United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
A. FITZWATER SENIOR JUDGE
Jeffrey Steven Rudluff (“Rudluff”) has filed a
claim for exemption under 28 U.S.C. § 3202 concerning a
writ of garnishment issued to enforce a judgment in a
criminal case. He does not request a hearing under §
3202(d). For the reasons explained, the court denies
Rudluff's claim for exemption.
pleaded guilty to attempted enticement of a minor, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b). As part of his
sentence, the court ordered Rudluff to pay a $100 mandatory
special assessment and a $5, 000 assessment under the Justice
for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (“JVTA”),
18 U.S.C. § 3014. The government obtained a writ of
garnishment issued to garnishee Fidelity Management Trust
Company (“Fidelity”). Fidelity has answered the
writ, acknowledging that it has possession, custody, or
control of a rollover individual retirement account in
Rudluff's name that contains funds that exceed the amount
of the criminal judgment.
claim for exemption, Rudluff asserts that the funds Fidelity
is withholding are exempt under 42 U.S.C. § 407(a). The
court disagrees. Although the Social Security Act generally
provides that benefits under the Act are not subject to
garnishment,  18 U.S.C. § 3613 expressly
provides that the United States can enforce a judgment
notwithstanding that section of the Social Security Act.
See, e.g., United States v. Lockhart, 2014 WL
12503340, at *5 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 25, 2014) (Solis, J.),
aff'd, 584 Fed.Appx. 268 (5th Cir. 2014);
see also United States v. DeCay, 620 F.3d 534,
539-41 (5th Cir. 2010) (concluding that Mandatory Victims
Restitution Act allows garnishment of defendant's
retirement benefits to satisfy criminal restitution order).
Rudluff does not claim any other exemption or provide the
court any argument as to why he believes the funds in his
Fidelity account are exempt from garnishment.
28 U.S.C. § 3205(c)(5), Rudluff has the burden of
proving the grounds for the exemption he claims. Because he
has failed to satisfy this burden, the court denies
Rudluff's claim for exemption.
did not check the box requesting a hearing on his claim for
an exemption; nor did he check the box stating “I do
not request a hearing in this matter.” Assuming
arguendo that Rudluff intended to request a hearing,
the court denies the request. 28 U.S.C. § 3202(d) limits
the issues that may be addressed at a garnishment hearing to
(1) the probable validity of a claim for exemption, (2)
compliance with statutory requirements for the issuance of a
writ, and (3) certain issues regarding default judgments.
See 28 U.S.C. § 3202(d). For the reasons
explained above, Rudluff has not claimed a valid exemption.
He has not alleged that the United States failed to comply
with the statutory requirements for the issuance of the writ.
And the United States is enforcing the restitution order as
part of Rudluff's criminal sentence, not as a default
judgment. Rudluff has therefore failed to raise an issue that
would require (or permit) a hearing under § 3202(d).
reasons explained, Rudluff s August 20, 2019 claim for
exemption is denied.
Under § 205(a)(5) of the
E-Government Act of 2002 and the definition of “written
opinion” adopted by the Judicial Conference of the
United States, this is a “written opinion issued by
the court” because it “sets forth a reasoned
explanation for [the] court's decision.” It has
been written, however, primarily for the parties, to decide
issues presented in this case, and not in an official
reporter, and should be understood accordingly.
See 42 U.S.C. § 407
(“[N]one of the moneys paid or payable or rights
existing under this subchapter shall be subject to . . .