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Crenhaw v. Superintendent of Five Points Correctional Facility

January 14, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: VICTOR E. Bianchini United States Magistrate Judge


I. Introduction

Pro se petitioner William Crenshaw ("Crenshaw") has filed a motion for reconsideration (Docket No. 42) and a motion to alter the judgment (Docket No. 46) of this Court dismissing his petition for a writ of habeas corpus.*fn1 Crenshaw claims, inter alia, that he is entitled to relief under FED. R. CIV. P. 59 and 60(b) based on newly discovered evidence of his innocence--namely, a confession allegedly signed by one Michael McCoy ("McCoy") stating that he committed the crime for which Crenshaw stands convicted. Because Crenshaw did not provide the Court with a copy of the alleged confession signed by McCoy, the Court directed Crenshaw to supplement his motion with the relevant documents. Per the Court's Order, Crenshaw has submitted a copy of the statement signed by McCoy on which he bases his claim of newly discovered evidence; copies of the C.P.L. § 440.10 motion papers Crenshaw filed in state court in order to exhaust the claim of newly discovered evidence; and copies of Monroe County Court order denying the C.P.L. § 440.10 motion based on the discovered evidence claim.

II. Discussion

A. Rule 59 Motion for Reconsideration

In order to prevail on a motion for reconsideration, the moving party faces stringent requirements. E.g., In re C-TC 9 Ave. P'ship, 182 B.R. 1, 3 (N.D.N.Y. 1995) (cited in Graziano v. Lape, No. 904CV0084LEKGJD, 2005 WL 1176567, *1 (N.D.N.Y. 2005) (denying reconsideration of order denying petitioner's motion to amend his § 2254 habeas corpus petition to add an additional claim). A court's rulings on a motion for reconsideration are "committed to the sound discretion of the district judge and will not be overturned on appeal absent an abuse of discretion." Id. (quoting McCarthy v. Manson, 714 F.2d 234, 237 (2d Cir.1983)). Generally, the courts recognize only three possible grounds upon which motions for reconsideration may be granted: (1) an intervening change in controlling law, (2) the availability of new evidence not previously available, or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice. Id. (citing Wilson v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 815 F. Supp. 585, 586 (N.D.N.Y. 1993) (citing in turn McLaughlin v. New York, 784 F. Supp. 961, 965 (N.D.N.Y. 1992)); accord Graziano v. Lape, 2005 WL 1176567, at *1.

In addition, there is an inflexible filing deadline applicable to a Rule 59 motion for reconsideration. Under Rule 59(b), such a motion must be brought within ten (10) days after entry of the judgment on which reconsideration is sought. FED. R. CIV. P. 59(b). As respondent has argued (Docket No. 43), to the extent that Crenshaw seeks relief under Rule 59, his motion is clearly untimely since it was filed eight (8) months after entry of this Court's judgment dismissing his habeas petition on June 7, 2005. (Docket No. 38). Crenshaw filed his motion for reconsideration on March 31, 2006. (Docket No. 42). Accordingly, Crenshaw's motion for reconsideration (Docket No. 42) must be denied.

B. Rule 60(b) Motion for Relief from Judgment

Rule 60(b) provides a party with the opportunity to seek relief from a prior judgment for the following reasons:

(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b); (3) fraud . . . , misrepresentation, or other misconduct by an opposing party; (4) the judgment is void; (5) the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged . . .; (6) any other reason that justifies relief.

FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b). "A motion under Rule 60(b) must be made within a reasonable time-and for reasons (1), (2), and (3) no more than a year after the entry of the judgment or order or the date of the proceeding." FED. R. CIV. P 60(c). The Second Circuit has held that "[a] district court's decision to grant relief under Rule 60(b) is reviewed for 'abuse of discretion.'" Harris v. United States, 367 F.3d 74, 79 (2d Cir. 2004) (citing Israel v. Carpenter, 120 F.3d 361, 365 (2d Cir.1997)

As noted above, Crenshaw filed his motion for reconsideration on March 31, 2006, eight (8) months after judgment dismissing his habeas petition. He did not file his motion for relief from judgment until December 4, 2006 (Docket No. 46), eight (8) months after respondent opposed his earlier motion for reconsideration on the grounds that it was untimely. Because Crenshaw is proceeding under Rule 60(b)(2), his motion needed to have been filed one (1) year within the date of entry of the judgment against him. Thus, his Rule 60(b)(2) motion had to have been filed by June 7, 2006. However, it was not filed until six (6) months later. That alone provides a basis for dismissing the Rule 60(b) motion.

The Court is mindful that Crenshaw is proceeding pro se. Thus, the Court shall treat Crenshaw's earlier motion for reconsideration, which was filed within one (1) year of the judgment dismissing his habeas petition, as a motion for relief from judgment. Although untimely under Rule 59(b), the first motion was timely under ...

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