Martin v. Howes
ORDER reopening case, denyng post-judgment motions, denying a certificate of appealability and transferring the motions to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Signed by District Judge John Corbett O'Meara. (DPer)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
CASE NO. 5:10-CV-13331
HONORABLE JOHN CORBETT O’MEARA
ORDER REOPENING THE CASE, DENYING THE POST-JUDGMENT MOTIONS,
DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, & TRANSFERRING THE
MOTIONS TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
Michigan prisoner Melvin Martin (“Petitioner”) has filed several post-judgment motions
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(3) and 60(d) concerning the Court’s dismissal of
his federal habeas petition in 2011 for failure to comply with the one-year statute of limitations
applicable to federal habeas actions. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Specifically, Petitioner filed a
“Motion to Consider an Independent Action” on July 6, 2016, a “Motion to Vacate Sentence” on
November 19, 2016, a letter requesting relief on November 21, 2016, and a “Motion for Writ of
Mandamus or Order to Show Cause or for Superintending Control” on June 21, 2017. In his
motions, he appears to seek relief from the Court’s judgment and to reinstate his habeas claims
and/or to present new, additional claims for habeas review. The Court now REOPENS this case
for the limited purpose of resolving Petitioner’s motions. See Heximer v. Woods, No.
2:08-CV-14170, 2016 WL 183629, *1 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 15, 2016) (reopening case for consideration
of post-judgment motion).
Petitioner first seeks post-judgment relief pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
60(b)(3). Under Rule 60(b), a federal district court will grant relief from a final judgment or order
only upon a showing of one of the following reasons: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or
excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence could not have
been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b); (3) fraud (whether previously
called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party; (4) the
judgment is void; (5) the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged; it is based on an
earlier judgement that has been reversed or otherwise vacated; or applying it prospectively is not
longer equitable; or (6) any other reason that justifies relief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b).
A motion under Rule 60(b) must be made within a reasonable time – and for reasons (1),
(2), and (3) – no more than one year after the entry of the judgment or order or the date of the
proceeding. Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(c)(1); Conner v. Attorney General, 96 F. App’x 990, 992 (6th Cir.
2004). The bounds of reasonable time “ordinarily depends on the facts of the given case including
the length and circumstances of the delay, the prejudice to the opposing party by reason of the
delay, and the circumstances compelling equitable relief.” Olle v. Henry & Wright Corp., 910 F.2d
357, 365 (6th Cir. 1990). A court has broad discretion in deciding such matters, but that discretion
is circumscribed by public policy favoring finality of judgments and termination of litigation.
Waifersong, Ltd. v. Classic Music Vending, 976 F.2d 290, 292 (6th Cir. 1992).
Petitioner did not file his motion for relief from judgment within one year or within a
reasonable time given that the Court dismissed his habeas petition in 2011 and he filed his current
motions in 2016 and 2017. Petitioner fails to provide an explanation for the multiple-year delay in
filing his motions. He knew or could have known of his current arguments at the time of his state
criminal proceedings and/or when he originally sought federal habeas review. The motion is
untimely and must be denied.
Moreover, even if the Court considers the merits of the motion under Rule 60(b)(3),
Petitioner is not entitled to relief from judgment. He fails to establish that this Court’s judgment
should be vacated due to fraud, misrepresentation, or other misconduct by an adverse party. The
Court did not err in dismissing his habeas petition as untimely. Accordingly, the Court DENIES
Petitioner’s Rule 60(b)(3) motion.
Petitioner also seeks post-judgment relief pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(d).
That rule provides:
Other Powers to Grant Relief. This rule does not limit a court’s power to:
(1) entertain an independent action to relieve a party from a judgment, order, or
(2) grant relief under 28 U.S.C. § 1655 to a defendant who was not personally
notified of the action; or
(3) set aside a judgment for fraud on the court.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(d). An independent action under Rule 60(d) is an equitable action, which has no
time limitation. Mitchell v. Rees, 651 F.3d 593, 594–95 (6th Cir. 2011). Its elements are:
(1) a judgment which ought not, in equity and good conscience, to be enforced; (2) a
good defense to the alleged cause of action on which the judgment is founded; (3)
fraud, accident, or mistake which prevented the defendant in the judgment from
obtaining the benefit of his defense; (4) the absence of fault or negligence on the part
of the defendant; and (5) the absence of any adequate remedy at law.
Id. at 595 (citing Barrett v. Secretary of Health & Human Svs., 840 F.2d 1259, 1263 (6th Cir.
1987)). An independent action under Rule 60(d) is available to prevent “a grave miscarriage of
justice.” Id. (quoting United States v. Beggerly, 524 U.S. 38, 47 (1998), and citing cases). This is a
“‘stringent’ and ‘demanding’ standard,” and, because Petitioner seeks relief from judgment in a
habeas case, he must make a strong showing of actual innocence to establish that relief is required.
Id. at 595–96 (citing Calderon v. Thompson, 523 U.S. 538, 557–58 (1998), and Sawyer v. Whitley,
505 U.S. 333, 339 (1992)).
Petitioner makes no such showing. Rather, he merely re-argues issues previously presented
to the Court and/or raises issues which could have been presented in his initial habeas proceeding.
His allegations do not warrant the extraordinary remedy that he seeks in this action. Petitioner fails
to establish that the Court erred in dismissing his habeas petition as untimely, that he is innocent, or
that he is otherwise entitled to relief under Rule 60(d). Accordingly, the Court DENIES
Petitioner’s Rule 60(d) motion.
Before Petitioner may appeal the Court’s ruling, a certificate must issue. See Johnson v.
Bell, 605 F.3d 333, 336 (6th Cir. 2010) (citing United States v. Hardin, 481 F.3d 924, 926 (6th Cir.
2007)). A certificate of appealability may issue only when the petitioner makes “a substantial
showing of the denial of a constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). When a court denies relief
on the merits, the substantial showing threshold is met if the petitioner demonstrates that reasonable
jurists would find the court’s assessment of the claim debatable or wrong. Slack v. McDaniel, 529
U.S. 473, 484-85 (2000). When a court denies relief on procedural grounds without addressing the
merits, a certificate of appealability should issue if it is shown that jurists of reason would find it
debatable whether the petitioner states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right, and that
jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the court was correct in its procedural ruling. Id.
With Slack v. McDaniel in mind, judges within this district have adopted the following
standard for determining whether a certificate of appealability should issue in the context of the
denial of a Rule 60(b) motion:
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)
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) motion, states a
valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right.
Missouri v. Birkett, No. 2:08–CV–11660, 2012 WL 882727, *2-3 (E.D. Mich. March 15, 2012);
Carr v. Warren, 05–CV–73763, 2010 WL 2868421, *2 (E.D. Mich. July 21, 2010) (both citing
Kellogg v. Strack, 269 F.3d 100, 104 (2d Cir. 2001)). Petitioner is not entitled to a certificate of
appealability because he fails to demonstrate that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether
the Court abused its discretion in denying his motions. Accordingly, the Court DENIES a
certificate of appealability.
Lastly, to the extent that Petitioner seeks to raise new claims for relief challenging the
validity of his state criminal proceedings which were not previously presented in federal court, his
motions constitute second or successive habeas petitions which must be transferred to the United
States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. See Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 532 (2005); In
re Nailor, 487 F.3d 1018, 1022-23 (6th Cir. 2007). Accordingly, the Court TRANSFERS
Petitioner’s post-judgment motions to the Sixth Circuit.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Date: July 13, 2017
s/John Corbett O’Meara
United States District Judge
I hereby certify that on July 13, 2017 a copy of this order was served upon the parties of
record using the ECF system, and/or by first-class U.S. mail.
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