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White v. Metzger

United States District Court, D. Delaware

August 30, 2019

ANTHONY WHITE, Petitioner,
v.
DANA METZGER, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM

          The Honorable Maryellen Noreika United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         In March 2007, a Delaware Superior Court jury convicted Petitioner Anthony White (“Petitioner”) of attempted first degree murder and a weapons offense, and acquitted him of conspiracy. (D.I 27 at 2). Petitioner appealed, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed his convictions and sentence in September 2008. See White v. State, 957 A.2d 2 (Table), 2008 WL 4107980, at *1 (Del. Sept. 2008). After the disposition of two post-conviction proceedings in the Delaware state courts, Petitioner filed a habeas petition in this Court. (D.I. 27 at 2-4). In July 2014, the Honorable Gregory M. Sleet denied the petition as time-barred and alternatively concluded that the claims were meritless or procedurally barred. (D.I. 27; D.I. 28). In July 2015, Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of that decision, (D.I. 29), which Judge Sleet denied (D.I. 30; D.I. 31). In February 2018, Petitioner filed a second Motion for Reconsideration pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 59(e) and 60(b) (D.I. 33) simultaneously with a Motion to Stay and Abey the Motion for Reconsideration (D.I. 34). On July 20, 2018, Judge Sleet denied the second Motion for Reconsideration as meritless and the Motion to Stay as moot. (D.I. 36; D.I. 37).

         Presently pending before the Court are Petitioner's third and fourth Rule 59(e)/60(b) Motions for Reconsideration. (D.I. 38; D.I. 40). They are identical in content and assert that his habeas petition should be reopened due to newly discovered evidence. (D.I. 38 at 1; D.I. 40 at 1).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A motion for reconsideration may be filed pursuant Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) or Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). Although motions for reconsideration under Rule 59(e) and Rule 60(b) serve similar functions, each has a particular purpose. See United States v. Fiorelli, 337 F.3d 282, 288 (3d Cir. 2003). For instance, Rule 59(e) is “a device to relitigate the original issue decided by the district court, and [it is] used to allege legal error.” Fiorelli, 337 F.3d at 288. The moving party must show one of the following in order to prevail on a Rule 59(e) motion: (1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court issued its order; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent a manifest injustice. See Max's Seafood Café v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999). A motion filed pursuant to Rule 59(e) must be filed no later than twenty-eight days after the entry of the judgment. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e).

         In contrast, “Rule 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 motion filed pursuant to Rule 60(b) is addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court guided by accepted legal principles applied in light of all relevant circumstances, [1] but may be granted only in extraordinary circumstances. See Moolenaar v. Gov't of Virgin Islands, 822 F.2d 1342, 1346 (3d Cir. 1987). Notably, a motion for reconsideration 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 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. § 2244(b)(3)(A); Robinson v. Johnson, 313 F.3d 128, 139-40 (3d Cir. 2002).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Petitioner filed his Motions for Reconsideration pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 59(e) and 60(b). To the extent the motions are filed pursuant to Rule 59(e), they are time-barred, because they were filed almost five full years after the entry of the judgment in July 2014 and approximately five months after the denial of his second Rule 60(b) motion in July 2018. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) (a “motion to amend a judgment must be filed no later than 28 days after the entry of the judgment.”).

         To the extent the motions are filed pursuant to Rule 60(b), the Court must first determine if they constitute “true” motions for reconsideration, or if they constitute a second or successive habeas application under the AEDPA. See Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 529-30. In the instant Rule 60(b) motions, Petitioner appears to contend that he is entitled to Rule 60(b)(6) relief on the basis of the following “newly” discovered evidence:

1. An unsigned/unsworn statement summarizing a purported interview of Qy-Mere Maddrey (“Maddrey Summary”) conducted by an investigator on April 13, 2017. The investigative insert states that Maddrey is the uncle of [Petitioner's] child, Maddrey admits to shooting Tucker, and ...

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