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Wright v. Poole

United States District Court, S.D. New York

December 17, 2014

BRUCE WRIGHT, Petitioner,
v.
THOMAS POOLE, Superintendent, Five Points Correctional Facility, Respondent

Decided December 12, 2014.

Page 281

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 282

Bruce Wright, Petitioner, Pro se, Otisville, NC.

Page 283

OPINION AND ORDER

KENNETH M. KARAS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Pro se Petitioner Bruce Wright (" Petitioner" ), moves under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60 for the Court to vacate its prior Order, which adopted Magistrate Judge Mark D. Fox's Report and Recommendation (" R& R" ) and dismissed Petitioner's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (the " Petition" ). ( See Order Adopting R& R (" Order" ) (Dkt. No. 37).) For the reasons stated herein, the Court denies Petitioner's Motion.

I. Background

A. Factual Background

Although the Court assumes the Parties' general familiarity with the factual and procedural background of this case as set forth in the Court's prior Order and in the R& R, the Court will briefly summarize the facts most salient to the instant Rule 60 Motion.

On July 5, 1997, Petitioner was arrested for a drug charge, as well as for a violation of a city ordinance. (Aff. in Supp. of Mot. for Discovery at unnumbered 2 (Dkt. No. 49); Mot. for Discovery Ex. 1, at unnumbered 21-22 (Dkt. No. 49).)[1] While incarcerated on those charges, he was indicted by grand jury on an unrelated second degree burglary charge (Indictment number 103/97). (R& R 17 & n.9.) The drug charges were eventually dropped. ( Id. at 17 n.9.)

On December 9, 1997, a jury in Dutchess County, New York convicted Petitioner of second degree burglary. On September 29, 1998, the trial judge sentenced Petitioner to twenty years to life in prison as a Persistent Violent Felony Offender. ( See Resp.'s Ex. 42, at 3.) The Appellate Division affirmed Petitioner's conviction, see People v. Wright, 282 A.D.2d 768, 724 N.Y.S.2d 351 (App.Div. 2001), and the Court of Appeals denied Petitioner's request for leave to appeal, see People v. Wright, 96 N.Y.2d 943, 759 N.E.2d 382, 733 N.Y.S.2d 383 (N.Y. 2001).

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B. Procedural Background

Since his conviction, Petitioner has filed a number of appeals and petitions in state and federal court. The Court will briefly discuss the proceedings relevant to the instant Rule 60 Motion. On October 30, 2002, Petitioner filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Dkt. No. 1.) The case was referred to Magistrate Judge Fox on October 30, 2002, ( see Dkt. (minute entry for Oct. 30, 2002)), and Magistrate Judge Fox issued an R& R on November 7, 2007, recommending that the Court deny Petitioner's Petition in its entirety, ( see Dkt. No. 21).[2] Petitioner filed timely objections to the R& R. ( See Dkt. No. 23.) On March 4, 2010, Petitioner submitted a Motion for Discovery under Rule 6(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts. ( See Notice of Mot. [S]eeking Leave for Discovery Pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C. 2254: Rule 6(a) (" Mot. for Discovery" ) (Dkt. No. 49).) On September 28, 2012, the Court issued an Order adopting the R& R in its entirety, mistakenly having omitted to rule on Petitioner's Discovery Motion. ( See Order.) Thereafter, Petitioner appealed the Court's Order to the Second Circuit, and, on July 8, 2013, the Second Circuit dismissed the appeal without opinion, holding that Petitioner had not made a " substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right." ( See Mandate of U.S.C.A. (Dkt. No. 58) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)).) Petitioner then filed the Motion at issue here, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 60(b) and 60(d), seeking relief from the Court's Order and asking the Court to grant his habeas petition on the ground that it was improper for the Court to have ruled on his Petition without first having decided the Discovery Motion. ( See Notice of Mot. (" Rule 60 Mot." ) (Dkt. No. 59).)

Of Petitioner's many claims for relief in his original Petition, only a few are relevant here, and they will be briefly summarized by the Court. In Ground Four of his Petition, Petitioner asserted a number of problems with the Indictment, specifically that " (1) he was not properly informed of the charges against him because he was arrested on an unrelated charge and only later indicted for the burglary; (2) he was deprived of his right to appear before the grand jury; (3) a felony complaint should have been filed; and (4) the court did not have jurisdiction to proceed." (Order 13-14.) Also relevant here are Points One, Three, and Eight of his state court Motion pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law § 440.10 (" Section 440.10 Motion" ), which the Court deemed included in his Petition, ( id. at 6), all of which " stem from Petitioner's erroneous belief that two separate indictments were brought against him," ( id. at 20). In Point One, Petitioner " claimed that the trial court never obtained legal jurisdiction to try the case because the case was never legally commenced" by felony complaint. (R& R 17; see also Resp.'s Ex. 39 (Mem. of Law in Supp. of Section 440.10 Motion), at i, 8.)[3]

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In Point Three, Petitioner argued that he was not properly arraigned. ( See R& R 17; Mem. of Law in Supp. of Section 440.10 Motion at i.) Finally, in Point Eight, Petitioner argued that the " the court was procedurally and jurisdictionally barred from trying and convicting him on a jurisdictionally defective indictment." (R& R 17; Mem. of Law in Supp. of Section 440.10 Motion at i, 52.) In his Discovery Motion, Petitioner further outlined these claims and requested discovery that he claimed would support his contentions. ( See generally Mot. for Discovery.) Petitioner sought " a copy of [the] . . . second indictment for a drug offense charge, a copy of said felony complaint for [the] burglary charge, all grand jury reports, and minutes pertaining to the above referenced drug and burglary offenses," as well as " all relevant documentation and information of the proceedings in the time from 7-5-97, [the] date of [P]etitioner's arrest and 8-27-97, the date of . . . [Petitioner's] arraignment either upon indictment # 103/97 [or] 104/97." (Mot. for Discovery at unnumbered 5.)

Finally, in his pending Rule 60 Motion, Petitioner claims that " his due process rights were violated when the [Court] . . . denied . . . Petitioner the right to be heard[] [a]nd ma[de] a determination on the Petition on an incomplete and limited record," by deciding the case without having ruled on and granted the Discovery Motion. (Rule 60 Mot. at unnumbered 2).)

II. Discussion

A. Standard of Review

Petitioner moves for relief under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 60(b) and 60(d). Rule 60 concerns relief from a final judgment, order or proceeding, and the ...


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