THOMAS v. NEUHAUSER et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Esther Salas on 3/28/16. (DD, )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
GREGORY R. NEUHAUSER, et al.,
Civil Action No. 14-4794 (ES)
It appearing that:
1. On September 17, 2014, the Court dismissed Petitioner Aaron Thomas’s (“Petitioner”)
habeas Petition filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, finding that as a state pre-trial detainee, he had
not presented any extraordinary or exceptional circumstances and the Petition was an attempt to
litigate constitutional defenses prematurely in federal court. (D.E. No. 6 at 3-4). Consequently, the
Court dismissed the Petition without prejudice and instructed Petitioner to exhaust remedies
available in the courts of the State of New Jersey. (Id. at 4). The Court denied a certificate of
2. Thereafter, on July 20, 2015, Petitioner filed a “Motion for Reconsideration for 28 U.S.C.
2241 petition and certificate of appealability pursuant to: Civ Rule 7.1(i) pursuant to: Rule 60 (b)
2, 3 pursuant to: 28 U.S.C. 2242 Amend and Supplement Motion to Grant Extention [sic] of time
to file pursuant to the interest of justice.” 1 (D.E. No. 8).
After he filed the instant Motion, Petitioner thereafter filed a notice of appeal with the Court of
Appeals for the Third Circuit. (D.E. No. 13). Ordinarily, the Court is barred from considering
motions that address the merits of the case once the case has been appealed. Kull v. Kutztown Univ.
of Pa., 543 F. App’x 244, 247 (3d Cir. 2013); Thomas v. Northeastern Univ., 470 F. App’x 70, 71
(3d Cir. 2012) (citing Griggs v. Provident Consumer Disc. Co., 459 U.S. 56, 58 (1982)); Venen v.
3. Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7.1(i), “a motion for reconsideration shall be served and
filed within 14 days after the entry of the order or judgment on the original motion by the Judge or
Magistrate Judge.” The purpose of a motion for reconsideration “is to correct manifest errors of
law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.” Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou–Ann, Inc. v.
Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999). A judgment may be altered or amended only if the
party seeking reconsideration shows: (1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the
availability of new evidence that was not available when the court granted the motion for summary
judgment; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice. Id.
A motion for reconsideration may not be used to re-litigate old matters or argue new matters
that could have been raised before the original decision was reached. P. Schoenfeld Asset Mgmt.,
L.L.C. v. Cendant Corp., 161 F. Supp. 2d 349, 352 (D.N.J. 2001). Mere disagreement with the
Court will not suffice to show that the Court overlooked relevant facts or controlling law, United
States v. Compaction Sys. Corp., 88 F. Supp. 2d 339, 345 (D.N.J. 1999), and should be dealt with
through the normal appellate process, S.C. ex rel. C.C. v. Deptford Twp. Bd. of Educ., 248 F. Supp.
2d 368, 381 (D.N.J. 2003).
4. Here, Petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration pursuant to L. Civ. R. 7.1(i) is substantially
untimely. The Court entered its Opinion and Order on September 17, 2014 and Petitioner did not
Sweet, 758 F.2d 117, 120 (3d Cir. 1985)). However, the Court can consider and deny a Rule 60(b)
motion even while a case is on appeal. Fed. R. Civ. P. 62.1(a)(2) (“If a timely motion is made for
relief that the court lacks authority to grant because of an appeal that has been docketed and is
pending, the court may . . . (2) deny the motion[.]”); Kull, 543 F. App’x at 248 (“[U]nder Rule
62.1(a)(2), the District Court had discretion to deny the [Rule 60(b)] motion.”). Because the Court
is denying the Motion, see infra, the Court can consider the Motion even though this case is on
appeal. See Ginsburg v. Birenbaum, 2008 WL 2073975, at *1-2 (W.D. Pa. May 14, 2008) (“[T]he
filing of a notice of appeal does not divest a district court of jurisdiction to [deny] a Rule 60(b)
motion”) (quoting United States v. Contents of Accounts Numbers 3034504504 and 144-07143 at
Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith, Inc., 971 F.2d 974, 988 (3d Cir. 1992)).
file his Motion until July 20, 2015—almost ten months after the deadline to do so had passed. 2
Moreover, even if it was not untimely, Petitioner has provided no valid basis for this Court to
reconsider its previous ruling. The “new evidence” Petitioner provides is simply the evidence from
his ongoing state criminal proceedings. (See D.E. No. 10 at 1). As this Court previously concluded,
he has not presented any extraordinary or exceptional circumstances, and Petitioner is simply
attempting to litigate constitutional defenses prematurely in federal court. As such, Petitioner’s
Motion for Reconsideration pursuant to L. CIV. R. 7.1(i) is denied.
5. Petitioner also seeks relief pursuant to Rule 60(b). A motion pursuant to that rule “must
be made within a reasonable time . . . no more than a year after the entry of the judgment.” FED.
R. CIV. P. 60(c). Under subsections (2) and (3), relied upon by Petitioner, a party may seek relief
from a final order based on: “newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not
have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b),” or “fraud . . .
misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party.”
Pursuant to Rule 60(b)(2), a district court has discretion to reopen a judgment only if the
newly discovered evidence is material and would “probably have changed the outcome” of the
proceedings. Sanders v. Downs, 622 F. App’x 127, 130 (3d Cir. 2015) (citing Bohus v. Beloff, 950
F.2d 919, 930 (3d Cir. 1991)). To prevail on a Rule 60(b)(3) motion, the moving party must
establish that the adverse party engaged in fraud or other misconduct, and that this misconduct
prevented the moving party from fully and fairly presenting his case. Johnson v. Rardin, 627 F.
App’x 140 (3d Cir. Sept. 23, 2015) (citing Stridiron v. Stridiron, 698 F.2d 204, 206–07 (3d
To the extent the Court were to consider this motion as one pursuant to Rule 59(e), such a motion
would also be substantially out of time. See FED. R. CIV. P. 59(e) (“A motion to alter or amend a
judgment must be filed no later than 28 days after the entry of the judgment.”).
6. As discussed above, the “newly discovered evidence” does not alter the Court’s previous
ruling, and Petitioner has alleged no facts or circumstances which would otherwise warrant this
Court’s intervention in his still-ongoing state criminal proceedings. Moreover, with regard to Rule
60(b)(3), the Court did not order Respondent to file an Answer or otherwise enter an appearance in
this matter, so it is unclear as to how the adverse party in this case could have engaged in fraud or
other misconduct that somehow prevented Petitioner from fully and fairly presenting his case.
Nevertheless, even if Petitioner had somehow been prevented from fully and fairly presenting his
case, he has now been able to do so and the Court does not find any reason to amend its previous
7. Petitioner also asks the Court to appoint him counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d).
(D.E. No. 9). In assessing whether appointment of counsel is appropriate, the Court must first ask
whether there exists “some merit in fact and law” to Petitioner’s claim. Tabron v. Grace, 6 F.3d
147, 155 (3d Cir. 1993) (internal quotations omitted). If the Court determines that Petitioner’s claim
has some merit in fact and law, then there are additional factors to consider. Id. Here, as explained
above, Petitioner’s claim has no merit in either fact or law, and thus his motion for appointment of
8. For the foregoing reasons, Petitioner’s motions, (D.E. Nos. 8 & 9), are denied. An
appropriate order follows.
Esther Salas, U.S.D.J.
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