United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
W. PHILLIPS SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are Petitioner Edward Fultz, Jr.'s notice of
voluntary dismissal of his pending motion to vacate, set
aside or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255,
and the United States' motion to deny the petition and
dismiss the action with prejudice.
RELEVANT BACKGROUND FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
pled guilty to federal controlled substances offenses and was
sentenced in 2012 as a career offender to serve 151
months' incarceration [See Doc. 69 in
3:11-CR-46]. In June of 2016, Fultz filed his § 2255
motion in light of the Supreme Court's decision in
Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015),
which invalidated a statutory clause of the Armed Career
Criminal Act. Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2563 [Doc. 1].
Fultz argued that Johnson's reasoning
invalidated his career-offender classification under the
United States Sentencing Guidelines
(“Guidelines”), thus entitling him to a reduced
sentence [Id.]. On August 10, 2016, the United
States filed a motion to defer ruling on the motion pending
the Supreme Court's decision in Beckles v. United
States, 137 S.Ct. 886 (2017), which was poised to
address whether the Guidelines were subject to a vagueness
challenge, and if so, whether any rule so finding would be
retroactively applied [Doc. 2]. On March 6, 2017, the Supreme
Court handed down its decision in Beckles, holding
that the advisory sentencing Guidelines are not subject to
vagueness challenges under the Due Process Clause.
Beckles, 137 S.Ct. at 895. Thereafter, based on
Beckles, the United States filed a motion to deny
Fultz's § 2255 motion and dismiss this action with
prejudice [Doc. 3]. On March 29, 2017, Fultz filed a notice
of voluntary dismissal [Doc. 4].
Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A)(i) provides that a movant
is permitted to voluntarily dismiss an action without a court
order by filing “a notice of dismissal before the
opposing party serves either an answer or a motion for
summary judgment[.]” Unless otherwise stated, such a
dismissal is without prejudice. Fed.R.Civ.P. (a)(1)(B).
contrast, once the opposing party has served an answer or a
motion for summary judgment, “an action may be
dismissed at the plaintiff's request only by court order,
on terms that the court considers proper.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
41(a)(1)(A)(i); Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(2). Because properly filed
notices of voluntary dismissal are self-effectuating,
Aamot v. Kassel, 1 F.3d 441, 445 (6th Cir. 1993),
resolution of the pending motions depends on whether the
United States' filings submitted prior to Fultz's
notice constitute an “answer” or “motion
for summary judgment” under Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(i).
Sixth Circuit precedent demands that the United States'
motion to deny the petition and dismiss it with prejudice is
neither an answer nor a motion for summary judgment for
purposes of Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(i). See Aamot, 1 F.3d
at 444 (declining to find motions to dismiss summary judgment
motions for purposes of Rule 41(a)). Therefore, only the
motion to defer ruling remains for consideration.
contents of an “answer” under § 2255 must
“address the allegations in the motion, ” state
whether the movant has used other federal remedies, and state
whether the movant received an evidentiary hearing. See,
e.g., Rule 5(b), Rules Governing Section 2255
Proceedings in the United States District Courts. The United
States' motion to defer ruling does none of these. While
the motion to defer does contain a general discussion of
retroactivity, it contains no fact-based argument of
constitutional principles to Fultz's discrete claim.
Rather, the motion focuses on the reasons to defer ruling.
Accordingly, the Court finds that Fultz filed his notice of
voluntary dismissal before the United States filed an answer
or motion for summary judgment under Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(i), and
his notice of dismissal is self-effectuating. See
Aamot, 1 F.3d at 445.
reasons stated herein, the Clerk's Office will be
DIRECTED to terminate Fultz's §
2255 petition and the civil action associated with it. The
dismissal will be without prejudice. The United States'
motions to defer ruling and to deny and dismiss the §
2255 petition will be DENIED AS MOOT.