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Laster v. Superintendent, Five Points Correctional Facility

United States District Court, Second Circuit

January 23, 2014

KEITH L. LASTER, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT, FIVE POINTS CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, Respondent.

DECISION AND ORDER

MICHAEL A. TELESCA, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Pro se Petitioner Keith L. Laster ("Laster" or "Petitioner") was convicted, after a jury trial, of five counts of Rape in the First Degree (N.Y. Penal Law ("Penal Law") § 130.35[1]), three counts of Sexual Abuse in the First Degree (Penal Law § 130.65[1]), and one count of Sodomy in the First Degree (Penal Law § 130.50). He was subsequently sentenced to an aggregate term of 85 ½ to 171 years imprisonment.

By Decision and Order dated December 17, 2012, this Court denied Petitioner's application under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for a writ of habeas corpus (Dkt. No. 19) (hereinafter "the habeas decision"), and judgment was entered on December 18, 2012 (Dkt. No. 20). Laster appealed the Court's habeas decision, and the Second Circuit dismissed the appeal in a Mandate issued May 20, 2013 (Dkt. No. 23).

Petitioner now seeks reconsideration of the Court's habeas decision, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) (Dkt. No. 24).

II. Timeliness

Rule 60(b) allows a party to seek relief from a final judgment for the following reasons: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) fraud; (4) the judgment is void; or (5) the judgment has been satisfied. Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1)-(5). Subsection (6) allows a party to move for "any other reason that justifies relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(6).

Under Rule 60(c), the timeliness of a Rule 60(b) motion depends upon which of 60(b)'s six grounds for relief the movant invokes; that section provides that "[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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(c).

Petitioner filed the instant motion in this Court on November 7, 2013, [1] approximately eleven months after entry of the judgment from which he seeks relief, and thus within the one-year time frame applicable to most 60(b) motions.

Petitioner does not explicitly invoke or cite to the subsection of 60(b) upon which he seeks relief. However, he asserts in the opening paragraph of his motion that "in denying [h]abeas relief, [the] Court overlooked factual information in the records[.]" (Dkt. No. 24 at 1). Specifically, he claims that the Court overlooked the federal constitutional aspect of ground one of his petition. As such, the Court liberally construes his motion under 60(b)(1) and finds that the motion, filed within one year of the date of the judgment, is timely.

II. Lack of Jurisdiction

Although Petitioner's motion is timely, the Court nonethless lacks jurisdiction to address the merits of it.

Under the "law of the case doctrine, " "[w]hen an appellate court has once decided an issue, the trial court, at a later stage of the litigation, is under a duty to follow the appellate court's ruling on that issue." Brown v. City of Syracuse , 673 F.3d 141, 147 (2d Cir. 2012) (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). "This mandate rule prevents re-litigation in the district court not only of matters expressly decided by the appellate court, but also precludes re-litigation of issues impliedly resolved by the appellate court's mandate, '" Id . (quoting Yick Man Mui v. United States , 614 F.3d 50, 53 (2d Cir. 2010)), or "of issues that fall within the scope of the judgment appealed from... but not raised, " ResQNet. com, Inc. v. Lansa, Inc. , 828 F.Supp.2d 688, 696 (S.D.N.Y. 2011) (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted); see also Fine v. Bellefonte Underwriters Ins. Co. , 758 F.2d 50, 52 (2d Cir. 1985) ("Our previous ruling was the law of the case, and the district judge correctly found that it had no jurisdiction to review an appellate court's decision." (citation omitted)).

Here, the issues in Petitioner's motion for reconsideration related to ground one of the habeas petition have already been litigated before the Second Circuit by way of his appeal of this Court's habeas decision. Accordingly, the issues raised in ...


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