ROTHWELL v. SHARTLE
OPINION. Signed by Judge Robert B. Kugler on 2/20/2015. (dmr)(n.m.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civ. No. 14-7128 (RBK)
WARDEN J.T. SHARTLE,
ROBERT B. KUGLER, U.S.D.J.
Petitioner is a federal prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Upon screening the petition, the Court determined that it lacked
jurisdiction as petitioner failed to show that § 2255 was inadequate or ineffective to challenge his
federal conviction and sentence. (See Dkt. No. 3.) Accordingly, the petition was summarily
dismissed due to a lack of jurisdiction on January 21, 2015.
Petitioner subsequently filed a motion for reconsideration pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 59(e). For the following reasons, the motion for reconsideration will be denied.
Petitioner’s habeas petition challenged the federal sentence he received. More
specifically, petitioner claimed that the sentencing court relied upon the instant offense he was
convicted of as a predicate offense to enhance his sentence. In dismissing the § 2241 habeas
petition for lack of jurisdiction, this Court noted that petitioner failed to show that § 2255 was
inadequate or ineffective to pursue his claims as he failed to show that he had no prior
opportunity to challenge his conviction for a crime later deemed to be non-criminal by an
intervening change in the law. 1 (See Dkt. No. 3 at p. 6-7.)
In his motion for reconsideration, petitioner argues that this Court erred in finding that it
lacked jurisdiction to consider his § 2241 habeas petition. Additionally, he claims that this Court
has the right to review his § 2241 habeas petition pursuant to the Suspension Clause of the
United States Constitution.
A. Legal Standard for Motion for Reconsideration
Motions filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) are governed by Local
Civil Rule 7.1(i) which allows a party to seek reconsideration by the Court of matters which the
party believes the judge has “overlooked.” See Carney v. Pennsauken Twp. Police Dep’t, No.
11-7366, 2013 WL 4501454, at *1 (D.N.J. Aug. 21, 2013) (citations omitted). “The standard for
reargument is high and reconsideration is to be granted only sparingly.” Yarrell v. Bartkowski,
No. 10-5337, 2012 WL 1600316, at *3 (D.N.J. May 7, 2012) (citing United States v. Jones, 158
F.R.D. 309, 314 (D.N.J. 1994)). To be successful on a motion for reconsideration, a petitioner
has the burden to demonstrate: “(1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the
availability of new evidence that was not available when the court [issued its order]; or (3) the
need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice.” Max’s Seafood Café
ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999) (citation omitted); see also
Berry v. Jacobs IMC, LLC, 99 F. App’x 405, 410 (3d Cir. 2004).
Petitioner’s § 2255 motion had previously been denied in 2002.
Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration will be denied. As the Court noted in its prior
Opinion, a challenge to the validity of a federal conviction or sentence generally must be brought
under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See Jackman v. Shartle, 535 F. App’x 87, 88 (3d Cir. 2013) (per
curiam) (citing Okereke v. United States, 307 F.3d 117, 120 (3d Cir. 2002)). As the Court noted,
petitioner could bring his challenge to his federal sentence under § 2241 as opposed to § 2255 if
he has no prior opportunity to challenge his conviction for a crime later deemed to be noncriminal by an intervening change in the law. See Okereke, 307 F.3d at 120 (citing In re
Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d 245, 251 (3d Cir. 1997)). Petitioner’s argument that the sentencing court
used his instant offense as a predicate offense to qualify him for an enhanced sentence did not
fall within this exception. Accord United States v. Brown, 456 F. App’x 79, 81 (3d Cir. 2012)
(per curiam) (“We have held that § 2255’s ‘safety valve’ applies only in rare circumstances, such
as when an intervening change in the statute under which the petitioner was convicted renders
the petitioner’s conduct non-criminal. Brown has not satisfied that standard here, as he makes no
allegation that he is actually innocent of the crime for which he was convicted, but instead
asserts only that he is ‘innocent’ of being a career offender.”) (internal citation omitted); Selby v.
Scism, 453 F. App’x 266, 268 (3d Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (“Selby does not argue that he is
innocent of the offense for which he was convicted; he argues that he is “innocent” of a
sentencing enhancement because of an intervening change in law. Accordingly, the exception
described in In re Dorsainvil does not apply.”); Robinson v. Hollingsworth, No. 13-0101, 2013
WL 141441, at *2 (D.N.J. Jan. 11, 2013) (“Section 2255 is not inadequate or ineffective for
Robinson’s challenge to his sentencing enhancement as a career offender, however, because he
does not contend that, as a result of a Supreme Court decision issued subsequent to his § 2255
motion, the conduct for which he was convicted - possession with intent to distribute cocaine, is
not non-criminal.”); Crawford v. United States, No. 12-1545, 2012 WL 5199167, at *5 (D.N.J.
Oct. 19, 2012) (“The safety valve under § 2255 does not apply when an inmate challenges the
enhancement of his sentence as Petitioner does here.”).
Petitioner also invokes the Suspension Clause in his motion for reconsideration. The
Suspension Clause provides that “[t]he Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be
suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.”
U.S. CONST. art I, § 9. “It is, of course, well established that requiring a federal prisoner to
pursue post-conviction relief in the trial court under § 2255, rather than in a habeas proceeding
under § 2241, where that remedy is adequate and effective does not constitute a suspension of
the writ.” United States v. Brooks, 245 F.3d 291, 292 n.2 (3d Cir. 2001) (citing United States v.
Anselmi, 207 F.2d 312, 314 (3d Cir. 1953)). Furthermore, the gatekeeping provisions that limit §
2255 motions do not violate the Suspension Clause. See, e.g., Felker v. Turpin, 518 U.S. 651,
664 (1996) (holding that statutory restrictions placed on filing second habeas petitions by state
prisoners [which are similar to the limits on filing second or successive § 2255 motions] do not
amount to a suspension of the writ); see also McKoy v. Apker, 156 F. App’x 494, 496 (3d Cir.
2005) (per curiam) (restrictions on successive 2255 motions do not violate the Suspension
Clause); Hunnewell v. Holt, No. 05-2521, 2006 WL 1000056, at *4 (M.D. Pa. Apr. 13, 2006)
(same). Accordingly, the motion for reconsideration will be denied as petitioner does not show:
(1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not
available when the court issued its order; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or
to prevent manifest injustice. See Max’s Seafood Café, 176 F.3d at 677.
For the foregoing reasons, petitioner’s motion for reconsideration will be denied. An
appropriate order will be entered.
DATED: February 20, 2015
s/Robert B. Kugler
ROBERT B. KUGLER
United States District Judge
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?