Bennett v. Bennett

Filing 22

ORDER by Judge James L. Robart. The Court DENIES Mr. Bennetts 15 , 16 , 17 , 18 , 19 20 and 21 MOTIONS For Relief From Judgment and DENIES his request for a certificate of appealability. **10 PAGE(S), PRINT ALL**(Howard Bennett, Prisoner ID: 912236)(MIH)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 8 9 HOWARD S. BENNETT, 10 11 v. 12 CASE NO. C24-0272JLR ORDER Petitioner, JASON BENNETT, 13 Respondent. 14 I. 15 16 INTRODUCTION On May 29, 2024, the court adopted in its entirety Magistrate Judge Michelle L. 17 Peterson’s report and recommendation, dismissed pro se Petitioner Howard S. Bennett’s 18 28 U.S.C. § 2241 petition for a writ of habeas corpus as untimely, and entered judgment. 19 (5/29/24 Order (Dkt. # 11); Judgment (Dkt. # 12); R&R (Dkt. # 8); Petition (Dkt. #5).) 20 // 21 // 22 // ORDER - 1 1 On June 5, 2024, Mr. Bennett 1 filed a notice of appeal of the court’s order dismissing his 2 case. (NOA (Dkt. # 13).) On June 11, 2024, Mr. Bennett filed his first motion for relief 3 from judgment. (See Dkt. # 15.) 4 On June 21, 2024, Mr. Bennett filed three additional documents titled “Motion for 5 Relief from Judgment”: Docket number 16, which Mr. Bennett represents corrects his 6 original motion for relief from judgment by including the case number in the caption (see 7 Dkt. # 16 at 3), and docket numbers 17 and 18, each of which includes an additional 8 ground for relief from judgment (see Dkt. ## 17-18). On June 25, 2024, Mr. Bennett 9 filed three more documents titled “Motion for Relief from Judgment,” each of which, 10 again, includes an additional ground for relief. (See Dkt. ## 19-21.) Mindful of its duty 11 to liberally construe a pro se petitioner’s filings, the court considers docket numbers 15 12 through 18 and 19 through 21 together as constituting Mr. Bennett’s motion for relief 13 from judgment. The court has considered Mr. Bennett’s motion, the relevant portions of 14 the record, and the governing law. Being fully advised, the court DENIES Mr. Bennett’s 15 motion for relief from judgment. II. 16 BACKGROUND 17 Mr. Bennett is a state prisoner who is currently confined at the Stafford Creek 18 Corrections Center in Aberdeen, Washington, pursuant to a state-court judgment and 19 sentence issued in February 1998. (See Petition at 1.) Mr. Bennett argues that his 20 21 22 1 The petition has not been served on Respondent Jason Bennett, and Jason Bennett has not appeared in this action. (See generally Dkt.) Thus, the court refers to Petitioner Howard S. Bennett as “Mr. Bennett” throughout this order. ORDER - 2 1 confinement is illegal because the Pierce County District Court did not issue a valid arrest 2 warrant in his criminal case. (See generally Memorandum (Dkt. # 5-2); Bennett Aff. 3 (Dkt. # 5-1) (describing his efforts to obtain a copy of his arrest warrant).) 4 On February 28, 2024, Mr. Bennett filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma 5 pauperis (“IFP”) and a proposed § 2241 petition in this court. (IFP Mot. (Dkt. # 1).) He 6 filed a corrected IFP motion on March 7, 2024. (2d IFP Mot. (Dkt. # 3).) On March 15, 7 2024, Magistrate Judge Peterson (1) granted Mr. Bennett’s corrected IFP motion; 8 (2) filed Mr. Bennett’s petition on the docket; and (3) issued an order construing Mr. 9 Bennett’s petition as filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and directing Mr. Bennett to 10 show cause why the petition should not be dismissed as time-barred because the statute of 11 limitations for Mr. Bennett to file a § 2254 petition relating to his 1998 conviction and 12 sentence expired in December 2001, more than 22 years before Mr. Bennett filed his 13 petition in this case. (IFP Ord. (Dkt. # 4); Petition; OSC (Dkt. # 7).) 14 Mr. Bennett did not respond the order to show cause. (See generally Dkt.) On 15 May 2, 2024, Magistrate Judge Peterson filed a report and recommendation in which she 16 recommended dismissing the petition as time-barred. (See generally R&R.) Mr. Bennett 17 filed timely objections on May 8, 2024. (See generally Obj.) On May 9, 2024, the court 18 overruled Mr. Bennett’s objections; adopted the report and recommendation in its 19 entirety; dismissed Mr. Bennett’s habeas petition; and entered judgment. (See generally 20 5/9/24 Order. See also Judgment.) The instant motion followed. 21 22 ORDER - 3 III. 1 2 ANALYSIS In each of his seven purported motions for relief from judgment, Mr. Bennett cites 3 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(4), which provides that the court may relieve a 4 party from a final judgment if the judgment is void. (See, e.g., Dkt # 15 at 1 (citing Fed. 5 R. Civ. P. 60(b)(4)).) The court also understands that Mr. Bennett seeks relief pursuant to 6 Rule 60(b)(6), which empowers the court to relieve a party from a final judgment for any 7 reason that justifies relief. (See, e.g., Dkt. # 15 at 1 (citing Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 8 524, 528 n.1 (2005) (stating that the substance of petitioner’s motion “made clear that 9 [he] sought relief under Rule 60(b)(6)”).) As a remedy, Mr. Bennett “requests this 10 [c]ourt to re open habeas proceedings based on the failure to apply United States 11 Supreme Court precedent in the determination of the Fourth Amendment – Unlawful 12 Seizure claim, presented in his [§] 2241 petition.” (See, e.g., Dkt. # 15 at 2 (citing 13 Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362 (2000)).) He also seeks a certificate of appealability “to 14 avoid a dilatory remand for the limited purpose of granting or denying a certificate of 15 appealability.” (See, e.g., id.) 16 Rule 60(b) “allows a party to seek relief from a final judgment, and request 17 reopening of his case, under a limited set of circumstances.” Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 528. 18 Rule 60(b)(4) provides relief from a final judgment if it is void as a matter of law. Fed. 19 R. Civ. P. 60(b)(4). “The list of such judgments is ‘exceedingly short,’ and ‘Rule 20 60(b)(4) applies only in the rare instance where a judgment is premised either on a certain 21 type of jurisdictional error or on a violation of due process that deprives a party of notice 22 or the opportunity to be heard.’” Dietz v. Bouldin, 794 F.3d 1093, 1096 (9th Cir. 2015) ORDER - 4 1 (quoting United Student Aid Funds, Inc. v. Espinosa, 559 U.S. 260, 271 (2010)), aff’d, 2 579 U.S. 40 (2016). Rule 60(b)(6), meanwhile, allows a court to relieve a party from a 3 final judgment for any reason justifying relief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6). The party 4 seeking relief under Rule 60(b)(6) must show “‘extraordinary circumstances’ justifying 5 the reopening of a final judgment.” Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 535 (quoting Ackermann v. 6 United States, 340 U.S. 193, 199 (1950)). The court concludes that Mr. Bennett has 7 failed to make the requisite showing under Rule 60(b)(4) and Rule 60(b)(6). 8 9 First, Mr. Bennett “requests an application of the analysis set forth in” Ornelas v. United States, 517 U.S. 690 (1996). (Dkt. # 15 at 1; Dkt. # 16 at 1.) He asserts that 10 “noteworthy is the historical fa[c]t that petitioner filed a Motion Requesting Evidentiary 11 Hearing pursuant to Evidence Rule 201(e), which received no consideration.” (See Dkt. 12 # 15 at 1-2, Dkt. # 16 at 1-2.) He further asserts that § 2254(d)(2) “commands that a 13 federal habeas court must make as the starting point of their analysis the state court’s 14 determination of fact including a mixed question.” (Dkt. # 15 at 2 (citing Ornelas, 517 15 U.S. at 696); Dkt. # 16 at 2 (same).) In Ornelas, the Supreme Court held that “the 16 ultimate questions of reasonable suspicion and probable cause to make a warrantless 17 search [in violation of the Fourth Amendment] should be reviewed de novo” on direct 18 appeal. Ornelas, 517 U.S. at 691. Mr. Bennett did not file a motion requesting an 19 evidentiary hearing in this case (see generally Dkt.) and the court was not in a position to 20 review “the state court’s determination of fact” because Mr. Bennett’s habeas petition 21 was untimely (see generally 5/9/24 Order). Mr. Bennett has not shown that this is one of 22 the “rare instances” justifying relief under Rule 60(b)(4), nor has he demonstrated ORDER - 5 1 “extraordinary circumstances” justifying relief under Rule 60(b)(6). Therefore, the court 2 denies his motion for relief from judgment on the grounds raised in docket numbers 15 3 and 16. 4 Second, Mr. Bennett asserts that the court “violated the Magistrates Act and 5 Habeas Rule 8(b) by rechara[c]terizing petitioner’s 28 U.S.C. § 2241 to a 28 U.S.C. 6 § 2254.” (Dkt. # 17 at 1-2 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Rules Governing Section 2254 7 Cases in the United States District Courts Rule 8(b) (hereinafter “2254 Rule 8(b)”); 8 Castro v. United States, 540 U.S. 375 (2003); Gomez v. United States, 490 U.S. 858 9 (1989); Dawson v. Marshall, 561 F.3d 930, 932 (9th Cir. 2009).) The Magistrates Act 10 provides, in relevant part, that “[a] judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in 11 whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 12 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). “The statute makes it clear that the district judge must review the 13 magistrate judge’s findings and recommendations de novo if objection is made, but not 14 otherwise.” United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir. 2003) (en 15 banc). Here, the court adopted Magistrate Judge Peterson’s recommendation to construe 16 Mr. Bennett’s § 2241 petition as a § 2254 petition after conducting a de novo review of 17 Mr. Bennett’s petition and his memorandum in support thereof. (See 5/9/24 Order at 4.) 18 The court held that “although Mr. Bennett asserts that the state court judgment was 19 improper, he is nevertheless ‘a state prisoner in custody pursuant to a state court 20 judgment’ and thus any challenge to that judgment must be brought pursuant to § 2254.” 21 (Id. (quoting Dominguez v. Kernan, 906 F.3d 1127, 1135 (9th Cir. 2018)). Mr. Bennett 22 does not explain how the court’s prior holding is one of the “rare instances” justifying ORDER - 6 1 relief under Rule 60(b)(4) and does not identify “extraordinary circumstances” justifying 2 relief under Rule 60(b)(6). Thus, the court denies his motion for relief from judgment on 3 the grounds asserted in docket number 17. 4 Third, Mr. Bennett asserts that the court “violated the Magistrates Act and Habeas 5 Rule 8(b) by failing to conduct de novo review of the Affidavit in Support of 28 U.S.C 6 § 2241.” (Dkt. # 18 at 1-2 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); 2254 Rule 8(b); Gomez, 490 7 U.S. 858; Dawson, 561 F.3d at 932).) The court, however, reviewed Mr. Bennett’s 8 affidavit de novo and found “nothing in the affidavit to support a finding that Mr. 9 Bennett’s petition was timely.” (See 5/9/24 Order at 4-5 (citing Bennett Aff. (Dkt. 10 # 5-1)).) Again, Mr. Bennett does not explain how the court’s prior ruling qualifies as a 11 “rare instance” or “extraordinary circumstance” justifying relief under Rules 60(b)(4) and 12 (6). Therefore, the court denies his motion for relief from judgment on the ground 13 asserted in docket number 18. 14 Fourth, Mr. Bennett asserts that the court “violated the Magistrate’s Act and 15 Habeas Rule 8(b) by failing to conduct de novo review of the Motion Requesting Judicial 16 Notice in Support of 28 U.S.C. § 2241.” (Dkt. # 19 at 1-2 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); 17 2254 Rule 8(b); Gomez, 490 U.S. 858; Dawson, 561 F.3d at 932; Fed R. Evid. 201(e)).) 18 The court, however, reviewed Mr. Bennett’s motion for judicial notice de novo and found 19 “nothing in the attached documents that would alter the conclusion that Mr. Bennett’s 20 petition was untimely.” (5/9/24 Order at 5 (citing Judicial Notice Mot. (Dkt. # 6)).) Mr. 21 Bennett does not explain why the court’s judgment qualifies as one of the “rare 22 instances” or “extraordinary circumstances” justifying relief under Rules 60(b)(4) and ORDER - 7 1 (6). Accordingly, the court denies Mr. Bennett’s motion for relief from judgment on the 2 ground asserted in docket number 19. 3 Fifth, Mr. Bennett asserts that the court “violated the Magistrate’s Act and Habeas 4 Rule 8(b) by failing to conduct de novo review of the MOTION REQUESTING BRADY 5 ORDER IN SUPPORT OF 28 U.S.C. § 2241.” (Dkt. # 20 at 1-2 (citing Brady v. 6 Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); 2254 Rule 8(b); Gomez, 490 U.S. 7 858; Dawson, 561 F.3d at 932).) Mr. Bennett did not, however, file a motion with this 8 court requesting an order pursuant to Brady v. Maryland (see generally Dkt.), and to the 9 extent Mr. Bennett argued in his objections that the court should order Respondent to 10 produce a certified copy of his arrest warrant, the court concluded that it could not grant 11 that request because Mr. Bennett’s petition was untimely (see 5/9/24 Order at 5). The 12 court finds no basis for relief pursuant to Rule 60(b) based on the ground asserted in 13 docket number 20. 14 Finally, Mr. Bennett asserts that the court “violated the Magistrate’s Act and 15 Habeas Rule 8(b) by failing to consider if an evidentiary hearing would benefit a merits 16 resolution, nor Petitioner’s right to contest factual disputes and expand the record.” (Dkt. 17 # 21 at 1-2 (citing Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293 (1963); Cullen v. Pinholster, 563 U.S. 18 170, 181-82 (2011); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); 2254 Rule 8(b); Gomez, 490 U.S. 858; 19 Dawson, 561 F.3d at 932).) The court, however, reviewed de novo whether an 20 evidentiary hearing was appropriate in this case and declined to order a hearing because 21 Mr. Bennett “ha[d] not identified any evidence that he could present at an evidentiary 22 hearing that would call into question the conclusion that his petition must be dismissed as ORDER - 8 1 untimely.” (5/9/24 Order at 5-6 (citing Schriro v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 473-74 2 (2007)).) Thus, the court also denies Mr. Bennett’s request for Rule 60(b) relief on the 3 ground asserted in docket number 21. 4 In sum, Mr. Bennett has not established that this matter qualifies as a “rare 5 instance” justifying relief, nor has he demonstrated “extraordinary circumstances” 6 justifying the reopening of a final judgment. Therefore, the court DENIES Mr. Bennett’s 7 motion for relief from judgment. 8 Mr. Bennett seeks a certificate of appealability in relation to his Rule 60(b) 9 motions. A certificate of appealability “should only issue for [an] appeal arising from the 10 denial of a Rule 60(b) motion in a section 2255 proceeding if the movant shows that 11 (1) jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the district court abused its discretion 12 in denying the Rule 60(b) motion and (2) jurists of reason would find it debatable 13 whether the underlying section 2255 motion states a valid claim of the denial of a 14 constitutional right.” United States v. Winkles, 795 F.3d 1134, 1143 (9th Cir. 2015). Mr. 15 Bennett has made neither showing. Accordingly, the court denies Mr. Bennett’s request 16 for a certificate of appealability. 17 // 18 // 19 // 20 // 21 // 22 // ORDER - 9 IV. 1 2 CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons, the court DENIES Mr. Bennett’s motion for relief from 3 judgment (Dkt. ## 15-18, 19-21) and DENIES his request for a certificate of 4 appealability. 5 Dated this 5th day of July, 2024. 6 7 A JAMES L. ROBART United States District Judge 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 ORDER - 10

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