United States District Court, D. Delaware
CHRISTOPHER R. DESMOND, Petitioner,
SUPERIOR COURT OF DELAWARE, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.
HONORABLE LEONARD P. STARK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court are Petitioner Christopher R. Desmond's
("Petitioner") Motions For Reconsideration Pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) ("Motions
for Reconsideration) regarding the dismissal of his Petition
for Writ of Mandamus. (D.I. 24; D.I. 27; D.I. 28: D.I. 29) For
the reasons discussed, the Court will deny the Motions for
1992, a Delaware Superior Court jury convicted Petitioner on
multiple counts of first degree robbery, possession of a
deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, second
degree conspiracy, possession of a deadly weapon by a person
prohibited, theft, and third degree escape. He was sentenced
to more than 70 years at Level V incarceration. See State
v. Desmond, 2014 WL 7009341, at *1 (Del. Super. Ct. Dec.
2, 2014). The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed his convictions
and sentence on direct appeal. See Desmond v. State,
654 A.2d 821 (Del. 1994).
1996, Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas
corpus, which the Honorable Gregory M. Sleet denied after
finding four claims were procedurally barred and three claims
were meritless. See Desmond v. Snyder, 1999 WL
33220036 (D. Del. Nov. 16, 1999). Petitioner filed a second
petition for habeas relief, which the Honorable Joseph J.
Farnan, Jr. dismissed for lack of jurisdiction because it was
second or successive. See Desmond v. Carroll, Civ.
A. No. 02-1501-JJF, Order (D. Del. Oct. 2, 2002). On August
13, 2003, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit denied
Petitioner's application to file a second or successive
habeas petition. See In Re Desmond, Civ. A.
No. 03-2416, Order (3d Cir. Aug. 13, 2003).
2005, Petitioner filed in his original 1996 habeas proceeding
a Rule 60(b) motion for reconsideration of the 1999 denial of
his first habeas petition, arguing that claims one, five,
six, and seven of his 1996 habeas petition should not have
been dismissed for being procedurally barred. The Honorable
Gregory M. Sleet denied the Rule 60(b) motion. See
Desmond v. Snyder, Civ. A. No. 96-327-GMS, Order (D.
Del. Apr. 5, 2006). The Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied
Petitioner's motion for a certificate of appealability
with respect to that decision. See Desmond v.
Snyder, Civ. A. No. 06-2359, Order (3d Cir. Nov. 30,
2006). In 2013, Petitioner filed a Rule 59(e) motion for
reargument in the same 1996 case, which the Honorable Gregory
M. Sleet denied. See Desmond v. Snyder, Civ. A. No.
96-327-GMS, Memorandum Order (D. Del. Dec. 19, 2013). The
Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied Desmond's motion
for a certificate of appealability with respect to that
decision, see Desmond v. Snyder, Civ. A. No.
14-1005, Order (3d Cir. May 29, 2014), and then denied his
petition for rehearing, see Desmond v. Snyder, Civ.
A. No. 14-1005, Order (3d Cir. June 24, 2014). In 2014,
Petitioner filed a motion to reopen the case, which the
Honorable Gregory M. Sleet denied. See Desmond p.
Snyder, Civ. A. No. 96-327-GMS, Memorandum Order (D.
Del. Aug. 24, 2015). On December 15, 2016, the Third Circuit
denied Petitioner's motion for a certificate of
appealability with respect to that decision. (D.I. 119)
in 2011, Desmond filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus
contending that two Delaware state court decisions (State
v. Bridgers, 988 A.2d 939 (Del. Super. Ct. 2007),
aff'd, State v. Bridgers, 970 A.2d 257 (Table),
2009 WL 824536 pel. Mar. 30, 2009), and State v.
Owens, 2010 WL 2892701 (Del. Super. Ct. July 16, 2010))
demonstrated that the Delaware state courts and this Court
misinterpreted the first degree robbery statute, Del. Code
Ann. tit. 11, § 832, in refusing to vacate his
convictions for eight counts of first degree robbery. See
Desmond v. Phelps, 2012 WL 3518531 (D. Del. Aug. 15,
2012). A new case was opened, and this Court denied the
Petition for lack of jurisdiction after determining that it
constituted an unauthorized second or successive habeas
petition. See Id. at *3. The Third Circuit summarily
affirmed that decision. See Desmond v. Phelps, C.A.
No. 12-3552, Order (3d Cir. Feb. 22, 2013).
November 3, 2014, Petitioner filed in this Court a Petition
for Writ of Mandamus, asking the Court to compel the
Respondents to enforce a plea offer from 1992 that had
expired before it was communicated to him; the plea offer
contained a sentencing recommendation of 20 years. (D.I. 2 at
2) Petitioner contended that his "sentence expired on
October 9, 2011, [which was] the full-term of the twenty year
plea, and [that] he is entitled to be released from all
conditions imposed upon him outside the twenty year
uncommunicated plea deal." (D.I. 2 at 2) He argued that
mandamus relief is appropriate because he has no other
remedies available to compel the Respondents to "uphold
their constitutional duties and enforce their own rules of
contract law and notice of pleas." (D.I. 2 at 8, 20) The
instant case was opened and the Court dismissed the Petition
for Writ of Mandamus for lack of jurisdiction after
determining that it constituted an unauthorized second or
successive habeas petition. (D.I. 14; D.I. 15) The Court also
noted that, even were it to treat the filing as a request for
mandamus relief, such relief was not available to him on the
facts presented. (D.I. 14 at 4 n.2) Petitioner appealed, and
the Third Circuit declined to issue a certificate of
appealability with respect to that decision. (D.I. 23) Since
2017, Petitioner has filed four Motions for Reconsideration
(D.I. 24; D.I. 27; D.I. 28; D.I. 29), two Motions to Expand
the Record (D.I. 25; D.I. 30), and one Motion to Compel (D.I.
32), all in the instant proceeding.
motion 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). A Rule 60(b) motion is addressed to the
sound discretion of the trial court guided by accepted legal
principles applied in light of all relevant circumstances,
may be granted only in extraordinary circumstances. See
Moolenaar v. Gov't of Virgin Islands, 822 F.2d 1342,
1346 (3d Cir. 1987). A motion for reconsideration is not an
occasion 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).
when, as here, a district court is presented with a motion
for reconsideration after it has denied the petitioner's
federal habeas petition, the Court must first determine if
the motion constitutes a second or successive application
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 application without first obtaining
approval from the appropriate court of appeals and, absent
such authorization, a district court cannot consider the
merits of a subsequent application. See 28 U.S.C.