Stevenson #164199 v. LaVigne

Filing 97

ORDER granting 84 motion to stay; granting 94 motion to Reopen Case; the Order of Dismissal 83 is VACATED and the proceedings are REINSTATED. Any party which disagrees with the remedy requested in Respondents Confession of Error 54 shall file a brief with the Court on the issue within 20 days ; signed by Senior Judge Richard Alan Enslen (Senior Judge Richard Alan Enslen, sas)

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Stevenson #164199 v. LaVigne Doc. 97 Case 2:04-cv-00031-RAE-TPG Document 97 Filed 04/13/2007 Page 1 of 3 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT W E S T E R N DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN N O R T H E R N DIVISION B U R V IN STEVENSON, P e titio n e r , v. F A B IA N LAVIGNE, OR DER R esp o n d en t. / Case No. 2:04-CV-31 H on . Richard Alan Enslen T h is matter is before the Court on Petitioner Burvin Stevenson's Motion to Stay the Judgment a n d Revival of the Proceedings. Petitioner requests the Court reinstate the proceedings which were d is m is se d without prejudice on July 3, 2006 at his request. The Court previously ordered Petitioner's cou nsel to brief the issue no later than April 5, 2007. On March 29, 2007, Gary Margosian informed th e Court by letter that he is not Petitioner's counsel in this matter. Petitioner has since briefed the issue h im s elf in his Motion to Reinstate Habeas Corpus. Accordingly, the Court will now address Petitioner's M otion to Stay the Judgment and Revival of the Proceedings and treat the Motion to Reinstate Habeas C o r pu s as a supplement to the previous Motion. P etition er requests the Court reinstate his habeas action because he mistakenly requested its dism issal without prejudice. The Court construes Petitioner's Motion to Stay the Judgment and Revival o f the Proceedings as a Motion for Relief from Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60 (b). In the instant case, the Court liberally construes Petitioner's Motion as requesting relief under R u le 60(b)(1) where a court may grant relief from judgment for "mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or ex cusab le neglect." FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b)(1). "As a prerequisite to relief under Rule 60(b), a party must establish that the facts of its case are within one of the enumerated reasons contained in Rule 60(b) that w arrant relief from judgment." Johnson v. Dellatifa, 357 F.3d 539 (6th Cir. 2004) (citing Lewis v. A lexan der , 987 F.2d 392, 396 (6th Cir. 1993)). The Sixth Circuit has held Rule 60(b)(1) should be Case 2:04-cv-00031-RAE-TPG Document 97 Filed 04/13/2007 Page 2 of 3 " app lied equitably and liberally to achieve substantial justice." Williams v. Meyer, 346 F.3d 607, 613 (6 th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted). "In deciding whether relief is warranted, three factors are relevant: (1 ) whether the party seeking relief is culpable; (2) whether the party opposing relief will be prejudiced; and (3) whether the party seeking relief has a meritorious claim or defense." Id. (citing United Coin M eter v. Seaboard Coastline R.R., 705 F.2d 839, 845 (6th Cir. 1983). 1 The Court must determine first w hether Petitioner is culpable before reaching the other two factors. Id.; see also Weiss v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 283 F.3d 790, 794 (6th Cir. 2002). A fter review, the Court finds Petitioner's actions were the result of excusable neglect rather than c u lp ab le conduct. "A party's conduct is culpable if it `displays either an intent to thwart judicial pro ceedings or a reckless disregard for the effect of its conduct on those proceedings.'" Id. Petitioner re q u ested the Court dismiss his habeas petition without prejudice "so that post justice may be served in th e Court of Appeals." (See Pet'r Mot to Dismiss.) The Court understands this to be a reference to R esp o n d en t's Confession of Error, in which Respondent admitted error in the trial court's decision to dism iss Petitioner's appeal against his wishes. (See Dkt. No. 54 at 3.) The Confession of Error also req u ested the Court issue an interim order giving the State court 90 days to appoint appellate counsel for P etition er. (Id.) The Court finds Petitioner's request was excusable neglect because the request was not m otivated by an intent to thwart judicial proceedings or made with reckless disregard. Williams, 346 F .3 d at 613. It is clear from the record Petitioner was attempting to seek the remedy Respondent had pro po sed an appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals. Further, Petitioner's diligence in seeking relief fro m the Judgment weighs in favor of finding the conduct to be excusable neglect.2 Id. Therefore, in The Sixth Circuit has held these principles, although derived from cases involving default judgments, were applicable to evaluate a case involving a habeas petition. Id. at 613 n.4. 2 1 Petitioner filed the Motion within ten days of the entry of Judgment. 2 Case 2:04-cv-00031-RAE-TPG Document 97 Filed 04/13/2007 Page 3 of 3 ligh t of these circumstances, the Court finds that Petitioner's conduct was due to excusable neglect. T h e Court also finds there is no prejudice to Respondent in granting Petitioner relief from the Ju d gm en t. In the present action, Respondent submitted to the Court the previously described Confession o f Error. In the Confession, Respondent admitted error and requested the Court award Petitioner relief. T h e refo re, there can be no prejudice to Respondent in reinstating the action where he had already ad m itted to the trial court's error and requested the proposed remedy. F ina lly, Petitioner has presented a meritorious claim or defense. "A claim or defense is `m eritoriou s,' if `there is some possibility that the outcome of the suit after full trial will be contrary to the result achieved by the [judgment].'" Id. at 614 (citing INVST Fin. v. Chem-Nuclear Sys., 815 F.2d 3 9 1 , 398-99 (6th Cir. 1987)). In the present action, as evidenced in Respondent's Confession of Error, th ere is more than the required possibility of an outcome contrary to the Judgment. Accordingly, the C ou rt must hold Petitioner has presented a meritorious claim or defense. T h e re fo r e, the Court finds that Petitioner has satisfied the factors under United Coin Meter, such that relief from the Judgment is appropriate under Rule 60(b)(1). The Court further notes it is inclined to grant the relief requested in Respondent's Confession of Error. Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Petitioner's Motion to Stay the Judgment and Revival of the P roceed ings (Dkt. No. 84) and Motion to Reinstate Habeas Corpus (Dkt. No. 94) are GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Order of Dismissal (Dkt. No. 83) is VACATED and the pro ceedings are REINSTATED. Any party which disagrees with the remedy requested in Respondent's C o n fessio n of Error (Dkt. No. 54) shall file a brief with the Court on the issue within 20 days of this O r d er . DATED in Kalamazoo, MI: April 13, 2007 /s/ Richard Alan Enslen RICHARD ALAN ENSLEN SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 3

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