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United States v. Hendrickson

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

January 16, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Plaintiff,
v.
DOREEN HENDRICKSON, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Victoria A. Roberts United States District Judge

         Doreen Hendrickson (“Hendrickson”) filed a pro se “Motion for the Stay of Execution of Sentence, the Vacating of Her Conviction, and Other Relief, ” (“Motion”) on October 10, 2017. [Doc. # 169]. She requests that the Court vacate her conviction because the Court had no authority to preside over proceedings compelling Hendrickson to file false tax returns. She relies on Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 60(b)(4) and (6).

         The Court issued a notice of its ability to construe Hendrickson's Motion as one under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The Court warned Hendrickson that she had until November 3, 2017 to either withdraw her Motion or file an amended motion under § 2255. [Doc. # 175]. Hendrickson did not exercise the options given to her. The Court then issued a notice that it would construe her Motion as one under § 2255. [Doc. # 176].

         The Motion has been fully briefed. Hendrickson's request for a stay is MOOT. The balance of her motion is DENIED.

         I. Introduction

         In 2014, Hendrickson was tried and convicted of criminal contempt under 18 U.S.C. § 401(3) for failing to comply with an injunctive order entered by Judge Nancy Edmunds. Judge Edmunds' order required Hendrickson - who falsely believes that only government employees are subject to tax withholdings - to file corrected tax returns for years 2002 and 2003, and to include a true account of Hendrickson's gross income. Hendrickson was also ordered to refrain from filing false tax returns in the future. Hendrickson failed to abide by Judge Edmunds' order, and the Government charged her with criminal contempt. As a result of Hendrickson's conviction in this Court, Hendrickson was sentenced on April 9, 2015 to eighteen months imprisonment, followed by one year of supervised release. One condition of her release was to file all delinquent or amended tax returns.

         Hendrickson filed two motions. In both, she asked the Court to modify conditions of her supervised release. The Court denied both motions. On September 8, 2017, the Court sentenced Hendrickson to four months imprisonment for violating the conditions of her release; she failed to file 2002 and 2003 amended tax returns.

         Hendrickson now claims that by compelling her to file amended tax returns for 2002 and 2003, the Court and the Government violated 26 U.S.C. § 7206, which criminalizes any effort to procure tax returns that the signer does not believe to be true. Hendrickson says the Court acted criminally by ordering the returns and in doing so, this so called criminal conduct by the Court deprived it of jurisdiction over Hendrickson's case. The Government argues that Hendrickson's claim is procedurally barred and meritless.

         II. Legal Standard

         A federal custodial sentence may be vacated, set aside or corrected if: (1) the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States; (2) the court was without jurisdiction to impose the sentence; (3) the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law; or, (4) the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).

         III. Analysis

         A. Hendrickson's Claim Is Not Procedurally Defaulted

         The Government concedes in its Response that Hendrickson's post-conviction claim that the Court lacks jurisdiction falls within the scope of § 2255. However, according to the Government, Hendrickson's jurisdictional claim is procedurally barred because she waived it by not raising it on direct appeal. In her “Reply To The Purported Government Opposition To Her Motion To Vacate And Other Relief” (“Reply”) [Doc. # 181], Hendrickson argues that jurisdictional claims can be raised at any time and are never waived.

         Hendrickson is correct; subject matter jurisdiction, which “involves [the Court's] power to hear a case, can never be forfeited or waived.” United States v. Cotton, 535 U.S. 625, 630 (2002). Even if, as the Government claims, “[Hendrickson] did not challenge subject-matter jurisdiction on appeal, this claim is not procedurally defaulted because claims challenging subject-matter jurisdiction can never be waived.” Lewis v. United States, 2013 U.S. ...


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