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OKONKWO v. LACY

August 18, 1995

CHARLES OKONKWO, Petitioner, against PETER LACY, Respondent.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHIRA A. SCHEINDLIN

 SHIRA A. SCHEINDLIN, U.S.D.J.

 By Opinion and Order dated June 2, 1995 ("the Opinion") this Court issued a conditional writ of habeas corpus in the above-captioned matter. The case was remanded to the state trial court for an evidentiary hearing and findings with respect to closure of the courtroom to the public during a portion of Petitioner Okonkwo's trial. Petitioner now moves, pursuant to Fed. P. Civ. P. 52(b) and 59(e) for an order amending the Court's findings, issuing additional findings, or altering or amending the judgment. Because the procedural history and facts of this case are set out in the Opinion, they are only briefly discussed below.

 BACKGROUND

 Charles Okonkwo, a New York State prisoner, filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner challenged his 1990 state court conviction, asserting that his Fourteenth Amendment rights and his Sixth Amendment right to a public trial were violated when the state trial court ordered closure of the courtroom during the testimony of an undercover police officer. Petitioner claims that order failed to satisfy the four requirements for closure set forth in Waller v. Georgia, 467 U.S. 39, 48, 81 L. Ed. 2d 31, 104 S. Ct. 2210 (1984).

 This Court held that, by virtue of the decision of the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, two of the four prongs of the Waller test were procedurally defaulted. *fn1" This Court also found that, in violation of the fourth prong of Waller, the trial court failed to make findings adequately supporting closure. *fn2" Due to the inadequate findings, review of the Waller prong requiring an overriding state interest likely to be prejudiced was impossible. *fn3" The case was remanded to the state trial court "for an evidentiary hearing as to the propriety of the closure of the proceedings to the public during the testimony of the undercover officer." *fn4" The trial court was directed to issue explicit findings to satisfy Waller. This motion followed.

 DISCUSSION

 A. The Legal Standard

 Whether petitioner moved pursuant to the appropriate Federal Rules is questionable. Rules 52 and 59 pertain to trials and judgments. Nevertheless, petitioner's intent is clear, and this Court deems that his request constitutes a motion to reargue pursuant to Local Rule 3(j).

 Courts in this District have clearly established the standard for moving to reargue.

 
The only proper ground on which a party may move to reargue an unambiguous order is that the court has overlooked [important facts or controlling law] which, had they been considered, might reasonably have altered the result reached by the court.

 Adams v. U.S., 686 F. Supp. 417, 418 (S.D.N.Y. 1988) (citations omitted); see also, Fulani v. Brady, 149 F.R.D. 501 (S.D.N.Y. 1993) ("local Rule 3(j) is to be narrowly construed and strictly applied so as to avoid repetitive arguments on issues that have been considered fully by the court"), aff'd, 35 F.3d 49 (2d Cir. 1994).

 B. The Merits

 1. Remand to State ...


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