Expunction Orders Kept Out of Federal Court
(CN) - A law that allows the U.S. government to assert federal jurisdiction over claims against it in state court does not apply to expunction orders, a federal judge ruled.
The ruling stems from the final order of expunction an El Paso County, Texas, state court issued Ramon Rodriguez, directing the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to delete references about Rodriguez's arrest from all public records.
Hoping to invalidate the order as it applies to the government agencies, Uncle Sam moved to remove and quash the expunction order in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.
The feds supported their motion by citing a section of the U.S. Code that says any civil action or criminal prosecution filed against the United States, or any federal employee, can be removed to federal court.
U.S. District Judge David Guaderrama denied the motion Tuesday for lack of jurisdiction.
Because the state court issued a final order of expunction for Rodriguez the expunction cannot be considered pending, Guaderrama noted.
"As such, there is nothing remaining for the state court to do in Ex Parte Ramon Rodriguez and, in no sense, can the expunction petition be considering 'pending' in the 171st Judicial District Court of El Paso, County Texas," he wrote. "Accordingly, even if the 'final order for expunction' could be considered a 'civil action or criminal prosecution' within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1442, it would not be a 'pending' 'civil action or criminal prosecution' and, therefore is not removable."
On the other hand, if a federal agency or official was sued for contempt for violating an expunction order, the statute "would permit removal of that action to federal court so as to prevent the federal entity from being tried in state court," Guaderrama added.
In denying the U.S. government's motion to quash Guaderrama also denied all pending motions in the case as moot.