Hatfield v. USA
ORDER denying 60 Motion for Reconsideration/Relief from Judgment ; granting 69 Motion to Dismiss. Signed by Judge David R. Herndon on 11/8/2017. (kmb2)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
REX I. HATFIELD
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
HERNDON, District Judge:
Before the Court is petitioner Rex Hatfield’s (“petitioner”) Motion for Relief
from Judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6) (Doc. 60), and the
government’s Motion to Dismiss Petitioner’s Rule 60(b)(6) Motion (Doc. 69).
Based on the following, petitioner’s Rule 60(b)(6) Motion (Doc. 60) is DENIED for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction; and, the government’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc.
69) is GRANTED.
On December 3, 2010, petitioner was sentenced to a total of 360-months
imprisonment followed by 3-years of supervised release after being found guilty of
one count of Conspiracy to Unlawfully Enter Pharmacies to Steal Controlled
Substances pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2118(b), (d) and one count of Conspiracy to
Possess with Intent to Distribute and Distribution of Controlled Substances
pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C) and 846. See Amended Judgment,
United States v. Hatfield et al., No. 3:08-cr-30020-DRH-PMF-2 (S.D. Ill. Mar. 23,
2009), ECF No. 330.
On June 8, 2017, petitioner filed a Rule 60(b)(6) Motion for Relief from
Judgment arguing he was sentenced in error—under both United States v. Lawler,
818 F.3d 281 (7th Cir. 2016) and Krieger v. United States, 842 F.3d 490 (7th Cir.
2016) (Doc. 60 at 3). Specifically, petitioner argued that defense counsel objected
to the 2D1.1 United States Sentencing Guideline enhancement applied during
sentencing in the event a change in the law was to occur (Doc. 60 at 4). Petitioner
contends under Lawler, the Court erred by applying § 2D1.1(a)(2) because death
was not a result of a conviction for distribution of heroin and conspiracy to
possess heroin with intent to deliver (Id.); and further, under Krieger, Lawler is
now retroactive (Id. at 5).
For relief, petitioner requests vacation of the §
2D1.1(a)(2) enhancement (Id. at 7).
In response, the government filed a Motion to Dismiss the Rule 60(b)
motion on the ground of procedural default because petitioner failed to raise—on
direct appeal—that the determination of his base level offense enhanced by §
2D1.1(a)(2) should have been proven “beyond a reasonable doubt” as opposed to
“preponderance of the evidence” (Doc. 69). The government points out petitioner
could not have raised his instant Rule 60(b) argument during direct appeal
because, at the time, the § 2D1.1(a)(2) enhancement was applied properly (Id. at
Further, petitioner’s motion—while labeled “Motion Pursuant to Rule
60(b)(6)”—in actuality is a successive 28 U.S.C. § 2255 petition for habeas relief,
and neither Lawler nor Krieger announce a new and retroactive rule of
constitutional law required under Rule 60(b) (Id. at 7-9).
As a result, the
government requests dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (Id. at 9).
Rule 60 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the method for
obtaining relief from final judgments, see FED. R. CIV. P. 60; see also Wesco Prods.
Co. v. Alloy Auto. Co., 880 F.2d 981, 983 (7th Cir. 1989), and is accessible to
litigants who intend to reinstate previously dismissed habeas petitions “provided
that the ground on which relief is sought does not attack the substance of a
court’s resolution of a claim on the merits[.]” See Arrieta v Battaglia, 461 F.3d
861, 864 (7th Cir. 2006).
Rule 60(b)(6), known as the “catchall clause,”
authorizes relief from judgment for any other reason—not included in Rule
60(b)(1)-(5)—that justifies relief, and may be granted only under extraordinary
circumstances. See Nash v. Hepp, 740 F.3d 1075, 1078 (7th Cir. 2014); see also
Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 535 (2005) (explaining movant seeking relief
under Rule 60(b)(6) must show “extraordinary circumstances” to justify reopening
of final judgment; such circumstances rarely occur in habeas context).
Here, petitioner vies the ground for reopening his amended judgment is an
alleged sentencing enhancement error. 1
However, the Court agrees with the
government and construes the instant Rule 60(b)(6) motion as a successive §
Petitioner argues his base offense level under the § 2D1.1(a)(2) enhancement guideline should
have been proven “beyond a reasonable doubt” as modified by Lawler. See Lawler, 818 F.3d at
285 (“holding that §2D1.1(a)(2) applies only when a resulting death (or serious bodily injury) was
an element of the crime of conviction, proven beyond a reasonable doubt or admitted by the
2255 petition for habeas relief—filed without first obtaining permission from the
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and one which is subject to immediate
dismissal. 2 E.g., Lambert v. Davis, 449 F.3d 774, 777 (7th Cir. 2006) (stating
unless court of appeals has given approval for filing, district court must dismiss
second or successive habeas petition). The Court’s conclusion is supported by
petitioner’s very own assertion explaining failure to raise the Lawler issue on
direct appeal. In other words, petitioner admitted he was unable to previously
raise the instant matter “pre-Lawler” because—at the time of his sentencing—§
2D1.1(a)(2) enhancement was analyzed under a different standard. 3,4 Cf. Lawler,
818 F.3d at 284 (the holding in Lawler changed prior relevant offense conduct
determination for § 2D1.1(a)(2) death-resulting sentence enhancement from
“preponderance of the evidence” to “beyond a reasonable doubt”).
Under Castro v. United States, 540 U.S. 375 (2003), “[f]ederal courts
sometimes will ignore the legal label that a pro se litigant attaches to a motion and
recharacterize the motion in order to place it within a different legal category.” Id.
at 381. Therefore, the Court places petitioner’s “self-styled” Rule 60(b) motion in
the category of successive § 2255 petitions since the motion directly challenges the
Petitioner’s first § 2255 petition was denied by this Court October 7, 2014, see Doc. 38.
Petitioner’s second § 2255 petition was denied by the Seventh Circuit March 27, 2015, see Doc.
Petitioner stated, “[h]owever, in this case a direct appeal would have been fruitless because
2D1.1(a)(2) applied as an enhancement was Seventh Circuit precedent at the time of the Hatfield’s
re sentencing (sic)” (Doc. 60 at 6).
Moreover, petitioner is procedurally defaulted from raising the Lawler-modification claim
because, generally, issues not raised on direct appeal are prohibited from being raised on
collateral review. See Massaro v. United States, 538 U.S. 500, 504 (2003); see, e.g. Farmer v.
United States, 867 F.3d 837, 842 (7th Cir. 2017) (stating new issues on appeal must overcome
legitimacy of the rendered sentence, see Guyton v. United States, 453 F.3d 425,
426-27 (7th Cir. 2006) (explaining substance of party’s submission takes
precedence over form; any motion filed in district court that imposed sentence
and is substantively within scope of § 2255 is a motion under § 2255 no matter
what title inmate plasters on the cover), and falls squarely under the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act’s requirement of being dismissed.
See Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 529-30 (“any claim that has not already been
adjudicated must be dismissed unless it relies on either a new and retroactive
rule of constitutional law or new facts showing a high probability of actual
Although petitioner maintains defense counsel preserved the § 2D1.1(a)(2)
enhancement issue by objecting during sentencing; in order to adequately
preserve a claim for appellate review, said claim must be raised both at trial and
on direct appeal —a requirement petitioner failed to accomplish. 6 See Murray v.
Carrier, 477 U.S. 478, 491 (1986) (explaining defendants are required to initially
raise all legal claims on direct appeal not post-conviction review).
petitioner has neither demonstrated “cause” nor “actual prejudice” in order to
gain access to procedural default exceptions. See United States v. Kovic, 830 F.2d
The Court notes that neither Lawler nor Krieger announce a new and retroactive rule of
Defense counsel objected to the absence of a jury finding as to the evidentiary standard of proof
regarding the victims’ death, however, at the time, the holding in Lawler did not exist. Therefore,
defense counsel’s contemporaneous objection does not apply.
Based on the foregoing, petitioner’s Motion for Relief from Judgment
pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6) (Doc. 60) is DENIED for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction; and the government’s Motion to Dismiss Petitioner’s Rule 60(b)(6)
(Doc. 69) is GRANTED.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A), “[b]efore a second or successive
application permitted by this section is filed in the district court, the applicant
shall move in the appropriate court of appeals for an order authorizing the
district court to consider the application.” Id. (emphasis added).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Digitally signed by
Judge David R. Herndon
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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