United States District Court, S.D. New York
October 5, 2005.
CHARLES WATSON, a/k/a "Jean Bernier," Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT SWEET, Senior District Judge
By an opinion and order of this Court dated December 23, 2004
and entered on the docket on January 7, 2005, the petition of
Charles Watson, a/k/a Jean Bernier ("Watson") to vacate, set
aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 was
denied as time-barred. See Watson v. United States, No. 04
Civ. 2222 (RWS), 2004 WL 2984303 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 23, 2004) (the
"Opinion"). Familiarity with the opinion is presumed.
By letter dated December 30, 2004 submitted by Watson pro
se and received by the Court on January 4, 2005, Watson sought
reconsideration of the Opinion on the grounds that Watson did not
have the benefit of assigned counsel's response to the
Government's opposition.*fn1 According to Watson, his reply
papers submitted pro se specifically noted that the statute of limitations were not
being discussed therein and would be left for assigned counsel to
The return date for Watson's motion for reconsideration,
originally set for February 9, 2005, was adjourned several times
and ultimately marked fully submitted on September 9, 2005.
For the reasons set forth below, Watson's motion for
reconsideration is denied.
A motion to reconsider "is to be treated as a Rule 59(e) motion
if filed within 10 days of entry of the challenged order and as a
Rule 60(b) motion if filed thereafter." United States v. Clark,
984 F.2d 31, 32 (2d Cir. 1993); see also Jones v. UNUM Life
Ins. Co. of Am., 223 F.3d 130, 136-37 (2d Cir. 2000) ("We have
long held that a postjudgment motion made within 10 days after
entry of judgment, if it involves reconsideration of matters
properly encompassed in a decision on the merits, is to be deemed
a motion to alter or amend the judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e),
thereby extending the time of the parties to appeal."); Lichtenberg v.
Besicorp Group Inc., 204 F.3d 397, 401 (2d Cir. 2000) ("A
postjudgment motion requesting alteration or amendment of the
judgment but denominated a motion under a Rule other than Civil
Rule 59(e) is generally treated as having been made under Rule
59(e), thereby extending the time to appeal, if the motion was
filed within the 10-day period allowed for a Rule 59(e)
motion."); McCowan v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 908 F.2d 1099, 1103
(2d Cir. 1990) ("[M]ost substantive motions brought within ten
days of the entry of judgment are functionally motions under Rule
59(e), regardless of their label or whether relief might also
have been obtained under another provision."); Shapiro v.
Kronfeld, No. 00 Civ. 6286 (RWS), 2005 WL 183137, *2 (S.D.N.Y.
Jan. 27, 2005) ("The decision to construe [defendant's] motion
under Rule 60(b) rather than Rule 59(e) is of little import, as
the standards applied under either motion are, for the purposes
relevant here, the same.").
Local Civil Rule 6.3 also governs motions for reconsideration
in this district and provides, in pertinent part, as follows:
A notice of motion for reconsideration or re-argument
of a court order determining a motion shall be served
within ten (10) days after the entry of the court's
determination of the original motion, or in the case
of a court order resulting in a judgment, within ten
(10) days after the entry of judgment. There shall be
served with the notice of motion a memorandum setting
forth concisely the matters or controlling decisions
which counsel believes the court has overlooked . . .
Local Civ. R. 6.3. Motions to alter or amend judgments under Rule 59(e) and for
reconsideration under Local Civil Rule 6.3 are evaluated under
the same standard. See Word v. Croce, No. 01 Civ. 9614 (LTS),
2004 WL 434038, at * 2 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 9, 2004); Williams v. New
York City Dep't of Corr., 219 F.R.D. 78, 83 (S.D.N.Y. 2003);
Griffin Indus., Inc. v. Petrojam, Ltd., 72 F. Supp. 2d 365
(S.D.N.Y. 1999). On a motion made pursuant to either rule, "`the
moving party must demonstrate controlling law or factual matters
put before the court on the underlying motion that the movant
believes the court overlooked and that might reasonably be
expected to alter the court's decision.'" Word, 2004 WL 434038,
at *2 (quoting Parrish v. Sollecito, 253 F. Supp. 2d 713
(S.D.N.Y. 2003)); see also Williams, 219 F.R.D. at 83.
Alternatively, "`reconsideration may be granted to correct clear
error, prevent manifest injustice or review the court's decision
in light of the availability of new evidence.'" Word, 2004 WL
434038, at *2 (quoting Parrish, 253 F. Supp. 2d at 715).
Rule 59(e) is not an appropriate vehicle for a party
dissatisfied with a court's ruling to secure a rehearing on the
merits with respect to issues already decided, see USA
Certified Merchants, LLC v. Koebel, 273 F. Supp. 2d 501, 503
(S.D.N.Y. 2003); Parrish, 253 F. Supp. 2d at 715; Griffin
Indus., Inc. v. Petrojam, Ltd., 72 F. Supp. 2d 365, 368
(S.D.N.Y. 1999), or to advance "`new facts, issues or arguments
not previously presented to the court.'" Williams,
219 F.R.D. at 83 (quoting Wechsler v. Hunt Health Sys., Ltd., 186 F. Supp. 2d 402, 410 (S.D.N.Y. 2002)). In other
words, "[a] party seeking reconsideration `is not supposed to
treat the court's initial decision as the opening of a dialogue
in which that party may then use such a motion to advance new
theories or adduce new evidence in response to the court's
rulings.'" Wechsler, 186 F. Supp. 2d at 410 (quoting Polsby v.
St. Martin's Press, Inc., No. 97 Civ. 690 (MBM), 2000 WL 98057,
at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 18, 2000)). Thus, Rule 59(e) should be
"narrowly construed and strictly applied so as to avoid
repetitive arguments on issues that have been considered fully by
the Court," Williams, 219 F.R.D. at 83, and "to prevent the
rule from being used as a substitute for appealing a final
judgment." USA Certified Merchants, 273 F. Supp. 2d at 503.
"Reconsideration of a court's previous order is an
`extraordinary remedy to be employed sparingly in the interests
of finality and conservation of scarce judicial resources.'"
Montanile v. Nat'l Broad. Co., 216 F. Supp. 2d 341, 342
(S.D.N.Y. 2002) (quoting In re Health Mgmt. Sys. Inc. Secs.
Litig., 113 F. Supp. 2d 613, 614 (S.D.N.Y. 2000)); see also
USA Certified Merchants, 273 F. Supp. 2d at 503.
Neither Watson, in his pro se filings, nor his attorney
have pointed to new evidence or evidence overlooked in connection
with the decision rendered in the Opinion. Furthermore, neither
has cited any controlling law overlooked by the Court in reaching
the conclusions expressed in the Opinion. Instead, Watson
presents new, and previously unraised, arguments to the Court, asserting
that Watson's habeas petition, originally filed under
28 U.S.C. § 2255, should be considered under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 and relief
granted pursuant to the Suspension Clause of the Constitution.
Alternatively, Watson argues that the time bar imposed by the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA")
and interpreted by this Circuit in Mickens v. United States,
148 F.3d 145 (2d Cir. 1998), and Ross v. Artuz, 150 F.3d 97 (2d
Cir. 1998), violates the Constitution and should not apply to his
habeas petition because "[t]he original drafters read the
Suspension Clause as protecting against Congressional
interference with the power of the federal courts to release
state and federal prisoners on habeas corpus." (Watson's Reply
Memorandum of Law, May 1, 2005, p. 8) (citing The Suspension
Clause in the Ratification Debates, 44 Buffalo L. Rev. 451).
Both of these arguments, never previously heard by the Court, fly
in the face of well-settled Second Circuit law and are unavailing
as grounds for reconsideration.
Since Watson has failed to demonstrate that the Court, in
arriving at its Opinion, overlooked any factual matter or
controlling authority that were put before it in connection with
the underlying motion, reconsideration of the Opinion concerning the
timeliness of Watson's petition is not warranted.
It is so ordered.
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