United States District Court, D. Delaware
JAMES A. THOMAS, Petitioner,
DANA METZGER, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.
1993, Thomas pled guilty to first and second degree unlawful
sexual intercourse, and he was sentenced to life in prison
plus twenty years. (D.I. 1-1 at 2) In 2001, this court
dismissed as time-barred Thomas' first habeas petition
challenging his 1993 convictions. See Thomas v.
Snyder, 2001 WL 1297812 (D. Del. Oct. 3, 2001). In 2016,
Thomas filed another habeas petition challenging his 1993
convictions, which the Honorable Sue L. Robinson dismissed on
January 23, 2017 for lack jurisdiction because it was an
unauthorized second or successive habeas petition. (D.I. 3;
February 1-2, 2017, a hostage incident took place at the
James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware,
where Thomas is housed. The docket demonstrates that Thomas
did not file a notice of appeal from the January 23, 2017
during the months of January, February, March, April, and May
in a letter dated April 28, 2017 and sent directly to the
Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Thomas inquired about the
status of his appeal from the dismissal of his petition.
(D.I. 5 at 3) In a letter dated May 8, 2017, the Third
Circuit informed Thomas that a Court of Appeals cannot extend
the time to appeal or excuse an untimely notice of appeal,
and that only the District Court may grant such an extension.
(D.I. 5 at 3) On June 2, 2017, Thomas filed a motion for an
extension of time to file an appeal, citing Federal Rules of
Appellate Procedure 4(a)(5) and 4(a)(6). (D.I. 5 at 1)
October 2017, Thomas filed a Notice of Appeal in this court.
(D.I. 6) On November I, 2017, the Third Circuit issued an
order explaining that the appeal would be held in abeyance
until the disposition of Thomas"'motion to reopen
the appeal pursuant to Fed. R. App. R. 4(a)(6)." (D.I.
10) On November 22, 2017, Thomas filed a Rule 60(b)(6) motion
for reconsideration. (D.I. 11)
MOTION TO REOPEN TIME TO APPEAL
taking of an appeal within the prescribed time is mandatory
and jurisdictional." Bowles v. Russell, 551
U.S. 205, 209 (2007). In order to comply with Federal Rule of
Appellate Procedure 4(a)(1)(A)'s 30 day period for filing
an appeal, Thomas had to file his notice of appeal by
February 23, 2017. Thomas filed his motion to
reopen the time file an appeal on June 2, 2017,
100 days after the last date on which he could have filed a
to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(6) ("Rule
4(a)(6)"), the court may grant Thomas' motion to
reopen the time appeal for 14 days if: (A) Thomas did not
receive notice of the dismissal of his second or successive
habeas petition within 21 days after entry of the judgment of
dismissal (February 14, 2017); (B) Thomas filed his motion to
reopen the time to appeal within 180 days after the entry of
the judgment of dismissal (July 24, 2017) or within 14 days
after he received notice under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 77(d) of the entry of the judgment of dismissal,
whichever is earlier; and (C) no party would be prejudiced.
See Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(6).
case, the memorandum and order dismissing Thomas' habeas
petition was signed and entered on the docket on January 23,
2017. Eight days later, a hostage incident took place in the
prison where Thomas was (and still is) housed. The prison was
put on lockdown during the emergency hostage situation and
remained on lockdown for an unspecified time thereafter.
Given these unique circumstances, the court will presume that
Thomas did not receive notice of the dismissal of his
petition by February 14, 2017, thereby satisfying Rule
Rule 4(a)(6)(B)'s requirements regarding the timing of
the motion's filing, Thomas does not address, and the
court cannot discern, whether he filed the motion to reopen
within 14 days after receiving Fed.R.Civ.P. 77(d) notice of
the dismissal of his petition.However, Thomas did file his
motion to reopen the time to appeal on June 2, 2017, which
was well-before the July 24, 2017 expiration date for the 180
day filing period. Once again, given the extremely unique
circumstances caused by the hostage situation, the court
views Thomas' compliance with the 180 day filing
requirement as satisfying Fed. App. Proc. R. 4(a)(6)(B).
Fed. R. App. Proc. 4(a)(6)(C) is satisfied, because no party
will be prejudiced by granting the motion to reopen.
on the foregoing, the court will grant Thomas' motion to
reopen the time to appeal the January 23, 2017 dismissal of
his habeas petition. (D.I. 5) Since Thomas already filed a
notice of appeal on October 27, 2017, the court will not
direct him to file another notice of appeal.
MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION FILED PURSUANT TO FEDERAL RULE OF
CIVIL PROCEDURE 60(b)(6)
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 ...