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Woods v. Metzger

United States District Court, D. Delaware

January 23, 2018

BERNARD F. WOODS, Petitioner,
v.
DANA METZGER, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM

         I. INTRODUCTION

         In February 2008, Woods pled guilty to one count each of delivery of cocaine, possession of a deadly weapon by a person prohibited, second degree conspiracy, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. See Woods v. State, 994 A.2d 745 (Table), 2010 WL 1664008 (Del. Apr. 26, 2010). The Delaware Superior Court immediately sentenced him to a total of twenty-nine years of incarceration, suspended after the mandatory minimum fifteen years for a period of probation. Woods did not file a direct appeal. Id.

         In 2013, the Honorable Sue L. Robinson denied Woods' federal habeas petition after determining that the claims asserted therein were either procedurally barred from review or meritless. (D.I. 57; D.I. 58) Woods appealed, and the Third Circuit denied his certificate of appealability on December 31, 2013. (D.I. 59; D.I. 62)

         In May 2017, Woods filed the Rule 60(b)(6) motion for reconsideration (D.I. 63) presently pending before the court, and then he filed a memorandum in support of the motion (D.I. 64) in November 2017.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A motion for reconsideration filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) "allows a party to seek relief from a final judgment, and request reopening of his case, under a limited set of circumstances including fraud, mistake, and newly discovered evidence." Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 528 (2005). Rule 60(b) motions are addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court, and are guided by accepted legal principles applied in light of all relevant circumstances. See Pierce Assoc. Inc. v. Nemours Found., 865 F.2d 530, 548 (3d Cir. 1988). However, a motion for reconsideration and/or to reopen is not appropriate to reargue issues that the court has already considered and decided. See Brambles USA Inc. v. Blocker, 735 F.Supp. 1239, 1240 (D. Del. 1990).

         Additionally, when, as here, a district court is presented with a Rule 60(b) motion after it has denied the petitioner's federal habeas petition, the court must first determine if the Rule 60(b) motion constitutes a second or successive petition under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"). As articulated by the Third Circuit:

in those instances in which the factual predicate of a petitioner's Rule 60(b) motion attacks the manner in which the earlier habeas judgment was procured and not the underlying conviction, the Rule 60(b) motion may be adjudicated on the merits. However, when the Rule 60(b) motion seeks to collaterally attack the petitioner's underlying conviction, the motion should be treated as a successive habeas petition.

Pridgen v. Shannon, 380 F.3d 721, 727 (3d Cir. 2004). Under AEDPA, a prisoner cannot file a second or successive habeas petition without first obtaining approval from the Court of Appeals. Absent such authorization, a district court cannot consider the merits of a subsequent application. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A); Robinson v. Johnson, 313 F.3d 128, 139-40 (3d Cir. 2002).

         III. DISCUSSION

         In his Rule 60(b)(6) motion, Woods contends that his habeas petition was erroneously denied because: (1) there was insufficient evidence to support his weapons convictions; (2) he was fraudulently induced to plead guilty; and (3) he is actually innocent of the weapons convictions. Since this motion does not attack the manner in which the decision denying Woods' petition was procured, the court finds that the motion is not a "true" Rule 60(b)(6) motion. Rather, Woods' motion constitutes a second or successive habeas petition under § 2244, because it re-asserts the same arguments presented in his original habeas petition and also challenges the same convictions and sentences.[1]

         There is no indication that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals authorized the filing of the pending motion. Therefore, the court will dismiss Woods' Rule 60(b)(6) motion for lack of jurisdiction.[2] See Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Court, 28 U.S.C. foil. § 2254 (authorizing summary dismissal of § 2254 petitions); 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(1).

         IV. CONCLUSION

         For the aforementioned reasons, the court will deny the instant Rule 60(b)(6) motion. In addition, the court will not issue a certificate of appealability, because Woods has failed to make a "substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right." 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2); see United States v. Eyer,113 F.3d ...


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