Casiano v. USA
ORDER: The Court declines to issue a Certificate of Appealability for Petitioner to appeal 33 Order on Motion to Alter Judgment, or 42 Order on Motion for Miscellaneous Relief. The Clerk is directed to mail a copy of this order to the pro se Petitioner. Signed by Judge Janet Bond Arterton on 05/01/2014.(Bonneau, J)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Civil No. 3:11cv73 (JBA)
May 1, 2014
RULING ON CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
On November 16, 2011, Judge Kravitz1 denied Petitioner Eduardo Casiano’s
federal habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and declined to issue a Certificate of
Appealability (“COA”) with respect to that ruling. (See Habeas Ruling [Doc. # 18] at 10–
11.) In the context of that ruling, Judge Kravitz also denied Petitioner’s motion to
supplement the record, and declined to hold an evidentiary hearing, relying instead on a
detailed affidavit submitted by Petitioner’s former counsel to decide Petitioner’s
ineffective assistance of counsel claims. (Id. at 3, 10.) Petitioner subsequently filed a
motion [Doc. # 20] to alter or amend the judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure, which Judge Kravitz construed as a procedural attack on the
habeas ruling based on his denial of Petitioner’s motion to supplement. On August 6,
2012, Judge Kravitz denied Petitioner’s Rule 59(e) motion, noting that Petitioner had
been able to produce hundreds of pages of additional documents even though his
discovery requests were denied, and concluding that none of the supplemental
documents submitted in the context of the Rule 59(e) motion changed the fact that the
evidence against him at trial was “crushing” and the performance of his counsel was
constitutionally effective. (Rule 59(e) Ruling [Doc. # 33] at 3.) However, Judge Kravitz
This matter was transferred to the undersigned on January 28, 2013.
did not address whether or not a COA should issue with respect to his denial of
Petitioner’s Rule 59(e) motion.
After this case was transferred to the undersigned, Petitioner also filed a motion
[Doc. # 38] for relief from judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. The Court construed this motion as a procedural attack on Judge Kravitz’s
decision not to hold an evidentiary hearing when denying Petitioner’s § 2255 petition.
(Rule 60(b) Ruling [Doc. # 42] at 3–4.)
On October 25, 2013, the Court denied
Petitioner’s motion, based on Second Circuit precedent holding that a district court may
properly rely on a detailed affidavit from trial counsel when evaluating a claim for
ineffective assistance of counsel. (Id. at 6–7 (citing Chang v. United States, 250 F.3d 79, 86
(2d Cir. 2001); Puglisi v. United States, 586 F.3d 209, 214 (2d Cir. 2009).) However, the
Court did not address whether or not a COA should issue with respect to the denial of
Petitioner’s Rule 60(b) motion. The Court now rules that Petitioner is not entitled to a
COA with respect to the denial of either of his post-judgment motions for relief.
For a COA to issue under 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2), Petitioner must make a
“substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.” Id. In order to sustain this
burden, Petitioner would have to show “that reasonable jurists could debate whether . . .
the petition should have been resolved in a different manner or that the issues presented
were adequate to deserve encouragement to proceed further.” Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S.
473, 484 (2000) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). “In the context of a
denial of a Rule 60(b) [or Rule 59(e)] motion, a substantial showing that the district court
abused its discretion indicates that the appeal has the threshold quantum of merit to go
forward. . . . [A] COA should issue only if the petitioner shows that (1) jurists of reason
would find it debatable whether the district court abused its discretion in denying the
Rule 60(b) [or Rule 59(e)] motion, and (2) jurists of reason would find it debatable
whether the underlying habeas petition, in light of the grounds alleged to support the
60(b) [or 59(e)] motion, states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right.”
Kellogg v. Strack, 269 F.3d 100, 104 (2d Cir. 2001); see also Jackson v. Albany Appeal
Bureau Unit, 442 F.3d 51, 54 (2d Cir. 2006) (applying the same standard to a denial of a
Rule 59(e) motion).
With respect to the Rule 59(e) motion, Rule 6 of the Rules Governing Section
2255 Proceedings grant the district court discretion as to whether to permit discovery in a
§ 2255 case. Petitioner failed to provide any reason for why the requested discovery was
necessary or why he was requesting the original documents months after his habeas
petition was fully joined. Even if Petitioner could show that it was an abuse of discretion
to deny his motion to supplement the record, Petitioner was subsequently able to provide
the Court with hundreds of additional documents in the context of his Rule 59(e) motion.
Judge Kravitz considered those documents in ruling on the motion and held that they did
nothing to change the “crushing” nature of the evidence presented against Petitioner at
trial. Because Petitioner was ultimately able to supplement the record, he has not met his
burden to establish that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether Judge Kravitz
abused his discretion in denying the Rule 59(e) motion or whether Petitioner had stated a
valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right in his underlying habeas petition. The
Court therefore declines to issue a COA permitting Petitioner to appeal the August 6,
With respect to the Rule 60(b) motion, the Second Circuit has repeatedly held that
a district court may properly rely on a Petitioner’s submissions and a detailed affidavit
from trial counsel when evaluating a claim for ineffective assistance of counsel without
holding an evidentiary hearing, particularly where the original trial judge presides over
the habeas petition. See Chang v. United States, 250 F.3d 79, 86 (2d Cir. 2001) (“It was
therefore, within the district court’s discretion to choose a middle road that avoided the
delay, the needless expenditure of judicial resources, the burden on trial counsel and the
government, and perhaps the encouragement of other prisoners to make similar baseless
claims that would have resulted from a full testimonial hearing. The district court
reasonably decided that the testimony of Chang and his trial counsel would add little or
nothing to the written submissions.”); Puglisi v. United States, 586 F.3d 209, 214 (2d Cir.
2009) (“We have also held that when the judge that tried the underlying proceedings also
presides over the Section 2255 motion, a less-than-full-fledged evidentiary hearing may
permissibly dispose of claims where the credibility assessment would inevitably be
adverse to the petitioner.”). Furthermore, Petitioner failed to identify any independent
source of evidence to contradict the claims in trial counsel’s affidavit that could have
necessitated a hearing. Therefore, Petitioner has not met his burden to establish that
jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the Court abused its discretion in
denying the Rule 60(b) motion or whether Petitioner had stated a valid claim of the denial
of a constitutional right in his underlying habeas petition. The Court therefore declines
to issue a COA permitting Petitioner to appeal the October 25, 2013 ruling.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Janet Bond Arterton, U.S.D.J.
Dated at New Haven, Connecticut this 1st day of May, 2014.
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