United States District Court, D. Delaware
CHRISTOPHER H. WEST, Petitioner,
DANA METZER, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.
Honorable Maryellen Noreika United States District Judge.
pending before the Court is Petitioner Christopher
West’s Motion for Reconsideration under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 60(b)(1) and (2) asking the Court to
reconsider the October 2017 dismissal of his habeas Petition
as time-barred. (D.I. 69). Petitioner has also filed two
Motions to Amend the original Rule 60(b) Motion, presumably
to also request reconsideration under Rule 60(b)(6). (D.I.
75; D.I. 77). While the Court will grant the Motions to
Amend, for the reasons discussed below, it will deny
Petitioner’s request for reconsideration.
January 2012, Petitioner pled guilty to one count each of
first and second degree robbery. See West v. State,
100 A.3d 1022 (Table), 2014 WL 4264922, at *1 (Del. Aug. 28,
2014). On March 30, 2012, the Superior Court sentenced
Petitioner as a habitual offender to a total of twenty-eight
years at Level V incarceration, to be suspended after serving
twenty-five years in prison for decreasing levels of
supervision. Petitioner did not file a direct appeal.
February 27, 2013, Petitioner filed a pro se motion for
post-conviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court
Criminal Rule 61 (“Rule 61 motion”). The Rule 61
motion was referred to a Superior Court Commissioner, who
issued a Report and Recommendation to deny the Rule 61
motion. See State v. West, 2015 WL 3429919, at *1
(Del. Super. Ct. May 21, 2015). The Superior Court adopted
that Report and Recommendation on January 7, 2014 and denied
the Rule 61 motion. Id. The Delaware Supreme Court
affirmed that decision on August 28, 2014. See West, 2014 WL
December 2014, Petitioner filed in this Court a habeas
petition, followed by an amended petition, asserting the
following five grounds for relief: (1) his habitual offender
sentence is illegal because one of the predicate convictions
is illegal; (2) his guilty plea was unknowing and
involuntary; (3) defense counsel provided ineffective
assistance; (4) his confession was coerced; and (5) he was
deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. (D.I. 3;
D.I. 9). The State filed an answer asserting that the
petition should be denied as time-barred or, alternatively,
because the claims lack merit. (D.I. 21).
February 24, 2015, Petitioner filed in the Delaware Superior
Court a second Rule 61 motion and a motion to withdraw his
guilty plea. See West, 2015 WL 3429919, at *1-2. The Superior
Court treated the motion to withdraw the guilty plea as
Petitioner’s third Rule 61 motion and denied his second
and third Rule 61 motions on May 21, 2015. Id.
April and May of 2016, Petitioner filed a Rule 35(a) motion
and an amended Rule 35(a) motion for correction of sentence.
See West, 148 A.3d 687 (Table), 2016 WL 5349354, at *1 (Del.
Aug. 31, 2016). The Superior Court denied the motions, and
the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision on
September 23, 2016. See West, 2016 WL 5349354, at *2.
October 23, 2017, the Honorable Gregory M. Sleet denied
Petitioner’s habeas petition as time-barred. (D.I. 67;
D.I. 68). On September 25, 2018, Petitioner filed a Rule
60(b) Motion for Reconsideration, contending that there were
reasons “to overturn [the Court’s] order denying
his Habeas Petition due to ‘newly discovered evidence,
’” and “mistake and inadvertence, ”
because of the “significantly long stretches of time
during which [Petitioner] was housed in cells under
Psychological Close Observation (“PCO”) status
level in which he did not have access to writing
material.” (D.I. 69 at 4-5). He also filed two Motions
to Amend his Rule 60(b) Motion. (D.I. 75; D.I. 77). The Court
ordered the State to respond to the Rule 60(b) Motion, and
the State filed its Response on November 19, 2018. (D.I. 71;
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion for reconsideration filed pursuant to Rule 60(b) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “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) provides that a party may file a motion for relief from
a final judgment for the following reasons:
(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;
(2) newly discovered evidence by which due diligence could
not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial
under Rule 59(b); (3) fraud (whether heretofore denominated
intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation or other
misconduct of an adverse party; (4) the judgment is void; (5)
the judgment has been satisfied, released or discharged, or a
prior judgment upon which it is based has been reversed or
otherwise vacated, or it is no longer equitable that the
judgment should have prospective application; or (6) any
other reason justifying relief from the operation of the
Civ. P. 60(b). Rule 60(b) motions are left to the sound
discretion of the trial court, consistent with accepted legal
principles applied in light of all relevant circumstances.
Pierce Assoc. Inc. v. Nemours Found., 865 F.2d 530,
548 (3d Cir. 1988). A Rule 60(b) motion, however, is not
appropriate to reargue issues that the court has ...