Watkins v. Woods
ORDER Granting Petitioner's Motion to Allow A Late Motion for Reconsideration 15 and Denying the Motion for Reconsideration 16 . Signed by District Judge Denise Page Hood. (LSau)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
LINCOLN ANDERSON WATKINS,
CASE NO. 16-11348
HON. DENISE PAGE HOOD
ORDER GRANTING PETITIONER’S MOTION TO ALLOW
A LATE MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION (Docket No. 15)
DENYING THE MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION (Docket No. 16)
This is a pro se habeas corpus case under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The habeas
petition, filed on April 8, 2016, challenged Petitioner’s state convictions for four
counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, see Mich. Comp. Laws §
750.520b(1)(a), and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, see Mich.
Comp. Laws § 750.520c(1)(a). Respondent Jeffrey Woods moved to dismiss the
habeas petition on the ground that the petition was not filed before the expiration
of the one-year statute of limitations. On February 28, 2017, the Court granted
Respondent’s motion and closed this case. Currently pending before the Court are
Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration and motion for leave to file an untimely
motion for reconsideration.
I. The Motion for Permission to File a Late Motion for Reconsideration
Pursuant to this District’s Local Rules, “[a] motion for rehearing or
reconsideration must be filed within 14 days after entry of the judgment or order.”
LR 7.1(h)(1) (E.D. Mich. July 1, 2013). On February 28, 2017, the Court issued its
opinion and judgment closing this case, and on March 20, 2017, Petitioner signed
and dated his motion for reconsideration. Because the motion was submitted for
filing more than 14 days after the Court issued its dispositive opinion and
judgment, the motion is untimely.
Petitioner alleges, however, that he inquired about the status of his case in
early March, that he received a copy of the docket sheet on March 16, 2017, and
that on March 17, 2017, he received the Court’s dispositive opinion. He signed
and dated his motion for reconsideration just 3 days later. Given the delay in
Petitioner’s receipt of the Court’s dispositive opinion and his prompt response to
the opinion once he received it, the Court believes that Petitioner should be
permitted to move for reconsideration. The Court therefore grants Petitioner’s
Motion to Allow Late Filing of the Motion for Reconsideration (docket no. 15).
II. The Motion for Reconsideration
Petitioner seeks to have the Court reconsider its dispositive opinion and rule
that he filed his habeas petition in a timely manner. This Court’s Local Rule on
motions for reconsideration provides that,
[g]enerally, and without restricting the Court’s discretion, the Court
will not grant motions for rehearing or reconsideration that merely
present the same issues ruled upon by the Court, either expressly or by
reasonable implication. The movant must not only demonstrate a
palpable defect by which the Court and the parties and other persons
entitled to be heard on the motion have been misled but also show that
correcting the defect will result in a different disposition of the case.
Petitioner disagrees with the Court’s factual finding that he did not apply to
the United States Supreme Court on direct review of his convictions. Petitioner
alleges that he filed a motion for reconsideration in the Michigan Supreme Court
during post-conviction proceedings, and after the Michigan Supreme Court denied
reconsideration, he filed a petition for the writ of certiorari in the United States
Supreme Court. Petitioner argues that, because the motion for reconsideration
raised a Fifth Amendment claim which Petitioner previously asserted on direct
appeal, the motion and subsequent petition for writ of certiorari were part of the
direct appeal, not the state collateral proceedings.
Under Petitioner’s analysis, his habeas petition would be timely, because it
would extend his direct appeal to February 29, 2016, when the United States
Supreme Court denied Petitioner’s application for a writ of certiorari. The record
before the Court, however, indicates that the purported motion for reconsideration
in the Michigan Supreme Court was actually a motion to revisit Petitioner’s Fifth
Amendment claim on the basis that he had newly discovered evidence to support
the claim. See People v. Watkins, No. 149336, “Motion to Revisit 5th Amendment
Claim Raised in Defendant’s 2012 Application for Leave to Appeal . . . ,” ECF
No. 9-56 at 66, Pg ID 2638. In his caption for the motion, Petitioner used the case
number assigned to the state supreme court on collateral review, as opposed to the
case number assigned to the state supreme court on direct review. See id. The
Michigan Supreme Court treated the motion as part of the state collateral appeal,
not the direct appeal, and then denied the motion. See People v. Watkins, 497
Mich. 903; 856 N.W.2d 38 (2014). Given these facts, the Court concludes that
Petitioner’s Motion to Revisit his Fifth Amendment Claim was not part of the
direct appeal, and it did not delay the start of the limitations period.
Petitioner argues next that the Court unfairly and incorrectly assumed he was
able to pursue his rights even though state officials lost his legal materials. The
record, however, supports the Court’s conclusion that Petitioner was able to pursue
his rights in state court despite the alleged interference by state officials. And
Petitioner conceded in his response to Respondent’s Motion to Dismiss that he had
acquired much of his missing legal property by the beginning of 2016. The Court
therefore declines to reconsider its ruling that Petitioner was not entitled to a
delayed start of the limitations period.
Finally, Petitioner argues that he is entitled to summary judgment because
the State did not handle his incoming mail in a timely manner and because the
State has repeatedly interfered with the judicial process.
Even if the State
prevented Petitioner from receiving his mail in a timely manner, Petitioner has
failed to show that this interfered with his ability to file a timely habeas petition.
The Court therefore declines to reconsider its judgment.
III. Conclusion and Order
Petitioner is entitled to file a motion for reconsideration, but he has failed to
show that the Court made a palpable error in its opinion and order dismissing the
habeas petition as time-barred. The Court therefore grants Petitioner’s Motion to
Allow a Late Filing of the Motion for Reconsideration (Docket No. 15), but denies
Petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration of the Court’s opinion and judgment
dismissing his habeas petition (Docket No. 16).
S/Denise Page Hood
Denise Page Hood
Chief Judge, United States District Court
Dated: May 19, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon counsel of
record on May 19, 2017, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
S/LaShawn R. Saulsberry
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