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Minto v. Decker

United States District Court, S.D. New York

June 5, 2015

DWAYNE MINTO, Petitioner,
KENNETH DECKER, et al., Respondents.


LORNA G. SCHOFIELD, District Judge.

Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Kevin Nathaniel Fox ("Report"), recommending that (1) Petitioner's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus be granted, (2) Respondents be directed to provide an individualized bond hearing to Petitioner within seven days of the date of this Opinion and Order to determine whether his continued detention is justified and (3) Petitioner's request for costs and attorneys' fees be denied. Both parties filed timely objections to the Report. For the reasons stated below, the Report is adopted in part and rejected in part. Petitioner's requests for a Writ of Habeas Corpus and an individualized bond hearing are granted.


The facts and procedural history relevant to the motions are set out in the Report and summarized here.

A. Relevant Factual and Procedural History

Petitioner - a citizen of Jamaica - entered the United States on a B-2 visa in 1985 when he was approximately three years old. He was arrested in Connecticut on three separate occasions in 2004. After the first arrest, he pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance. Following the second arrest, he pleaded guilty to third-degree assault. After the third arrest, he pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance. After each guilty plea, he was principally sentenced to a one-year term of imprisonment, execution suspended.

On March 28, 2014, approximately 10 years after his most recent arrest and having never served a custodial sentence, Petitioner was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") and detained at the county jail in Goshen, New York. On the same day, Petitioner was issued a Notice to Appear, charging that Petitioner is subject to removal because of his prior criminal convictions and because his presence in the United States is "without admission or parole, " under sections 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I)-(II), 212(a)(6)(A)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA"), 8 U.S.C. § 1101 et seq. On March 28, 2014, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") issued a Notice of Custody Determination, stating that DHS would continue to detain him until a final administrative determination of his removal is reached. An immigration judge denied Petitioner's request for a change in custody status on April 29, 2014.

B. The Report and the Parties' Objections

Petitioner seeks a Writ of Habeas Corpus, alleging that he is being unlawfully detained by Respondents. The Report - issued on March 26, 2015 - reaches three primary conclusions. First, the Report accepts Respondents' argument that Petitioner is subject to mandatory detention without a bond hearing under section 236(c) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c) (referred to hereafter as "section 236(c)"), deferring to a Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") decision interpreting section 236(c)(1). Second, the Report agrees with Petitioner that his detention violates his Fifth Amendment right to due process. Third, the Report rejects Petitioner's request for an award of costs and attorneys' fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act ("EAJA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2412 et seq. The Report recommends a prompt individualized bond hearing to determine if Petitioner should continue to be detained.

By letter dated April 16, 2015, Petitioner timely objected to the Report's conclusion that he is subject to mandatory detention. Petitioner contends that the Report errs in its deference to the BIA interpretation of section 236(c)(1). In particular, Petitioner argues that the Report contains insufficient analysis of section 236(c)(1)'s claimed ambiguity and asks the Court to "conduct its own analysis[, ] utilizing the traditional tools of statutory interpretation." Petitioner does not object to the Report's denial of his costs and attorneys' fees.

By letter dated April 16, 2015, Respondents also timely objected to the Report, specifically, the finding that Petitioner's detention violates his right to due process. First, Respondents assert that the length of Petitioner's detention cannot establish a due process violation on its own "without any fact-specific consideration of the removal proceedings giving rise to his detention...." Second, Respondents contend that, as Petitioner "has been charged as removable for having been convicted of offenses enumerated" in section 236(c), section 236(c) authorizes his continued detention without bond and without any individualized showing of flight risk or dangerousness.


A reviewing court "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). The district court "may adopt those portions of the report to which no specific, written objection' is made, as long as the factual and legal bases supporting the findings and conclusions set forth in those sections are not clearly erroneous or contrary to law." Adams v. N.Y. State Dep't of Educ., 855 F.Supp.2d 205, 206 (S.D.N.Y. 2012) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149 (1985)).

The court must undertake a de novo review of any portion of the report to which a specific objection is made on issues raised before the magistrate judge. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); United States v. Male Juvenile, 121 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir. 1997). Even when exercising de novo review, "[t]he district court need not... specifically articulate its reasons for rejecting a party's objections...." LaBarbera v. D. & R. Materials Inc., 588 F.Supp.2d 342, 344 (E.D.N.Y. 2008) (quoting Morris v. Local 804, Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, 167 F.Appx. 230, 232 (2d Cir. 2006)). When a party makes only conclusory or general objections, or simply reiterates the original arguments made below, a court will review the report strictly for clear error. Crowell v. Astrue, No. 08 Civ. 8019, 2011 WL 4863537, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 12, 2011) (citation omitted). Finally, "an unsuccessful party is not entitled as of right to a de novo review by the judge of an argument never seasonably raised before the magistrate." Marache v. Akzo Nobel Coatings, Inc., No. 08 Civ. 11049, 2010 WL 3731124, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 7, 2010) (quoting Paterson-Leitch Co. v. Mass. Mun. Wholesale ...

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