JONES v. LAGANA et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge Noel L. Hillman on 3/14/2016. (tf, n.m.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
PAUL K. LAGANA, et al.,
Civ. No. 12-5823 (NLH)
Ronald Jones, #67483/854731A
121 N. Poplar St.
Wilmington, DE 19801
Petitioner pro se
HILLMAN, District Judge
This matter is presently before the Court upon receipt of a
Motion to Reopen Case (ECF No. 7) by Petitioner Ronald Jones.
For the reasons that follow, the Motion will be DENIED.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On or about September 10, 2012, Petitioner Ronald Jones, an
inmate formerly confined at Northern State Prison in Newark, New
Jersey, filed a petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his state criminal conviction.
February 25, 2015, this Court entered an Order (ECF No. 3)
dismissing the Petition as “second and successive.”
this Order was sent to Petitioner via regular U.S. mail at his
last known address; however, this mail was returned to the Court
as undeliverable. (ECF No. 4).
eventually received notice of the fact that this case had been
dismissed and he filed a Notice of Appeal (ECF No. 5) on
September 8, 2015.
That appeal was recently dismissed for lack
of jurisdiction by the Third Circuit under docket number 153185.
Petitioner then filed a Motion to Reopen Case (ECF No. 7)
before this Court.
The Court set deadlines for this motion and
sent notice to Petitioner via regular U.S. mail to his last
This mail, too, was returned to sender as
undeliverable. (ECF No. 8).
In his Motion, Petitioner explains that he filed the
instant Petition to assert his claim of actual innocence while
he was incarcerated.
Petitioner then states that he filed a
subsequent memorandum in support of his Petition, but that
memorandum was docketed by the Court as a separate petition for
writ of habeas corpus and was given Civ. No. 13-5185.
reasons, Petitioner requests “that the Court reopen the instant
case in the interest of justice and spirit of the law. (Mot. 4,
ECF No. 7).
As explained in the Court’s February 25, 2015 Opinion, the
Petition was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction as second and
successive. (ECF No. 2).
Therefore, any request to reopen
impliedly seeks reconsideration of the Court’s February 25, 2015
At its core, then, the instant Motion to Reopen Case is
a motion for reconsideration.
Moreover, because Petitioner
specifically cites to FED. R. CIV. P. 60 (Mot. 2, ECF No. 7), that
is the statute under which this Court will evaluate his motion.
Rule 60(b) provides six bases for reconsideration,
including “mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect”
(Rule 60(b)(1)); “newly discovered evidence” (Rule 60(b)(2));
fraud (Rule 60(b)(3)); a void judgment (Rule 60(b)(4)); a
satisfied judgment (Rule 60(b)(5)); or “any other reason that
justifies relief” (Rule 60(b)(6)). FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b).
case, however, it is unclear on which ground of Rule 60(b)
Petitioner relies in support of his motion.
As set forth above, Petitioner states only that a
memorandum of law which he meant to file in support of the
instant Petition was docketed by the Court as a separate
petition for writ of habeas corpus.
Therefore, the only
potential basis for Petitioner’s claim for relief is either Rule
60(b)(1) or Rule 60(b)(6), the “catchall provision.” See Cox v.
Horn, 757 F.3d 113, 120 (3d Cir. 2014) cert. denied sub nom.
Wetzel v. Cox, 135 S. Ct. 1548, 191 L. Ed. 2d 663 (2015) (“Rule
60(b)(6) is a catch-all provision that authorizes a court to
grant relief from a final judgment for ‘any ... reason’ other
than those listed elsewhere in the Rule.”).
With respect to a
motion filed under Rule 60(b)(6), “courts are to dispense their
broad powers under 60(b)(6) only in ‘extraordinary circumstances
where, without such relief, an extreme and unexpected hardship
would occur.’” Id. (quoting Sawka v. Healtheast, Inc., 989 F.2d
138, 140 (3d Cir. 1993)).
Regardless of the basis for Petitioner’s instant motion,
the Court finds that neither Rule 60(b)(1) or 60(b)(6) is
applicable, and Petitioner’s argument is without merit.
Petitioner offers no reason which would warrant relief from this
Court’s previous Order.
Even accepting as true Petitioner’s
allegation that a document he submitted in support of the
instant Petition was docketed as an entirely new petition, this
fact does not warrant relief under Rule 60(b).
First, the Court
notes that the habeas case opened as a result of that
submission, Civ. No. 13-5185, and assigned to a different judge
was likewise dismissed for lack of jurisdiction as second and
successive. See Jones v. Lagana, No. 13-5185, 2015 WL 4716016,
at *3 (D.N.J. Aug. 7, 2015) (“As this is a successive § 2254
petition, barred by § 2244(b), this Court must dismiss the
petition for lack of jurisdiction.”).
Therefore, even if that
document had been filed in the instant case, this Court’s
analysis of the instant Petition would not change — it would
still have been dismissed for lack of jurisdiction as second and
Moreover, Petitioner has offered no explanation for why he
did not bring this issue to the Court’s attention sooner.
Nearly 18 months elapsed between the time Petitioner’s second
habeas case was initiated, August 29, 2013, and the date this
Court issued its Order dismissing the instant Petition, February
In addition, the record in Petitioner’s second habeas
case, Civ. No. 13-5185, reveals that Petitioner filed two
motions in that case and failed to mention the Court’s alleged
error in either submission.
Therefore, at the least, it appears
that Petitioner avoided raising this issue with the Court.
Finally, the Court notes that in his current Motion
Petitioner twice mentions his change of address and states that
“the Court inadvertedly [sic] sent [the Order dismissing his
case] to Northern State Prison, instead of sending to his
current Delaware address where he’s been residing since June
2013[.]” (Mot. 3, ECF No. 7).
To the extent Petitioner implies
that this was an error on the Court’s part and that this change
of address warrants reopening the instant case or
reconsideration of the Court’s Order dismissing the instant
case, Petitioner’s argument is without merit.
Pursuant to Local
Civil Rule 10.1, it is Petitioner’s responsibility to keep the
Court informed as to any change in his address. See L. CIV. R.
10.1(a) (“Counsel and/or unrepresented parties must advise the
Court of any change in their or their client’s address within
seven days of being apprised of such change by filing a notice
of said change with the Clerk.”).
Nevertheless, the Court will
direct the Clerk of the Court to update Petitioner’s address on
the docket and to send this Opinion and the accompanying Order
to Petitioner at the return address listed on his Motion: 121 N.
Poplar St., Apt. C-4-1, Wilmington, DE 19801.
For the foregoing reasons, Petitioner’s Motion to Reopen
Case (ECF No. 7) is DENIED.
The case will be reclosed.
An appropriate Order follows.
____s/ Noel L. Hillman____
NOEL L. HILLMAN
United States District Judge
Dated: March 14, 2016
At Camden, New Jersey
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?