United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
McCafferty United states District Judge
December 1, 2016, the court issued an amended judgment for
defendant Joshua Fields on his conviction for possession of a
firearm by a convicted felon, 18 U.S.C. §
922(g)(1). Fields has since appealed his sentence. The
amended judgment included an order requiring the Bureau of
Prisons (“BOP”) to “destroy any and all
copies of Mr. Fields's original [Presentence Report
(“PSR”)] within its possession and reclassify Mr.
Fields based on the new PSR and without reference to any
portion of the original PSR.” Doc. no. 31-1 at
2-3. The order was intended to correct Fields's erroneous
classification as a sex offender, which the BOP had imposed
as a result of an error in the original PSR.
has now filed a motion for contempt against the BOP, alleging
that the BOP has continued to use his original PSR and has
retained his sex offender classification. The government
objects. For the following reasons, Fields's motion is
government argues that the motion should be denied for three
reasons: (1) the court does not have jurisdiction over the
case as a result of Fields's appeal; (2) the proper
vehicle for Fields's complaint is 28 U.S.C. §
2241; and (3) Fields's claim lacks merit. See doc.
no. 45 at 1-2. Although the court is not persuaded
by the government's first two arguments, it agrees that
Fields has not carried his burden on the merits.
“the filing of a notice of appeal divests the district
court of jurisdiction over matters related to the
appeal.” Acevedo-Garcia v. Vera-Monroig, 368
F.3d 49, 58 (1st Cir. 2004). “But that principle has no
bearing on a court's power to hold a party in contempt
for violating a court order related to execution on a
judgment.” Id.; see also United States v.
Hurley, 63 F.3d 1, 23 (1st Cir. 1995) (noting that a
district court may “act in aid of execution of a
judgment that has been appealed but not stayed”).
Therefore, the court retains jurisdiction to enforce its
order while the appeal is pending.
the government shown that Fields was required to bring his
complaint through a separate action under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241. Although an individual may seek relief
“from the manner of execution of a sentence” by
way of a § 2241 action, Muniz v.
Sabol, 517 F.3d 29, 33-34 (1st Cir. 2008), the
government cites no authority for the proposition that the
alleged violation of a court order must be litigated through
such an action simply because it relates to a defendant's
conditions of confinement.
this court has the “inherent power to enforce
compliance with [its] lawful orders through civil contempt,
” Shillitani v. United States, 384 U.S. 364,
370 (1966), and it may invoke that power to “protect
the due and orderly administration of justice and . . .
maintain the authority and dignity of the court, ”
Goya Foods, Inc. v. Wallack Mgmt. Co., 290 F.3d 63,
78 (1st Cir. 2002) (internal brackets omitted). Thus, the
court may properly consider Fields's motion and, if
necessary, enforce compliance with its prior order through
its civil contempt power. See Agtuca v. Reed, No.
CV-86-331-RHW, 2006 WL 2009050, at *2 (E.D. Wash. July 17,
2006) (declining to classify motion for contempt as one
seeking habeas relief, because “[p]etitioner is not
seeking relief from an alleged infringement of his
constitutional rights; he is merely seeking enforcement of an
order issued by the Court”).
on the merits, the court cannot conclude that Fields has
satisfied his burden of establishing that the BOP violated
the order. “A district court may issue a civil contempt
order if the moving party establishes by clear and convincing
evidence that the alleged contemnor violated the order
despite clear and unambiguous notice of the order and the
ability to comply with it.” AngioDynamics, Inc. v.
Biolitec AG, 780 F.3d 420, 426 (1st Cir. 2015).
government has provided two BOP forms showing Fields's
classification-one based on the original PSR and one compiled
after the court issued its amended judgment and order. The
former displays a sex offender classification, while the
latter does not. Compare doc. no. 45-1, with doc.
no. 45-2. This is strong evidence that the BOP has
complied with the court's order and reclassified Fields
based on the new PSR.
comparison, Fields offers the following evidence to support
his motion: (1) a sentence monitoring computation form, which
shows his new sentence but still references his now-vacated
sentencing enhancement under 18 U.S.C. § 924;
(2) an email exchange between Fields and the BOP regarding
the calculation of his sentence; (3) the results of a FOIA
request pertaining to his sex offender classification; and
(4) an inmate profile form that he apparently obtained from
his FOIA request, which contains redactions of information
compiled for law enforcement purposes which could reasonably
be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any
individual, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(F). See doc. nos.
42-2, 42-3, 42-4, 42-5.
Unlike the express references in the government's
exhibits, none of this evidence explicitly shows that the BOP
is continuing to classify Fields as a sex offender. Even if
it provides some circumstantial evidence supporting
Fields's claim, in light of the evidence proffered by the
government, the court cannot conclude that Fields has
demonstrated a violation of the court's order by clear
and convincing evidence. See AngioDynamics, Inc.,
780 F.3d at 426.
the motion for contempt (doc. no. 42) is denied.