ARREOLA-CASTILLO v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
ENTRY Concerning Selected Matters. The motion to alter or amend judgment [dkt 43] is denied. The notice of appeal filed on February 14, 2017, [dkt 41], shall now be processed as a notice of appeal from the final judgment issued on January 11, 2017 . The motions for extension of time in which to file a notice of appeal [dkt 41 and dkt 44] are denied as moot. The request for leave to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis [dkt 42] is denied. Signed by Judge Larry J. McKinney on 2/27/2017. Copy sent to Petitioner via US Mail. (LDH)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Case No. 1:14-cv-2118-LJM-DML
Entry Concerning Selected Matters
Applying the prison mailbox rule, the petitioner’s motion to alter or amend judgment/
motion for relief from judgment filed with the clerk on February 14, 2017, can be considered to
have been filed on the date it was signed, February 8, 2017. This was within 28 calendar days after
the docketing of judgment denying the petitioner’s motion for relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.
Given the timing and the content of the post-judgment motion filed with the clerk on
February 14, 2017, relative to the Entry of Judgment entered on the clerk’s docket, that filing is
treated as a motion to alter or amend judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. See Borrero v. City of Chicago, 456 F.3d 698, 701-02 (7th Cir. 2006) (explaining that
whether a motion filed within the time period contemplated by Rule 59(e) should be analyzed
under Rule 59(e) or Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure depends on the substance
of the motion, not on the timing or label affixed to it).
A motion to alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59(e) “must be filed no later than 28
days after the entry of the judgment.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e). The purpose of a motion to alter or
amend a judgment under Rule 59(e) is to ask the Court to reconsider matters “properly
encompassed in a decision on the merits.” Osterneck v. Ernst & Whinney, 489 U.S. 169, 174
(1989). “A Rule 59(e) motion will be successful only where the movant clearly establishes: (1)
that the court committed a manifest error of law or fact, or (2) that newly discovered evidence
precluded entry of judgment.” Cincinnati Life Ins. Co. v. Beyrer, 722 F.3d 939, 954 (7th Cir. 2013)
(citation and quotation marks omitted). Relief pursuant to a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend is
an “extraordinary remed[y] reserved for the exceptional case.” Foster v. DeLuca, 545 F.3d 582,
584 (7th Cir. 2008). A Rule 59(e) motion may be used “to draw the district court's attention to a
manifest error of law or fact or to newly discovered evidence.” United States v. Resnick, 594 F.3d
562, 568 (7th Cir. 2010). A manifest error “is not demonstrated by the disappointment of the losing
party. It is the wholesale disregard, misapplication, or failure to recognize controlling precedent.”
Oto v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000) (citation and quotation marks
In this instance, the petitioner challenged his enhanced sentence and specifically argued
that his prior New Mexico conviction in No. D-412-CR-11995-0049 was vacated on June 29, 2015,
that other felony New Mexico drug convictions had been vacated on November 19, 2014, and that
these facts made his sentence enhanced to mandatory life pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851 invalid.
21 U.S C § 851 regulates the use of prior convictions to enhance sentences pursuant to §
841(b)(1). One manner in which that use is regulated is the establishment of a time limit for
challenging prior convictions. Specifically, “[n]o person who stands convicted of an offense under
this part may challenge the validity of any prior conviction alleged under this section which
occurred more than five years before the date of the information alleging such prior conviction.”
21 U.S.C. § 851(e). This limitation has been upheld against constitutional challenge. See, e.g.,
United States v. Cheek, 740 F.3d 440, 452 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 134 S. Ct. 2152 (2014). And
this limits Arreola-Castillo’s ability to challenge the use of his prior convictions, the New Mexico
convictions. The Court previously explained how the § 851(e) limitation applied in this case:
Here, the § 851 Information was filed on May 22, 2006 in No. 1:05-cr-64-SEBDKL-7 and a second § 851 Information was filed on June 14, 2006. The prior
convictions identified in these Informations were entered in 1995. As the United
States argues, this was several years before the close of the five-year window set
out on § 851(e). These convictions, insofar as used to support the § 851
enhancements sought by the United States and ultimately imposed, are beyond
challenge here. Arreola-Castillo’s argument otherwise would simply read the
limitation out of the statute.
Relief through a Rule 59(e) motion for reconsideration is an “extraordinary remed[y] reserved for
the exceptional case.” Foster v. DeLuca, 545 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2008). This is not such a case.
Rule 59(e) “authorizes relief when a moving party ‘clearly establish[es] either a manifest
error of law or fact’ or ‘present[s] newly discovered evidence.’” Souter v. Int’l Union, 993 F.2d
595, 599 (7th Cir. 1993) (quoting Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp. v. Meyer, 781 F.2d 1260, 1268 (7th Cir.
1986)). A “manifest error” means “wholesale disregard, misapplication, or failure to recognize
controlling precedent.” Oto, 224 F.3d at 606.
There was no manifest error of law or fact in this case. The Court did not misapprehend
the petitioner’s claim, nor did it misapply the law to that claim in finding that the § 851(a)
enhancement was impervious to the challenge made. Accordingly, the motion to alter or amend
judgment [dkt 43] is denied.
Normally, “a notice of appeal divests the district court of its control over those aspects of
the case involved in the appeal.” May v. Sheahan, 226 F.3d 876, 879 (7th Cir. 2000) (quoting
Griggs v. Provident Consumer Disc. Co., 459 U.S. 56, 58 (1982)). In a scenario such as this,
however, where a party prematurely files a notice of appeal before the Court has acted on a timely
Rule 59 motion, the notice of appeal does not divest the Court of jurisdiction to rule on the motion.
See Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(4)(B)(i). The notice of appeal is, in effect, suspended until the Court
disposes of the Rule 59 motion.
Consistent with the foregoing, the notice of appeal filed on February 14, 2017, [dkt 41],
shall now be processed as a notice of appeal from the final judgment issued on January 11, 2017.
“A motion brought under Rule 59 suspends the finality of a judgment until the motion is
decided; the clock stands at 30 days until then.” Marine Bank, Nat. Ass'n v. Meat Counter, Inc.,
826 F.2d 1577, 1579 (7th Cir. 1987) (citing Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(4)). This describes the nature and
effect of the motion to alter or amend judgment discussed in Parts I and II of this Entry. As
explained in Part III of this Entry, the petitioner has filed a notice of appeal and it will now be
processed. Accordingly, the motions for extension of time in which to file a notice of appeal [dkt
41 and dkt 44] are denied as moot.
A claim or argument is frivolous when it appears the factual allegations are clearly baseless
or the legal theories are indisputably meritless. See Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989).
There is no objectively reasonable argument the petitioner could present that the disposition of this
action was erroneous. In pursuing an appeal, therefore, the petitioner “is acting in bad faith . . .
[because] to sue in bad faith means merely to sue on the basis of a frivolous claim, which is to say
a claim that no reasonable person could suppose to have any merit.” Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025,
1026 (7th Cir. 2000). Accordingly, petitioner’s appeal is not taken in good faith, and his request
for leave to proceed on appeal in forma pauperis [dkt 42] is denied.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
LARRY J. McKINNEY, JUDGE
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
JESUS ARREOLA CASTILLO
HERLONG - FCI
HERLONG FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
P.O. BOX 800
HERLONG, CA 96113
Bradley A. Blackington
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
Winfield D. Ong
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
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