United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
J. QUIST UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a habeas corpus action brought by a former state prisoner
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. At the time Petitioner Robert
Lee Rosa filed his habeas corpus petition, he was
incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections at
the Carson City Correctional Facility (DRF) in Montcalm
County, Michigan. Respondent has submitted a suggestion of
death (ECF No. 8), consistent with Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 25(a). The documents Respondent filed indicate that
Petitioner died at DRF on June 3, 2019. (Death Certificate,
ECF No. 8-2, PageID.688.) Because of Petitioner's death,
the Michigan Department of Corrections discharged him. See
(visited Jan. 5, 2020).
Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1 (1998), the Supreme
Court considered whether a prisoner's discharge mooted
the prisoner's habeas petition challenging his
incarceration. Because prisoner Spencer, as well as
Petitioner here, was incarcerated at the time the petition
was filed, he satisfied the “in custody”
requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Id. at 7. The
Spencer Court recognized, however, that the “case or
controversy” requirement of Article III, § 2, of
the Constitution, requires more:
“This case-or-controversy requirement subsists through
all stages of federal judicial proceedings, trial and
appellate.... The parties must continue to have a
‘personal stake in the outcome' of the
lawsuit.” Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494
U.S. 472, 477-478 (1990). See also Preiser v.
Newkirk, 422 U.S. 395, 401 (1975). This means that,
throughout the litigation, the plaintiff “must have
suffered, or be threatened with, an actual injury traceable
to the defendant and likely to be redressed by a favorable
Spencer, 523 U.S. at 7 (parallel citations omitted). Once a
petitioner's sentence has expired, however, some actual
injury other than the incarceration-some “collateral
consequence”-must exist for a case to continue.
Id. If there is no such collateral consequence, the
petition is moot.
deprives the Court of jurisdiction. See Demis v.
Sniezek, 558 F.3d 508, 512 (6th Cir. 2009)
(“Because the exercise of judicial power under Article
III of the Constitution depends on the existence of a live
case or controversy, mootness is a jurisdictional
question.”). The death of an inmate during the pendency
of his habeas petition renders the action moot and deprives
the Court of jurisdiction. Hailey v. Russell, 394
U.S. 915 (1969); Figueroa v. Rivera, 147 F.3d 77
(1st Cir. 1998); Portalatin v. Graham, 624 F.3d 69,
78 n.3 (2d Cir. 2010); Keitel v. Mazurkiewicz, 729
F.3d 278 (3rd Cir. 2013); Eakes v. McCall, 553
Fed.Appx. 268 (4th Cir. 2013); Knapp v. Baker, 509
F.2d 922 (5th Cir. 1975); Beach v. Humphries, No.
89-3483, 1990 WL 140574 (6th Cir. 1990); Hillman v.
McCaughtry, 14 F.3d 350 (7th Cir. 1994); Hann v.
Hawk, 205 F.2d 839 (8th Cir. 1953); Griffey v.
Lindsey, 349 F.3d 1157 (9th Cir. 2003); Jones v.
Royal, No. 15-6086, 2017 WL 4875552 (10th Cir. Mar. 30,
2017); Bruno v. Secretary, Florida Dep't of
Corr., 700 F.3d 445 (11th Cir. 2012); Parkman v.
Harrison, No. 01-7028, 2002 WL 1461799 (D.C. Cir. July
8, 2002). Accordingly, the Court will dismiss this action
because Petitioner's death has rendered the petition moot
and the Court no longer has jurisdiction.
28 U.S.C. § 2253(c), a petitioner may not appeal in a
habeas case unless a circuit justice or judge issues a
certificate of appealability. Rule 22 of the Federal Rules of
Appellate Procedure extends to district judges the authority
to issue a certificate of appealability. Fed. R. App. P.
22(b). See Lyons v. Ohio Adult Parole Auth., 105
F.3d 1063, 1073 (6th Cir. 1997). Under 28 U.S.C. §
2253(c)(2), the Court must determine whether a certificate of
appealability should be granted. A certificate should issue
if a petitioner has demonstrated a “substantial showing
of a denial of a constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2253(c)(2). The standard a petitioner must meet
depends on whether the issues raised in the petition were
denied on the merits or on procedural grounds.
Court dismissed Petitioner's application on the
procedural ground of lack of jurisdiction. “When the
district court denies a habeas petition on procedural grounds
without reaching the prisoner's underlying constitutional
claim, a [certificate of appealability] should issue when the
prisoner shows, at least,  that jurists of reason would
find it debatable whether the petition states a valid claim
of the denial of a constitutional right and  that jurists
of reason would find it debatable whether the district court
was correct in its procedural ruling.” Slack v.
McDaniel,529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000). Both showings must
be made to warrant the grant of a certificate. Id.
The Court finds that reasonable jurists could not debate that
this court correctly dismissed Petitioner's claims for
lack of jurisdiction. “Where a plain procedural bar is
present and the district court is correct to invoke it to
dispose of the case, a reasonable jurist could not conclude
either that the district court erred in dismissing the