Madison v. Allen et al
ORDER denying 43 Motion for Reconsideration/to Alter or Amend Judgment as set out.. Signed by Judge Kristi K. DuBose on 4/25/2011. (copy to petitioner) (cmj)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
Commissioner of the Alabama
Department of Corrections, and the
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE
STATE OF ALABAMA
CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:09-00009-KD-B
This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Vernon Madison (“Madison”)’s “Motion to
Alter or Amend Judgment” (Doc. 43), filed pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e). Madison moves
On March 21, 2011, this Court entered an order and a judgment denying Madison’s habeas
petition, filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Docs. 41-42). Madison filed his motion to alter or
amend that order and judgment on April 18, 2011, within Rule 59(e)’s 28-day filing period. For
the reasons stated below, Madison’s Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment (“Rule 59(e) motion”)
is DENIED in part and DISMISSED in part or, alternatively, DENIED in its entirety.
Claims Barred for Lack of Jurisdiction
The Court finds that it does not have jurisdiction to consider the claims raised in
Madison’s Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend its judgment denying his § 2254 habeas petition,
with the exception of Madison’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.
With regard to motions for relief from a judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60 made in
habeas cases, the Eleventh Circuit has written:
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60 provides a basis, but only a
limited basis, for a party to seek relief from a final judgment in a
habeas case. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 60. The Supreme Court explained
in Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524 . . . (2005), that the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure apply to habeas proceedings to the extent
that they are "not inconsistent with applicable federal statutory
provisions," id. at 529 . . . (quoting 28 §U.S.C. 2254 Rule 11)
(internal marks omitted), and the Antiterrorism and Effective
Death Penalty Act does not explicitly limit the operation of Rule
60(b). Id. The Act does, nonetheless, foreclose application of that
rule where it would be inconsistent with the restrictions imposed
on successive petitions by the AEDPA. Id. at 529—30 . . .
The Supreme Court held in Gonzalez that a Rule 60(b) motion is to
be treated as a successive habeas petition if it: (1) "seeks to add a
new ground of relief;" or (2) "attacks the federal court's previous
resolution of a claim on the merits." Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 532 . . .
Where, however, a Rule 60(b) motion "attacks, not the substance
of the federal court's resolution of a claim on the merits, but some
defect in the integrity of the federal habeas proceedings," the
motion is not a successive habeas petition. Id. A "claim," as
described by the Court in Gonzalez, is "an asserted federal basis
for relief from a state court's judgment of conviction." Id. at 530 . .
. The Supreme Court further explained in Gonzalez that:
The term "on the merits" has multiple usages. We
refer here to a determination that there exist or do
not exist a grounds entitling a petitioner to habeas
corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a) and (b).
When a movant asserts one of those grounds (or
asserts that a previous ruling regarding one of those
grounds was in error) he is making a habeas corpus
claim. He is not doing so when he merely asserts
that a previous ruling which precluded a merits
determination was in error--for example, a
denial for such reasons as failure to exhaust,
procedural default, or statute-of-limitations bar.
Id. at 532 n.4 . . .
When a Rule 60(b) motion qualifies as a second or successive
habeas petition as defined in Gonzalez, it must comply with the
requirements for such petitions under the AEDPA. See 28 U.S.C. §
2244 . . . [One such requirement is that] before a district court
can accept a successive habeas petition, "the court of appeals
must determine that it presents a claim not previously raised
that is sufficient to meet § 2244(b)(2)'s new-rule or actualinnocence provisions." Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 530 . . . ; see also 28
U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3).
Williams v. Chatman, 510 F.3d 1290, 1293-94 (11th Cir. 2007) (emphasis added).
Though Williams specifically addresses Rule 60(b) motions, the Southern District of
Alabama has held that the “jurisdictional prohibition on Rule 60(b) motions in the habeas context
applies with equal force to Rule 59(e) motions.” Aird v. United States, 339 F. Supp. 2d 1305,
1311 (S.D. Ala. 2004) (Steele, J.). Accord Ellis v. Endicott, No. 07-C-882, 2007 WL 3348597,
at *1, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85240, at *2-3 (E.D. Wis. Nov. 7, 2007); Banks v. Wolfe, No.
2:05-cv-006972006, 2006 WL 2773234, at *3-5, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68824, at *10-15 (S.D.
Ohio Sept. 25, 2006). But see Thomas v. Owens, No. 5:08-CV-414 (CAR), 2009 WL 3747162,
at *2 n.1, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103683, at *6-8 n.1 (M.D. Ga. Nov. 4, 2009) (noting Aird but
finding the court “has habeas jurisdiction to entertain a Rule 59(e) motion for reconsideration.”).1
Thus, the Court finds that it does not have jurisdiction over the claims Madison raises in
his Rule 59(e) motion, with the exception of his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.
These non-excepted claims seek to either “add  new ground[s] of relief or . . . attack the
federal court's previous resolution of  claim[s] on the merits.” Williams, 510 F.3d at 12931294 (internal quotations omitted). As such, they must collectively be considered a successive
habeas petition, which this Court cannot accept without leave of a higher court. See id. at 1294.
It should be noted that Aird applied the “jurisdictional prohibition on Rule 60(b)
motions in the habeas context” laid out in Gonzalez v. Secretary for the Department of
Corrections, 366 F.3d 1253, 1281-1282 (11th Cir. 2004), Aird, 339 F. Supp. 2d at 1309-11,
which was later substantially affirmed by the United States Supreme Court in Gonzalez v.
Crosby, supra, albeit with some elaboration and the requirement of additional analysis as to what
constitutes a habeas “claim.” This Court has determined that this history does not affect the
fundamental holding in Aird that the jurisdictional restrictions placed on Rule 60(b) motions by
the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 apply with equal force to Rule 59(e)
Therefore, all claims raised in Madison’s Rule 59(e) motion, with the exception of his ineffective
assistance of counsel claims, are due to be DISMISSED for lack of jurisdiction by this Court.
The Court finds that Madison’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel are not
considered part of a successive habeas petition, as they do not “attack the federal court's
previous resolution of  claim[s] on the merits.” Id. at 1294. In this Court’s order denying
Madison’s habeas petition, Madison’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel were deemed
“defaulted in state court pursuant to independent and adequate state procedural grounds” and
were therefore “procedurally barred in this Court.” (Doc. 41 at 18). As was noted in Gonzalez
v. Crosby, such an adjudication is not a resolution on the merits. See 545 U.S. at 532 n.4.
Therefore, the Court finds that it can further consider Madison’s ineffective assistance of counsel
claims raised in his Rule 59(e) motion.
Claims Fail on the Merits
The decision to grant or deny a Rule 59(e) motion is committed to the sound discretion of
the district court. See Stewart v. Lastaiti, No. 10-12571, 2010 WL 4244064, at *1, 2010 U.S.
App. LEXIS 22542, at *1 (11th Cir. Oct. 28, 2010) (citing Lambert v. Fulton Cnty., Ga., 253
F.3d 588, 598 (11th Cir. 2001)). “The only grounds for a district court to grant a motion to alter
or amend judgment are new evidence and manifest error . . . A Rule 59(e) motion cannot be used
to relitigate old matters, raise argument or present evidence that could have been raised prior to
the entry of judgment." Id. at WL *1, LEXIS *1-2 (internal quotations omitted) (citing Arthur v.
King, 500 F.3d 1335, 1343 (11th Cir. 2007)).
With regard to his ineffective assistance of counsel claims, Madison asks this Court to
“reconsider its decision finding th[ese] claim[s] procedurally barred, address the claim[s] on the
merits, and grant [him] habeas corpus relief.” (Doc. 43 at 23). However, Madison has pointed to
no new evidence, nor has he identified any manifest error, that would give the Court reason to
reconsider its determination that his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, as raised in his
habeas petition, are procedurally barred.
Assuming, in contrast to the Court’s earlier finding, that Madison’s remaining claims in
his Rule 59(e) motion do not constitute an impermissible successive habeas petition, the Court
finds that Madison is due no relief on these claims either. He has neither presented new evidence
nor shown manifest error sufficient to justify granting his motion, and his arguments attempting
to show the merit of these claims either were not raised in his original habeas petition, though
they could have been, or have already been raised in his petition and addressed by this Court.
Thus, Madison’s claims in his Rule 59(e) motion are meritless, and his motion is due to
For the foregoing reasons, the Court concludes that the ineffective assistance of counsel
claims in Madison’s Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment (Doc. 43) are meritless, and it is
ORDERED that they are DENIED. The Court finds that it lacks jurisdiction to consider the
remaining claims in Madison’s Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment (Doc. 43); therefore, it is
ORDERED that these claims are DISMISSED. Alternatively, even if the Court has jurisdiction
over all his claims, Madison's grounds for seeking relief from judgment are meritless, and it is
ORDERED that the Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment (Doc. 43) is DENIED in its entirety.
DONE and ORDERED this the 25th day of April, 2011.
s/ Kristi K. DuBose
KRISTI K. DuBOSE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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