Ortiz v. Phelps et al
MEMORANDUM RE 21 MOTION for Relief from Judgment re 20 Order Dismissing Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus - filed by Carlos Ortiz. Signed by Judge Leonard P. Stark on 8/11/2014. (rpg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
Civ. Act. No. 08-487-LPS
DAVID PIERCE, Warden, and JOSEPH
R. BIDEN, III, Attorney General
of the State of Delaware,
Pending before the Court is Petitioner Carlos Ortiz's ("Petitioner") Motion for
Reconsideration Filed Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) regarding the dismissal
of his time-barred Petition. (D.I. 21) For the reasons discussed, the Court will deny the Rule
In 2008, Petitioner filed a Petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 seeking relief from his Delaware state convictions for, inter alia, first degree rape, attempted
first degree rape, first degree kidnapping, first degree burglary, endangering the welfare of a child,
and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. (D.I. 1) The Petition asserted the
following three grounds for relief: (1) the trial court violated Petitioner's due process rights under
Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004), by permitting the State to introduce his children's out-ofcourt statements during the trial, because the children were present and able to be cross-examined;
(2) the State violated Brac!J v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), by withholding exculpatory evidence
from the defense, namely, a prior inconsistent statement made by his son to an investigator with
Delaware Family Services; and (3) defense counsel provided ineffective assistance. On October 9,
2009, the Honorable Joseph]. Farnan, Jr. denied the Petition after concluding that it was timebarred by the one-year statute of limitations prescribed in 28 U.S.C. § 2244. (D.I. 19; D.I. 20)
Petitioner filed a Rule 60(b)(6) Motion for Reconsideration on February 11, 2014. (D.I. 21)
The Motion is ready for review.
LEGAL ST AND ARDS
A motion for reconsideration filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) "allows
a party to seek relief from a final judgment, and request reopening of his case, under a limited set of
circumstances including fraud, mistake, and newly discovered evidence." GonZfllez v. Crosby, 545 U.S.
524, 528 (2005). Rule 60(b) motions are addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court, and are
guided by accepted legal principles applied in light of all relevant circumstances. See Pierce Ass'n., Inc.
v. Nemours f'ound., 865 F.2d 530, 548 (3d Cir. 1988).
Here, Petitioner filed his Motion under Rule 60(b)(6), the "catch-all" provision of Rule
60(b). Rule 60(b)(6) permits a party to seek reconsideration for "any other reason [other than the
specific circumstances set out in Rules 60(b)(1)-(5)] that justifies relief' from the operation of the
judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6); GonzaleZJ 545 U.S. at 529. The Third Circuit has consistently
held that Rule 60(b)(6) provides "extraordinary relief' that is only available in "exceptional
circumstances." Coltec Indus., Inc. v. Hobgood, 280 F.3d 262, 273 (3d Cir. 2002).
Moreover, a Rule 60(b)(6) motion must be filed within a "reasonable time," 1 which is
determined by considering the interest of finality, the reason for delay, the practical ability of the
litigant to learn earlier of the grounds relied upon, and the consideration of prejudice, if any, to other
parties. See Dietsch v. United States, 2 F. Supp. 2d 627, 633 (D.N.J. 1988). As a general matter, a Rule
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(c)(l); Delzona Corp. v. Sacks, 265 F.2d 157, 159 (3d Cir. 1959).
60(b)(6) motion filed more than one year after final judgment is untimely unless "extraordinary
circumstances" excuse the party's failure to proceed sooner. See general!J Acke1711an v. United States,
340 U.S. 193, 202 (1950).
In the instant Rule 60(b)(6) Motion, Petitioner asserts that his habeas proceeding should be
reopened pursuant to Martinez v. Ryan, 132 S.Ct. 1309 (2012), and that the Court should review the
merits of the three claims that were denied as time-barred. In Martinet; 132 S.Ct. at 1320, the
Supreme Court held for the first time that inadequate assistance of counsel during an initial-review
state collateral proceeding may establish cause for a petitioner's procedural default of a claim of
ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Liberally construing the instant Rule 60(b) Motion, the Court
interprets Petitioner's argument to be that Martinez constitutes an intervening change in the law that
amounts to an extraordinary circumstance justifying relief under Rule 60(b)(6).
This argument is unavailing. First, citing Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(c)(1), the Third
Circuit recently opined that a Rule 60(b)(6) motion for reconsideration based on Martinez will fail
unless it "was brought within a reasonable time of that decision." Cox v. Horn, __ F.3d __ , 2014
WL 3865836, at *1 (3d Cir. Aug. 7, 2014). The instant Rule 60(b)(6) Motion was filed on February
11, 2014, approximately one year and eleven months after the issuance of the Martinez decision on
March 20, 2012. Although the Third Circuit did not define what constitutes a reasonable time for
filing a Rule 60(b)(6) motion premised on MartineZ; the Court concludes that waiting almost two full
years after Martinez to file the instant Motion does not satisfy the "reasonable time" requirement. See
Moolenaar v. Gov't of the V.I., 822 F.2d 1342, 1348 (3d Cir. 1987) (holding that two-year delay was not
reasonable time to bring Rule 60(b)(6) motion); Acke17l1an, 340 U.S. at 202. The Court also notes
that Petitioner has not presented any reason for his delay. See Azbuko v. Bunker Hill Cm(y. Coll, 442
F. App'x 643, 644 (3d Cir. 2011) (per curiam) ("[B]ecause [plaintiff] has provided no explanation for
his delay in filing, we agree with the District Court that he has not filed his motion within a
reasonable time of the order that he seeks to challenge."); Choi v. Kim, 258 F. App'x 413, 415 (3d Cir.
2007). Thus, the Court concludes that Petitioner's Rule 60(b)(6) Motion is untimely.
Moreover, pursuant to Cox, a district court reviewing a prisoner's Rule 60(b)(6) motion
"may consider whether the conviction and initial federal habeas proceeding were only recently
completed or ended years ago." Cox, 2014 WL 3865836, at *10. As explained by the Third Circuit,
"[c]onsiderations of repose and finality become stronger the longer a decision has been settled." Id.
Here, Petitioner's conviction was affirmed in January 2004 and his original Petition was dismissed
on October 9, 2009. Considering the significant amount of time that has elapsed between the
dismissal of his Petition and the Martinez decision, the Court concludes that the rare relief afforded
under Rule 60(b)(6) is not warranted.
For all of these reasons, the Court concludes that the instant Rule 60(b)(6) Motion is timebarred.
For the aforementioned reasons, the Court will deny Petitioner's Rule 60(b)(6) Motion for
Reconsideration. In addition, the Court will not issue a certificate of appealability, because
Petitioner has failed to make a "substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right." 28
U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2); see United States v.
113 F.3d 470 (3d Cir. 1997); 3d Cir. LAR 22.2 (2011). A
separate Order will be entered.
Dated: August 11, 2014
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