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United States of America v. Jamar Teel

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA


June 1, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
JAMAR TEEL

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo

MEMORANDUM ORDER

Having served his sentence, Jamar Teel petitions for the expungement of his criminal record. Teel states that "[h]aving a felony on my record renders me from gaining better employment and so forth." Because the Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the petition, it will be dismissed.

The inherent equitable power of federal courts to expunge criminal records is of "exceedingly narrow scope" and may be used only where a case "presents extraordinary circumstances." See Geary v. United States , 901 F.2d 679, 679 (8th Cir. 1990); Rogers v. Slaughter , 469 F.2d 1084, 1085 (5th Cir. 1972). Such "extraordinary circumstances" exist where the petition for expungement challenges the legality of the underlying criminal proceeding. United States v. Rowlands , 451 F.3d 173, 177 (3d Cir. 2006).

The dispositive consideration in this case is the Court's lack of jurisdiction over the petition. The Third Circuit has held*fn1 that "in the absence of any applicable statute enacted by Congress, or an allegation that the criminal proceedings were invalid or illegal, a District Court does not have the jurisdiction to expunge a criminal record, even when ending in an acquittal." United States v. Dunegan , 251 F.3d 477, 480 (3d Cir. 2001). The Third Circuit has applied this rule to find that jurisdiction was lacking where a convict sought expungement of his criminal record so that he could gain re-certification as a teacher. Rowlands , 451 F.3d at 175--78. The court of appeals concluded that "[b]ecause [the convict] has not attacked the validity of the underlying conviction, we reject his contention that we have inherent jurisdiction over his petition for expungement." Id. at 178.

Here, Teel raises only equitable concerns. He does not allege that his conviction violates any statutory or constitutional provisions or was otherwise irregular. Thus, this Court lacks jurisdiction over his petition.

Therefore, this 1 st day of June, 2011, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Jamar Teel's petition for expungement of his criminal record (Doc. 535) is DISMISSED for lack of jurisdiction.

A. Richard Caputo

United States District Judge


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