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United States v. Skeins

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

October 17, 2014

HARRY SKEINS, JR., Defendant.


JAMES L. ROBART, District Judge.


Before the court is Defendant Harry Skeins, Jr.'s objection to the United States' motion to issue a continuing garnishee order for non-wages to garnishee Broadway Bank. (Obj. (Dkt. # 10).) Mr. Skeins challenges the United States' motion (Mot. (Dkt. # 9)) on the grounds that (1) the property that Broadway Bank holds for him should be exempt due to his poor living conditions; (2) he has promptly and properly complied with court orders to repay the restitution in monthly payments; and (3) the remaining balance represented in the government's motion is incorrect. Having considered the submissions of the parties and the relevant law, the court DENIES Mr. Skeins' objection and GRANTS the government's motion.


On April 25, 2008, Mr. Skeins was ordered to pay restitution on a criminal matter in the amount of $1, 560, 000.00. See United States v. Hawkins, et al., No. CR06-0280RSM (W.D. Wash. Apr. 25, 2008). The government contends that as of August 22, 2014, Mr. Skeins has a remaining balance of $1, 534, 121.96. (Mot. at 2.) Mr. Skeins argues that the remaining balance is actually in the vicinity of $800, 000.00. (Obj. ¶ 7.)

On October 17, 2013, the United States filed an application for a writ of garnishment. (Appl. (Dkt. # 1).) On October 23, 2013, the court entered an order to issue a writ of continuing garnishment for non-wages to the garnishee Broadway Bank. (10/23/13 Order (Dkt. # 2).) The United States mailed notification of the garnishment proceeding to Mr. Skeins on October 31, 2013. (Certificate of Service (Dkt. # 5).) Broadway Bank filed an answer to the writ of garnishment on November 12, 2013, indicating that it had control, custody, and possession of an individual account (Account No. ******0022) with an approximate value of $100, 910.33 belonging to Mr. Skeins and his wife. (Answer (Dkt. # 6).) Neither Mr. Skeins nor his wife filed an objection or request for a hearing. On December 2, 2013, the court entered an order directing Broadway Bank to continue to hold the funds in Mr. Skeins' account until final disposition of the garnishment action. (12/02/13 Order (Dkt. # 8).)

On August 27, 2014, the United States filed a motion for a continuing garnishment order directing Broadway Bank to deposit the funds in Account No. ******0022 with the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington to be put towards Mr. Skeins' criminal restitution judgment. (Mot. at 3.) Mr. Skeins filed the instant objection on September 8, 2014. ( See Obj.)


A. Timeliness of Mr. Skeins' Motion

A judgment debtor may contest garnishment proceedings by filing a request for a hearing under 28 U.S.C. § 3202(d) or an objection under 28 U.S.C. § 3205(c)(5). Both of these methods are subject to 20-day time limits. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 3202(d), 3205(c)(5). Section 3202 provides that a judgment debtor may request a hearing within 20 days after receiving notice of the initiation of garnishment proceedings. 28 U.S.C. § 3202(d). A judgment debtor can also file an objection to the garnishee's answer and request a hearing under 28 U.S.C. § 3205(c)(5) within 20 days after receipt of the answer. 28 U.S.C. § 3205(c)(5).

Mr. Skeins' filed his objection on September 8, 2014 ( see Obj.), nearly 11 months after the United States mailed notice of the proceedings to Mr. Skeins ( see Certificate of Service) and nearly 10 months after Broadway Bank filed its answer. ( See Answer.) Even considering the time his objection spent with the United States Postal Service, Mr. Skeins submitted his objection past the 20-day period within which judgment debtors must file a written objection or request a hearing. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 3205(c)(5), 3202(d).

Courts facing similar situations have held that untimely objections will not be heard. For example, in United States v. Baldonado, an incarcerated pro se defendant "completely missed the 20-day period and... provided no reason for his failure." United States v. Baldonado, No. 2:05-CR-689 TS, 2010 WL 5252415, at *1 (D. Utah Dec. 16, 2010). The court therefore held that his "request for a hearing [was] untimely." Id .; see also United States v. Ernst, No. 206-CR-10-FTM-29DNF, 2010 WL 3746950, at *5 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 21, 2010) (denying as untimely an objection "filed over 140 days after the Clerk's Notice [of the garnishment proceedings] and over 120 days after the garnishee's answer"); United States v. Reynolds, No. CIVA 3:09-CV-2083-L, 2010 WL 1063430, at *1 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 19, 2010) ("Defendant's request for a hearing was not timely [as] it was filed nearly ninety days after the clerk's notice to him.").

Mr. Skeins is a pro se defendant. The statutes, however, make no provision for late filings, even by pro se litigants. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 3202(d), 3205(c)(5). Further, Mr. Skeins' only explanation for his delay is that he believed that the government would settle this matter out of court. (Obj. ¶ 13.) The court finds Mr. Skeins' subjective expectation of settlement insufficient to excuse his failure to comply with the statutory time limits. Therefore, regardless of whether Mr. Skeins' objection is construed as a request for a hearing at the notice stage under ...

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