United States District Court, District of Columbia
E. BOASBERG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
se Petitioner John Sweeney is currently incarcerated in
the District of Columbia Jail. He originally challenged the
legality of his detention by filing a habeas action under 28
U.S.C. § 2241 on February 12, 2016, which was assigned
to Judge Rosemary Collyer of this district. Apparently
believing that two rolls of the dice are better than one, he
then filed this identical § 2241 Petition before this
Court two weeks later. As the legality of Sweeney’s
detention has already been decided on the merits, the Court
will deny this duplicative Petition.
21, 2010, Sweeney was sentenced in the Superior Court of the
District of Columbia to an aggregate prison term of 72 months
for assault with intent to commit robbery and related weapons
offenses. See Sweeney v. U.S. Parole Comm’n
(Sweeney I), No. 16-245, 2016 WL 3030230, at *1 (D.D.C.
May 26, 2016) (describing history). Upon his release from
incarceration, he began serving a three-year term of
supervised release. Id. He was arrested again in
April 2015 and charged with four counts of unlawful
possession of weapons and ammunition and one count of
second-degree cruelty to children. See District of
Columbia v. Sweeney, 2015-CF2-4535. On June 8, 2015,
Judge Patricia A. Broderick of the Superior Court ordered
Sweeney detained pending disposition of his new case.
Sweeney I, 2016 WL 3030230, at *1; see also
Sweeney, 2015-CF2-4535. He was committed to the D.C.
Jail and has been incarcerated there since. Sweeney
I, 2016 WL 3030230, at *1. Sweeney’s new criminal
matter just resulted in a conviction on July 13, 2016.
response to the new charges, the United States Parole
Commission separately issued a “violator warrant”
on May 7, 2015, because such charges, if true, violated the
terms of his supervised release. Sweeney I, 2016 WL
3030230, at *1. Because such warrant was not executed by June
8 - the date Judge Broderick ordered Sweeney detained - it
has been lodged with the District of Columbia until a date
upon which execution may be appropriate. Id. As
Sweeney is currently being held pending sentencing on the new
charges, the Commission has yet to hold a hearing on the
violator warrant. Id.
February 12, 2016, Sweeney filed his first Petition for Writ
of Habeas Corpus. Id. The crux of that Petition was
that the Commission had violated his due-process rights by
failing to hold a hearing on the violator warrant.
See First Petition at 5. Sweeney inexplicably then
filed this action on February 26, 2016, only two weeks later.
See ECF No. 1. The Petition before this Court is
identical to that filed in Sweeney I, with the only
identifiable difference between the two being that the second
Petition’s signature is dated. On May 26, 2016, Judge
Collyer issued an Opinion denying Sweeney’s first
Petition and dismissing the case. Sweeney I, 2016 WL
3030230, at *1. The Commission now moves to dismiss the
instant Petition on the ground that “the matter has
previously been discharged by this Court.” Opp. at 1.
opposing Sweeney’s Petition for a Writ of Habeas
Corpus, the Commission contends that a court has already
ruled upon the “substance” of his claim. While
Respondent does not articulate what doctrine it believes
warrants dismissal here, it appears to be referring to
res judicata. Such a challenge to Sweeney’s
Petition, however, would be misplaced as “[r]es
judicata does not apply to habeas petitions.”
Baynes v. Zenk, 215 F. App’x 932, 933 (11th
Cir. 2007); see also Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298,
319 (1995) (“This Court has consistently relied on the
equitable nature of habeas corpus to preclude application of
strict rules of res judicata.”).
Court can, instead, use its discretion to dismiss
Sweeney’s claims on two alternative grounds. See
Rasmussen v. Joslin, No. 07-355, 2008 WL 2329105, at
*4-6 (S.D. Tex. June 4, 2008) (“Although respondent
does not address this issue, a ‘long line of
precedent’ establishes that courts may sua
sponte raise affirmative defenses in habeas
cases.”) (citing Kiser v. Johnson, 163 F.3d
326, 329 (5th Cir. 1999)). First, he impermissibly filed
duplicative Petitions in the same court at the same time; and
second, his Petition is successive as Judge Collyer has
already ruled on the merits of an identical one. The Court
considers each ground in turn.
Sweeney’s best attempts to get a second bite at the
habeas-corpus apple, “[a] plaintiff has no right to
maintain two separate actions involving the same subject
matter at the same time in the same court and against the
same defendant.” Baird v. Gotbaum, 792 F.3d
166, 171 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (quoting Zerilli v. Evening
News Ass’n, 628 F.2d 217, 222 (D.C. Cir. 1980)).
To prevent duplicative pleadings, this district has the
“discretion to control [its] docket by dismissing
duplicative cases.” Clayton v. District of
Columbia, 36 F.Supp.3d 91, 94 (D.D.C. 2014) (quoting
Katz v. Gerardi, 655 F.3d 1212, 1217 (10th Cir.
2011)); Bowe-Connor v. McDonald, No. 15-269, 2015 WL
807537, at *1 (D.D.C. Feb. 25, 2015) (“Where a
plaintiff brings duplicative claims against the same
defendant, . . . [t]he [best] course is to dismiss the claims
in the new case as duplicative of the already-pending
claims.”) (citation and internal quotation marks
omitted); see also Columbia Plaza Corp. v. Sec.
Nat’l Bank, 525 F.2d 620, 626 (D.C. Cir. 1975)
(“Sound judicial administration counsels against
separate proceedings, and the wasteful expenditure of energy
and money incidental to separate litigation of identical
issues should be avoided.”) (footnotes omitted).
restricting duplicative actions applies to all plaintiffs
alike, refusing to distinguish between those proceeding
pro se and those represented by counsel.
Bowe-Connor, 2015 WL 807537, at *1 (dismissing
pro se plaintiff’s complaint as it was
“nearly identical [to the] complaint” filed six
days prior as both recited the same allegations, used the
same language, sought the same relief, and named the same
defendant); Phelps v. Stomber, 883 F.Supp.2d 188,
233 (D.D.C. 2012) (dismissing duplicative claim where
plaintiff was represented by counsel).
caselaw alone is sufficient to mandate dismissal.
Second or ...