United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MELVIN CHARLES HUNTER (Dallas Cty. Jail Bookin No. 17038670), Petitioner,
STATE OF TEXAS, Respondent.
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
L. HORAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Court opened this pro se habeas action based on a
letter from Petitioner Melvin Charles Hunter (at least then a
Dallas County jail detainee) that the Court received on
November 2, 2017. See Dkt. No. 3. Hunter explained,
through that letter/petition, that he believes that he is
being unlawfully detained based on a Louisiana
parole-violation warrant. See Id. His action has
been referred to the undersigned United States magistrate
judge for pretrial management under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)
and a standing order of reference from Chief Judge Barbara M.
G. Lynn. And the undersigned enters these findings of fact,
conclusions of law, and recommendation that, for the reasons
stated below, the Court should dismiss this action without
prejudice under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 41(b).
this action was opened, the Court entered a notice of
deficiency and order requiring that Hunter, by no later than
December 7, 2017, (1) present his claims on a form petition
for habeas corpus relief and (2) either pay the $5.00 filing
fee or, if he qualifies, move for leave to proceed in
forma pauperis. See Dkt. No. 4 (warning Hunter
that his failure to take these actions by the Court's
deadline “will result in a recommendation that the
petition be dismissed for failure to prosecute pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b)”). Prior to the
deadline to comply, the notice of deficiency and order - sent
to Hunter at the Dallas County jail, the only address that he
has provided the Court - was returned as undeliverable
because Hunter is no longer incarcerated there. See
Dkt. No. 5.
Standards and Analysis
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b), “a district
court may dismiss an action sua sponte if the
plaintiff fails to comply with court orders.”
Nottingham v. Warden, Bill Clements Unit, 837 F.3d
438, 440 (5th Cir. 2016) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b);
McCullough v. Lynaugh, 835 F.2d 1126, 1127 (5th Cir.
1988) (per curiam)). Under the same rule, a district court
also “may sua sponte dismiss an action for
failure to prosecute.” Rosin v. Thaler, 450
Fed.Appx. 383, 383-84 (5th Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (citations
omitted)). That authority “flows from the court's
inherent power to control its docket and prevent undue delays
in the disposition of pending cases.” Boudwin v.
Graystone Ins. Co., Ltd., 756 F.2d 399, 401 (5th Cir.
1985) (citing Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 626
41(b) dismissal may be with or without prejudice. See
Long v. Simmons, 77 F.3d 878, 879-80 (5th Cir. 1996).
Although “[l]esser sanctions such as fines or dismissal
without prejudice are usually appropriate before dismissing
with prejudice, ... a Rule 41(b) dismissal is appropriate
where there is ‘a clear record of delay or contumacious
conduct by the plaintiff and when lesser sanctions would not
serve the best interests of justice.'”
Nottingham, 837 F.3d at 441 (quoting Bryson v.
United States, 553 F.3d 402, 403 (5th Cir. 2008) (per
curiam) (in turn quoting Callip v. Harris Cty. Child
Welfare Dep't, 757 F.2d 1513, 1521 (5th Cir.
1985))); see also Long, 77 F.3d at 880 (a dismissal
with prejudice is appropriate only if the failure to comply
with the court order was the result of purposeful delay or
contumacious conduct and the imposition of lesser sanctions
would be futile); cf. Nottingham, 837 F.3d at 442
(noting that “lesser sanctions” may
“‘include assessments of fines, costs, or damages
against the plaintiff, conditional dismissal, dismissal
without prejudice, and explicit warnings'” (quoting
Thrasher v. City of Amarillo, 709 F.3d 509, 514 (5th
updating his mailing address, Hunter has prevented this
action from proceeding, leaving the impression that he no
longer wishes to pursue the relief sought in his petition. He
therefore has failed to prosecute his lawsuit. And, as this
Court has observed in a similar context,
“‘[w]here months pass without any contact by a
plaintiff and all mail sent to a plaintiff within the same
time period - at the only address plaintiff provides - is
returned as undeliverable, the court has no option but to
conclude that plaintiff has abandoned the prosecution of his
lawsuit.'” Davis v. Hernandez, No.
3:12-cv-2013-L-BN, 2016 WL 335442, at *3 (N.D. Tex. Jan. 5,
2016) (quoting Beck v. Westbrook, No.
3:14-cv-2364-B, 2015 WL 7241377, at *2 (N.D. Tex. Oct. 6,
2015), rec. adopted, 2015 WL 7196340 (N.D. Tex. Nov.
16, 2015)), rec. adopted, 2016 WL 320644 (N.D. Tex.
Jan. 27, 2016).
the Court should not let this action languish on its docket
because there is no way to contact Hunter. And he will not be
prejudiced by a dismissal of this action at this time - no
filing fee has been assessed and no limitations issues are
apparent based on the allegations he has made.
41(b) dismissal of this lawsuit without prejudice is
therefore warranted under these circumstances. The
undersigned concludes that lesser sanctions would be futile;
the Court is not required to delay the disposition of this
case until such time as Hunter decides to update his contact
information or contact the Court. Accordingly, the Court
should exercise its inherent power to prevent undue delays in
the disposition of pending case and sua sponte
dismiss this action without prejudice.
Court should dismiss this action without prejudice under