United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
G. JAMES MAG. JUDGE.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. HAYES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court are three Claims of Exemption From Garnishment
[doc. # 80, pp. 1-6], a Motion for Hearing [doc. # 80, p.
18], and a Motion to Transfer [doc. # 81] filed by Defendant,
Ralph Edward Place. These matters have been referred to the
undersigned for review, report, and recommendation in
accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636 and
the standing orders of the Court. For reasons assigned below,
it is recommended that the claims of exemption and both
motions be DENIED.
Facts and Procedural History
August 24, 2001, this Court entered a Judgment [doc. # 30]
following Defendant's guilty plea to Wire Fraud under 18
U.S.C. §1343. Defendant was sentenced to 18 months
imprisonment and 3 years of supervised release. Defendant was
further sentenced to pay an assessment of $100.00 and
restitution to five individuals totaling $365, 500.00. This
Court ordered that “[a]ny restitution that remains
unpaid at the time of the defendant's release from
confinement shall be payable in monthly installments in the
amount of $500.00 to begin 30 days from his release, and
continuing monthly thereafter until paid in full.”
Defendant was released from incarceration on January 9, 2003.
See Doc. # 36. On May 10, 2004, the Court entered an
Order [doc. # 34] reducing the amount of the restitution
monthly payment to $300.00. On January 8, 2006, Defendant was
released from supervision. See Doc. # 82, p. 10.
April 24, 2018, the U.S. Attorney filed a Writ of Continuing
Garnishment [doc. #79] (the “Writ”) against
Defendant's bank account with JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A.
Attached to the Writ was a Clerk's Notice of
Post-Judgment Garnishment (the “Clerk's
Notice”), a blank Motion for Hearing form, and a blank
Claim for Exemption Form. See Doc. # 79-1. The
Clerk's Notice included the following paragraph:
If you think you live outside the federal judicial district
in which the court is located, you may request, not later
than 20 days after you receive this notice, that this
proceeding to take your property be transferred by the Court
to the federal judicial district in which you reside. You
must make your request in writing, and either mail it or
deliver it in person to the Clerk of Court.
Clerk's Notice, doc. # 79-1, p. 2.
24, 2018, Defendant made two filings. First, he filed the
Writ and attached documents [doc. # 80]. This included three
executed copies of the Claim Exemption Form, wherein
Defendant claimed the same exemption: the funds sought to be
garnished are unemployment benefits. See Doc. # 80,
pp. 1-6. Defendant also attached, but did not execute, a copy
of the Motion for Hearing form. See Id. at p. 18.
The second filing was a letter addressed to the Clerk of
Court [doc. # 81], wherein Defendant asserts that he has
resided outside the Western District of Louisiana for 15
years and requests that the proceedings be transferred to the
judicial district where he resides. Defendant lists an
address in Decatur, Texas, which is in the Northern District
of Texas, Fort Worth Division.
29, 2018, the United States filed its Response in Opposition
to Defendant's Motion for Exemptions Hearing and Transfer
[doc. # 82], arguing that Defendant's claims of exemption
are invalid and noting that Defendant does not dispute that
the funds are owed. Accordingly, the United States concludes
that no hearing is warranted and that transferring the case
would only serve to delay collection. For the reasons stated
below, the undersigned agrees.
Collection of Restitution Judgments.
Mandatory Victim Restitution Act, (“MVRA”),
provides that when sentencing a criminal defendant,
“the court shall order . . . that the defendant make
restitution to the victim of the offense . . . .” 18
U.S.C. § 3663A(a)(1). The MVRA also provides that the
government may enforce restitution orders ”in the same
manner it recovers fines and by all other available
means.” United States v. Phillips, 303 F.3d
548, 551 (5th Cir. 2002). This includes use of the Federal
Debt Collection Procedures Act (“FDCPA”) (28
U.S.C. § 3001 et seq.). Id. The FDCPA
authorizes the government to seek and a court to issue a
“writ of garnishment against property (including
nonexempt disposable earnings) in which the debtor has a
substantial nonexempt interest and which is in the
possession, custody, or control of a person other than the
debtor, in order to satisfy the judgment against the
debtor.” 28 U.S.C. § 3205(a).
Claims of Exemption.
government may enforce a restitution order via garnishment
against “all property or rights to property of the
[defendant], ” excluding a limited list of exempt
property. 18 U.S.C. § 3613(a). The following types of
property are exempt from garnishment: (1) wearing apparel and
school books; (2) fuel, provisions, furniture, and personal
effects not to exceed $9, 380 in value; (3) books and tools
of a trade, business or profession not to exceed $4, 690 in
value; (4) unemployment benefits; (5) undelivered mail; (6)
annuity and pension payments under the Railroad Retirement
Act, benefits under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act,
and certain payments for military service; (7) workman's
compensation; (8) judgments for support of minor children;
(9) certain service-connected disability payments; and (10)
assistance under the Job Training Participation Act. 18
U.S.C. § 3613(a)(1) ...