Horswell v. State of Minnesota
ORDER DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION TO REOPEN COURT FILE 14 . (Written Opinion). Signed by Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright on 10/8/2019. (RJE)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Phillip Harold Horswell,
Case No. 18-cv-0307 (WMW/DTS)
ORDER DENYING PETITIONER’S
MOTION TO REOPEN COURT FILE
State of Minnesota,
Before the Court is Petitioner Phillip Harold Horswell’s August 2, 2019 Motion to
Reopen Court File. (Dkt. 14.) Horswell’s motion purports to present newly discovered
evidence supporting his habeas corpus petition in this closed matter. Respondent State of
Minnesota has not responded to the motion.
Horswell is civilly committed in the State of Minnesota for an indefinite term after
being found mentally ill and dangerous by the state district court. On January 8, 2018,
Horswell filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in the United
States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Because that court has no
connection to Horswell’s confinement, it transferred the matter to the United States District
Court for the District of Minnesota. This Court denied Horswell’s petition without
prejudice for failure to exhaust state remedies, and the Clerk of Court entered the judgment
of dismissal on August 2, 2018. (Dkts. 12, 13.) One year later, Horswell filed the pending
Motion to Reopen Court File.
Construed liberally, Horswell’s pro se motion to reopen seeks relief from the
August 2, 2018 judgment, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b).1 A party
must file a Rule 60(b) motion within a reasonable time after the ground for relief arises.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(c)(1). Rule 60(b) permits a court to grant a party relief from a final
judgment or order based on enumerated reasons, including “newly discovered evidence
that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new
trial under Rule 59(b).” Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(2). In addition, Rule 60(b) permits a court
to grant relief from a judgment for “any other reason that justifies relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
Horswell purports to present newly discovered evidence, namely that the state court
judge who ordered Horswell’s civil commitment was not duly re-elected for the term
during which the judge entered the order. But this evidence, even if true,2 does not alter
this Court’s legal conclusion that Horswell is not entitled to habeas relief because he failed
to invoke the judicial procedures available to him in the State of Minnesota courts. For
these reasons, Horswell is not entitled to relief from the judgment entered in this case.
Because the Court denied Horswell’s original petition without prejudice for failure
to exhaust state remedies, his Rule 60(b) motion is not subject to the rule against successive
habeas petitions. See Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 485–86 (2000).
Horswell’s support for this assertion is a list of the Results for All Judicial Races in
Minnesota in 2006, on which Judge Robert D. Walker’s name does not appear. But the
term of office for Minnesota District Court judges is six years, Minn. Const. art. VI, § 7,
and there is nothing in the record to suggest that Judge Walker was a judicial candidate for
re-election that year.
Based on the foregoing analysis and all of the files, records, and proceedings herein,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Petitioner Phillip Harold Horswell’s Motion to Reopen
Court File, (Dkt. 14), is DENIED.
Dated: October 8, 2019
s/Wilhelmina M. Wright
Wilhelmina M. Wright
United States District Judge
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