
this Court will not grant default judgment at this stage.
Although the Court may enter a default judgment against a
party that fails to respond after notice in a civil case,
“default judgment, without full inquiry into the facts,
is especially rare when entered against a custodian in a
habeas corpus proceeding.” Ruiz v. Cady, 660
F.2d 337, 340 (7th Cir. 1981); Fed.R.Civ.P. 55. Accordingly,
a default judgment should only be entered where the
government's delay has been extreme. Id. (citing
Ruiz, 660 F.2d at 341). Even where the delay
approaches the tipping point, courts should still decide the
motion on the merits if possible because “if the
petition has no merit[, ] the delay in disposing of it will
in the usual case have caused no prejudice to the
petitioner.” Bleitner v. Welborn, 15 F.3d 652,
653 (7th Cir. 1994).
Respondent's delay in this case is not so extreme as to
warrant a default judgment. In fact, the appropriate
respondent according to Petitioner's Motion for
Substitution (Doc. 44), B True, had not yet been substituted
as a party at the time Petitioner filed his Motion for
Default Judgment. (Doc. 47). The Court will therefore deny
Petitioner's Motion for Default Judgment and allow True,
the newly substituted Respondent, to answer.
has filed a Motion for Substitution of Respondent (Doc. 44),
which is hereby GRANTED. “[T]he proper respondent to a
habeas petition is ‘the person who has custody over
[the petitioner].'” Rumsfeld v. Padilla,
542 U.S. 426, 434 (2004) (citing 28 U.S.C. §§ 2242,
2243). “The default rule is that the proper respondent
is the warden of the facility where the prisoner is being
held.” Id. at 435. Petitioner claims that B
True replaced Maureen Baird as Warden of the Federal
Correctional Institution in Marion, Illinois. Accordingly,
the Court substitutes True as Respondent pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 25.
has also filed a Second Motion for Default Judgment Pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a), (d) (Doc. 47), which is DENIED for the
reasons articulated herein.