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Holley v. Cournoyer

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 9, 2018

JUBAR T. HOLLEY, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN ANNE COURNOYER, Respondent.

          RULINGS ON PENDING MOTIONS

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On April 10, 2017, Jubar T. Holley (“Petitioner” or “Mr. Holley”), then an inmate confined at Enfield Correctional Institution in Enfield, Connecticut, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 against Warden Anne Cournoyer. Mr. Holley contends that his state convictions for criminal possession of a firearm were obtained without probable cause, violate his Fifth Amendment protection against double jeopardy, and violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. He seeks an order vacating his sentences.

         On July 13, 2017, this Court issued an order for Warden Cournoyer to show cause why the relief prayed for in the petition should not be granted. Order to Show Cause, ECF No. 10. After seeking two extensions of time, Warden Cournoyer submitted her response to the petition, a motion to dismiss, ECF No. 21, on December 11, 2017.

         Mr. Holley has filed seven motions currently pending before this Court: (1) a motion to enter a default judgment, ECF No. 11; (2) a motion for summary judgment, ECF No.12; (3) a motion for “expedited calendaring” of the petition, ECF No. 13; (4) a motion for a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction, ECF No. 19; (5) a motion for a default judgment, ECF No. 23; (6) a motion to set aside this Court's order granting Warden Cournoyer an extension until December 11, 2017 to file her response, ECF No. 24; (7) and a motion to strike Warden Cournoyer's motion to dismiss (ECF No. 25).[1]

         For reasons stated below, these motions are DENIED.

         I. MOTIONS FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT JUDGMENT AND MOTION TO SET ASIDE SECOND EXTENSION OF TIME AND MOTION TO STRIKE

         The Second Circuit has expressed a strong preference for resolving disputes on the merits. New York v. Green, 420 F.3d 99, 104 (2d Cir. 2005). “A default judgment is the most severe sanction which the court may apply . . . [and] all doubts must be resolved in favor of the party seeking relief from the default judgment.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted); Abreu v. Nicholls, 368 F. App'x 191, 192 (2d Cir. 2010); see also Theilmann v. Rutland Hospital, Inc., 455 F.2d 853, 855 (2d Cir. 1972) (“Dismissal with prejudice is a harsh remedy to be utilized only in extreme situations”).

         In support of his first motion for a default judgment, Mr. Holley argues that Warden Cournoyer has waived her right to respond to the petition after the Court gave her adequate time to do so. Mot. for Default J., ECF No. 11. On October 20, 2017, however, the Court granted Cournoyer's motion for extension of time until December 8, 2017 to respond to the petition. And, although Mr. Holley is correct that Warden Cournoyer failed to timely submit her response after the Court granted her first request for an extension of time, Mot. for Default J., ECF No. 23, an entry of default would again be moot. The Court already granted Warden Cournoyer's second request for an extension of time until December 11, 2017 to submit her response to the petition, and Warden Cournoyer, indeed, submitted her response on that date. See Order, ECF No. 22.

         Additionally, Mr. Holley's motion to set aside the order granting the second extension of time and his supporting memorandum do not explain how Warden Cournoyer's failure to timely respond has prejudiced him. He seems to rely solely on the delay caused by Warden Cournoyer, which is an insufficient basis for entering a default judgment. See Davis v. Musler, 713 F.2d 907, 916 (2d Cir. 1983) (“D]elay alone is not a sufficient basis for establishing prejudice . . . [r]ather, it must be shown that delay will result in the loss of evidence, create difficulties of discovery, or provide greater opportunity for fraud or collusion” (internal quotation marks omitted)).

         Because Mr. Holley has failed to show any prejudice resulting from Warden Cournoyer's failure to timely respond to the petition, and Warden Cournoyer has now submitted her response, Mr. Holley's motions for default judgment, ECF No. 11 and 23 are DENIED as moot. The motion to set aside the order granting an extension of time, ECF No. 24, and motion to strike Warden Cournoyer's motion to dismiss, ECF No. 25, are also DENIED.

         Mr. Holley's response to the motion to dismiss was due on January 1, 2018, but the Court, sua sponte, will extend this deadline until February 2, 2018. To the extent any additional time is required, Mr. Holley should file a motion for extension of time with this Court on or before that date.

         II. MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

         In support of his motion for summary judgment, Mr. Holley argues that the record shows no genuine issue of material fact and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 12. Because Warden Cournoyer has now filed her response to the petition, summary judgment is premature. The Court will deny the motion without prejudice to Mr. Holley's refiling at a later stage of litigation. See Delinois v. Wiley, 98 Civ. 84, 2000 WL 33767754 at *2 (N.D.N.Y. Feb. 2, 2000) (denying summary judgment filed before time to file response to petition was due).

         III. MOTION FOR ...


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