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CASE NO. F17-376; F17-1770




DANIEL JUNIOR, Interim Director,

Miami-Dade County Corrections and


Response to Emergency Petition for

Writ of Habeas Corpus and Motion to Dismiss

Petitioner James Lacroixs petition for writ of habeas corpus improperly seeks a

determination in state court as to the legality of federal immigration law, an area that binding

Florida precedent has directed to be exclusively within federal court jurisdiction. See, e.g.,

Ricketts v. Palm Beach County Sherriff, 985 So.2d 591, 591 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008) (a state court

cannot adjudicate the validity of the federal detainer, as the area of immigration and

naturalization is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government). In doing so, Mr.

Lacroix invites this Court to effectively pit Respondent Daniel Junior, Interim Director of

Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation, (Miami-Dade County) between two

sovereign authorities operating at cross purposes. On the one hand, federal authority, acting

through a federal official charged with enforcing federal immigration laws, that asks Miami-

Dade County to maintain temporary custody of Mr. Lacroixpursuant to a final order of

removalin order to effectuate his transfer into federal custody. On the other, state authority
Lacroix v. Junior, F17-376; F17-1770
Page 2 of 9

acting through a state circuit court who is now asked to issue an extraordinary writ to undermine

that enforcement effort and direct Miami-Dade County to belay that request.

Florida law, however, is clear that this matter must remain within the exclusive purview of

the federal government and state courts are without authority to intervene. See id.; Witten v.

State, 129 So.3d 1163 (Fla. 3d DCA 2014). Because this Court lacks jurisdiction to hear this

matter and, even if such jurisdiction existed, Mr. Lacroixs petition is deficient on its face,

Miami-Dade County respectfully moves that this Court dismiss the petition. If Mr. Lacroix still

intends to pursue relief, he must seek it in the appropriate forum where the merits of his petition

may be heard.


In his most recent visit to this Court, Mr. Lacroix was brought into the custody of Miami-

Dade County on January 28, 2017 on charges of driving with a suspended license while a

habitual traffic offender, a third-degree felony pursuant to Fla. Stat. 322.34(5).1 See Exhibit A.

At the time of his arrest, Mr. Lacroix had been released on felony bond for a prior arrest on

January 8, 2017 for the same offense. See id.

On January 29, 2017, Miami-Dade County received a completed DHS Form I-247X relating

to Mr. Lacroix. The form was signed by Ofr. J. Guardino, a Deportation Officer with U.S.

In order to be designated a habitual traffic offender, an individual must have accumulated
within a 5-year period either (a) three or more convictions arising out of separate acts for
vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence, a felony in the commission of which a
motor vehicle was used, driving with a suspended license, failing to stop in a motor vehicle
accident resulting in death or personal injury, or driving a commercial motor vehicle while
said privilege were disqualified, or (b) fifteen or more convictions for moving traffic offenses.
See Fla. Stat. 322.264.
Lacroix v. Junior, F17-376; F17-1770
Page 3 of 9

Immigration and Customs Enforcement,2 and it makes various representations. See Exhibit B.

First, the form indicates that Mr. Lacroix has been deemed an immigration enforcement priority

by the Department of Homeland Security because in the judgment of a designated senior DHS

official, his removal would serve an important federal interest. Id. Second, the form requests

that Miami-Dade County maintain custody of [Mr. Lacroix] for a period NOT TO EXCEED 48

HOURS beyond the time he would otherwise have been released from [Miami-Dade Countys]

custody to allow [the Department of Homeland Security] to assume custody. Id. (emphasis in

original). Third, the form indicates that probable cause exists that the subject is a removable

alien. And, according to the form, that probable cause determination is based on two separate

factors: (1) there is a final order of removal against the subject, and (2) biometric

confirmation of [Mr. Lacroixs] identity and a records check of federal databases

affirmatively indicate, by themselves or in addition to other reliable information, [Mr. Lacroix]

either lacks immigration status or notwithstanding such status is removable under U.S.

immigration law. Id.

On February 28, 2017, Mr. Lacroix came before this court and entered a plea of guilty in

both felony cases. See Petition at 2. He subsequently received a sentence of credit for time served

for both convictions. See id. Miami-Dade County, acting pursuant to the federal authority

conferred by the immigration detainer, continued to hold Mr. Lacroix for a brief period in order

to allow the Department of Homeland Security to assume custody. At 11:25 AM on March 1,

2017 (or approximately 24 hours after this Court conducted the plea and sentencing hearing), Mr.

Lacroix was transferred into the custody of federal immigration officials. See Exhibit C.

As a Deportation Officer, Ofr. Guardino is duly authorized under 8 C.F.R. 287.7(b) to issue
these detainer forms.
Lacroix v. Junior, F17-376; F17-1770
Page 4 of 9

I. This Court Lacks Jurisdiction to Consider Mr. Lacroixs Petition

In every case, the first and fundamental question is that of jurisdiction. Steel Co. v. Citizens

for a Better Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 94 (1998) (internal quotation omitted). Without

jurisdiction the court cannot proceed at all in any cause. Jurisdiction is power to declare the law,

and when it ceases to exist, the only function remaining to the court is that of announcing the fact

and dismissing the cause. Ex Parte McCardle, 74 U.S. 506, 514 (1868). Moreover, judicial

action devoid of such restraint carries the court beyond the bound of authorized judicial action

and thus offends fundamental principles of separation of powers. Steel Co., 523 U.S. at 94.

In this case, Mr. Lacroix appears to be exclusively challenging his temporary detention by

Miami-Dade County pursuant to the federal immigration detainer.3 That claim, however, is not

new, novel, or undecided. In Ricketts v. Palm Beach County Sherriff, the Fourth District Court of

Appeals reviewed a petition for writ of habeas corpus that sought relief from the sheriffs policy

of detaining arrestees subject to a federal immigration hold. 985 So.2d 591, 591 (Fla. 4th DCA

2008). Ricketts held that the petitioner could not secure habeas corpus relief from the state court

on the legality of his federal detainer because [t]he constitutionality of his detention pursuant

to both the I-247 and I-203 federal forms is a question of law for the federal courts. Id. at 592-

93.4 Ricketts further explained that a state court cannot adjudicate the validity of the federal

detainer, as the area of immigration and naturalization is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the

Although Mr. Lacroixs petition is devoid of any reference to the federal immigration
detainer, this Courts Order Directing Response to Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
specifically notes that Mr. Lacroix has made allegations regarding his temporary detention by
Miami-Dade County on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and that the
purported purpose of these proceedings is an [e]valuation of the lawfulness of such
detention. Order at 3.
Accord State v. Chavez-Juarez, 923 N.E.2d 670, 680 (Ohio Ct. App. 2009) (If Chavez
wished to challenge his detention, the proper avenue at that point would have been to file a
petition in the federal courts.).
Lacroix v. Junior, F17-376; F17-1770
Page 5 of 9

federal government. Id. (emphasis added) (citing Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 225 (1982);

DeCanas v. Bica, 424 U.S. 351, 354 (1976)). See also Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. 387,

123 S.Ct. 2492, 2498 (2012) (The Government of the United States has broad, undoubted power

over the subject of immigration and the status of aliens.).

In reaching this conclusion, the Fourth District also found that, when acting on a federal

immigration detainer, the local government will not be holding [the petitioner] pursuant to state

authority but pursuant to federal authority. Ricketts, 985 So.2d at 593. This Court relied on a

similar allegation in its Order. See Order at 3 (noting that [Mr.] Lacroix further alleges that, in

continuing to hold him, the county acts as an agent for ICE, a federal entity). Notably, when

that fact (i.e., custody pursuant to federal authority) has been present in other contexts, both the

First and Third District Courts of Appeals have summarily dismissed petitions for writ of habeas

corpus for lack of jurisdiction. See Witten v. State, 129 So.3d 1163 (Fla. 3d DCA 2014)

(dismissing a writ of habeas corpus directed at the State of Florida for lack of jurisdiction); Floyd

v. Clark, 801 So.2d 325 (Fla. 1st DCA 2001) (holding this court has no jurisdiction to grant

habeas corpus relief to one in federal custody pursuant to orders or process of the federal


Because the Fourth District has already issued an on-all-fours decision that dismissed a

virtually identical petition, this Court is required to render a similar dismissal, even if this Court

disagrees with that outcome. State v. Washington, 114 So.3d 182, 185 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012)

(While a lower court is free to disagree and to express its disagreement with an appellate court

ruling, it is duty-bound to follow it).5 As the Florida Supreme Court has repeatedly articulated,

To the extent this Court disagrees with the holding in Ricketts, it is free to express its
disagreement with [Ricketts] while nevertheless following its holding and then allow the
Lacroix v. Junior, F17-376; F17-1770
Page 6 of 9

[t]he decision of the district courts of appeal represent the law of Florida unless and until they

are overruled by [the Supreme Court]. Id. (citing Stanfill v. State, 384 So.2d 141, 143 (Fla.

1980)). Thus, in the absence of interdistrict conflict, district court decisions bind all Florida trial

courts. Pardo v. State, 596 So.2d 665, 666 (Fla. 1992).

It is also important to note that, while Ricketts seals off any opportunity for habeas review as

to the legality of immigration detainers by this Court, Mr. Lacroix is not left without an avenue

for possible relief. As explained by the Supreme Court of the United States, the primary federal

habeas corpus statute, 28 U.S.C. 2241, confers jurisdiction upon the federal courts to hear these

cases. Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 687 (2001). And there is no just reason to believe that

[the federal courts] will exhibit any hesitation to exert their [habeas] power when it is properly

invoked. In re Tarble, 80 U.S. 397, 411 (1871). Moreover, federal review of these matters is

imperative for at least two practical reasons. First, it is necessary to preserve the federal

governments constitutional power to establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization. U.S. Const.,

Art. I, 8, cl. 4. By definition, state courts have jurisdiction that, even at its fullest, still ends at

the state line. Thus, if habeas proceedings evaluating the legality of immigration detainers could

proceed in state courts, there would likely be varying and conflicting decisions in different states

with no ability for that conflict to be reconciled absent federal review. Federal courts, on the

other hand, are not similarly constrained.6 Second, requiring that these habeas matters be

Third District Court of Appeals to decide which of the two arguments it finds more
As recent history has shown, even a decision by a single federal district court judge regarding
federal immigration laws can have nationwide application. See Washington v. Trump, Case
No. C17-0141JLR, 2017 WL 462040 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 3, 2017) (granting temporary
restraining order and enjoining enforcement of recently-issued Executive Order on a
nationwide basis so as not to undermine the constitutional imperative of a uniform Rule of
Naturalization (internal quotation omitted)).
Lacroix v. Junior, F17-376; F17-1770
Page 7 of 9

litigated in federal court enables the proper party in interestthe federal governmentto be a

party to the proceedings and address the governments position on constitutional challenges to

any immigration laws. See, e.g., Fed. R. Civ. P. 5.1 (requiring that notice and an opportunity to

intervene be provided to the U.S. Attorney General if a matter draw[s] into question the

constitutionality of a federal statute").

Because this Court lacks jurisdiction over this action, the only function remaining to the

court is that of announcing the fact and dismissing the cause. Ex Parte McCardle, 74 U.S. 506,

514 (1868).

II. Mr. Lacroix Has Not Alleged Any Facts or Raised Any Issues that Would Be Within
this Courts Jurisdiction

While this Court lacks jurisdiction to rule on the legality of a federal detainer, it is not

wholesale foreclosed from all matters related to Mr. Lacroixs detention. For example, this Court

would still have jurisdiction to verify that an immigration detainer had in fact been issued and

that Mr. Lacroix was its subject. See In Re Tarble, 80 U.S. at 410 (permitting limited habeas

review in similar circumstances by state courts to see that the prisoner is held by the officer, in

good faith, under the authority, or claim and color of authority, of the United States, and not

under the mere pretence of having such authority). But, once those facts were verified, the

inquiry would necessarily end. See id. See also Ricketts, 985 So.2d at 593 (recognizing that a

local government, when acting on a federal immigration detainer, will not be holding [the

petitioner] pursuant to state authority but pursuant to federal authority).

None of those issues, however, are applicable to this case because it is undisputed that

Miami-Dade County acted pursuant to a validly issued federal detainer in Mr. Lacroixs name.

See Exhibit B. There are also no allegations that Miami-Dade County failed to act in accordance

with the applicable federal regulations governing detainers or that Miami-Dade County exceeded
Lacroix v. Junior, F17-376; F17-1770
Page 8 of 9

the scope of the detainer request. See Shufty v. State, 419 So.2d 1171, 1171 (Fla. 2d DCA 1982)

([S]ince the provisions of the statute were correctly followed here, we hold that the denial of

appellants petition for writ of habeas corpus was proper.). Accord Mulato-Gonzalez v. Sheriff,

No. CIV A 606CV365, 2007 WL 858759, at *4 (E.D. Tex. Mar. 15, 2007) (denying petition for

writ after finding that there was no violation of federal regulations because petition was no in

custody pursuant to the detainer for more than 48 hours.).

Consequently, Mr. Lacroixs petition amounts to nothing more than a collateral attack on the

legality of federal immigration detainers, which is the issue that Ricketts requires this Court to

leave for federal review.

III. The Petition is Facially Insufficient

In a habeas proceeding the petitioner assumes the burden of a moving party. Matera v.

Buchanan, 192 So.2d 18, 20 (Fla. 3d DCA 1966). That burden is only met when a petitioner

shows by affidavit or evidence probable cause to believe that he or she is detained without

lawful authority. Fla. Stat. 79.01. In his petition, Mr. Lacroix provides neither affidavit nor

evidence. Instead, he simply offers five unsworn, unverified allegations that, standing alone, are

insufficient to establish his entitlement to the writ. See Petition at 2; Polk v. Crockett, 379 So.2d

368 (denying petition as insufficient and noting that it is a general rule that a petition must be

verified). Conversely, Miami-Dade County has shown that Mr. Lacroix only remained in

custody for a brief period lasting approximately 24 hours for the sole purpose of facilitating Mr.

Lacroixs transfer to federal officials. That detention was pursuant to federal authority in the

form of a valid detainer form that is authorized to be issued under federal law, and Miami-Dade

County did not exceed the scope of the detainer. Accordingly, this Court should alternatively

find Mr. Lacroixs petition to be facially insufficient and deny it.

Lacroix v. Junior, F17-376; F17-1770
Page 9 of 9


For the foregoing reasons, binding Florida precedent requires that Mr. Lacroixs petition be

dismissed and that he be directed to raise his challenge in the appropriate forum, the federal


Respectfully submitted,


By: /s/ Michael B. Valdes

Michael B. Valdes
Assistant County Attorney
Florida Bar No. 93129
Miami-Dade County Attorneys Office
111 N.W. 1st Street, Suite 2810
Miami, Florida 33128
Telephone: (305) 375-5151
Fax: (305) 375-5634
E-mail: mbv@miamidade.gov

Certificate of Service

I HEREBY CERTIFY that a true and correct copy of the foregoing Response to Emergency

Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus was served by electronic mail on March 2, 2017 to:

Philip Reizenstein, Esq.

2828 Coral Way, Suite No. 540
Miami, FL 33145
E-mail: philip@miamicriminallaw.net

/s/ Michael B. Valdes

Assistant County Attorney
Miami-Dade County Attorneys Office
Exhibit A
Exhibit B
JAN292017 12:18 P.001/001

-j ~----_.. SID #: FL07094167

Subject 358008792
._)A1 L~ 4 File No: 203 369 494
Event#: 1cRO1701001O46
( ?o 1 ac ~ ? ?- I Date: Saauaxy 29, 2017
I TO: (Name and Title of Institution - OR Any Subsequent Law I FROM: (DHS Office Address)
~ Enforcement Agency) I Ia,0~g. sEMI, 91, DgCtXT COwTsoL ofl:c.
1321 NW 13 STREET
ICNC, FL 33034 I Ia
~kO flCs~ DatAtLe* fleility
1fl61. IN inn ST
NlA~!, 11 33194

Name of Subject. ncaoxx JAMES ~O~NUEL

Date of Birth- 12 29/1971 Suspected or Known Citizerisiri I ______ Sex:~
A. OHS REQUESTS VOLUNTARY TRANSFER OF mE:SUsJccrfiTexb ),?t~C b~1 or2 be/ow):
~ 1. OHS suspects that the subject is an immIgratIon enforcement priority because (mark 3t least one):
C (s)he was apprehended at the border or ports of entry while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States;
U (s)he was apprehended in the United States after unlawfully emtoring nr re-entering the United States after January 1, 2014;
U (s)he has significantly abused the visa or visa waiver program;
U (s)he was issued a final order of removal after January 1,201: arid/nr
~ in the judgment of a designated senior OHS official, his/her re ova. would serve am important federal interest.
LI 2. DHS transfefted the subject to your custody for a proceeding or investigation and, upon completion of that proceeding or
Investigation, OHS intends to resume custody of the subject to complet, processing. ________________-~


1. NOTiFICATION. Pleas, notify DHS as early as practicable (~il Ic. st hc. s ill ssibl before the subject Is released from your

custody to allow OHS an opportunity to determine whether there is probable cause to conclude that (s)he is a removable alien.
NOTE: This voluntary notification request does not request or authnrizo that you dni3in.the subject beyond the time he or she is
currently scheduled for release from your custody. ________________

2. DETAINER, Please serve a copy of this form on the subject ar ~ custody of himlher for a period NOT TO EXCEED
48 HOURS beyond the time when helshe would otherwise have be rl &Qm your custody to allow OHS to assume custody.
Probable cause exists that the subject is a removable alien. This t. :cn a is based on (check at least one box below);
~ a final ardor of removal against the subject;
C the pendency of ongoing removal proceedings against (h -

~ biometric confirmation of the subjects identity ~nd a ro cc fr !:rI;,~n~~~ that affirmatively indicate, by

themselves or in addition to other reliable inform,,i that Jon status or notwithstanding such
status is removable under U.S. immigration law; anu,or
U statements made voluntarily by the subject to an immigra I- if a t/er c:cr rc~ablc cvidence that affirmatively
indicate the subject either lacks immigration status or notwitl r ~
S rcr,,vable under US. immigration law,
NOTE: This request takes effect only if you serve a copy of this for n I ,cct, -. d it does not request or authorIze that you
hold the subject beyond 48 hours.
This request arises from OHS authorities and should not impac: cc ;about the subjects bail, rehabilitation, parole,
release, diversion, custody classification, work, quarter as~ ,thcr mattcrs.
As early as possible prior to the time you otherwise w rid rele: IC rin 1)1-IS by calling i~ U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE) or C U.S. Customs wi der I ~1 ________________________

If you cannot roach an official at the number(s) pros I, pleas C v U Support Center at: (802)8724020.
Please notify this office in the event of thc subjects ~ojth, hon I ) . or iii~ lution

oIf checked: Please cancel the detalner related to this subject p Ic 170 31 /
____________ (date).
J 8270 GUARDINO - Deportation Off jeer
V &n~j9~
(Name and title of ImmIgration Officer)
Notice: If the subject is taken into OHS custody, he or she may be r
.1 T (Signr,iurc orlrvimigratlon Officer)

crime or you want the subject to remain in the United States for a Ic
-icfl ted Stcs. If thc~ subject maybe thevictim of a
~ pi- ass notify-the ICE Law Enforcement
Support Center at (802) 8724020, You may also call thlr rnbor r as or concerns about this matter.
Please provide the information below, sign. and return $ by I
Local Booking/Inmate # I1/r29 l
(I VEst. release dato/~nic:
--;un~Ichurge/oon~4c6on: __________

Arresting agency, if available, and latest offense tharg~i ~onvictcc~

If Box B.2. is chocked above, please indicate the m~rir irs aryl C nc u s& ,i1447X was served upon the subject:
CI In person C by inmate mail delivery q.6cr FtJY-eit t;.ric;; : specify) date:
, . ____________________________

crtm. IYI skci- Ciiiird, /sm ,n,

______ (Name and title of Oflicer)
OHS Form l-247X (08/15) Page 1 of 3
efL. TOTAL P.001
Exhibit C
3/2/2017 InmateProfileSystem




Sex:M Race:B Eye:BRO Weight:151Lbs
DOB:12/29/1971 Hair:BLK Height:5'7"

JailNumber:170124077 CIN:992133 Location:
DateBooked:01/28/2017 TimeBooked:05:45
DateReleased:03/01/2017 TimeReleased:11:25
ClicktoEnlarge ClicktoEnlarge
CaseNumber:F17001770 Bond:$5000**
WarrantCase:F17000376 Desc:Seeremarksbelow Bond:N/A**
WarrantCase:F17000376 Desc:Seeremarksbelow Bond:N/A**





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