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Martinez v. Capra

United States District Court, W.D. New York

February 28, 2017

ERIC X. MARTINEZ, Petitioner,
MICHAEL CAPRA, Superintendent, Sing Sing Correctional Facility, Respondent.


          HONORABLE MICHAEL A. TELESCA United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         Proceeding pro se Eric X. Martinez (“Petitioner”) filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. On May 9, 2016, the Court issued a Decision and Order (Dkt #28) denying the petition and declining to issue a certificate of appealability. Judgment in Respondent's favor was entered on May 10, 2016 (Dkt #30). Petitioner sent a letter to the Court dated January 21, 2017, which the Court construed as a Motion for Leave to appeal and/or Motion for Reconsideration (Dkt #33) (“the Reconsideration Motion”) of the Decision and Order denying his habeas petition. On February 13, 2017, Respondent filed a Memorandum of Law in Opposition (Dkt #34) to Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration. Petitioner sent a letter dated February 5, 2017, to the Court requesting an attorney and, should the Court appoint an attorney, an extension of time to file a reply to Respondent's opposition brief. The Court has construed this as a Motion for Appointment of Counsel and a Conditional Request for Extension of Time to File Reply (Dkt #36). For the reasons discussed below, all of Petitioner's motions are denied with prejudice.

         II. Discussion

         A. Reconsideration

         Motions for reconsideration are governed by Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rule 59(e)”) and are frequently brought in the habeas context. See, e.g., Graziano v. Lape, No. 904CV0084LEKGJD, 2005 WL 1176567, at *1 (N.D.N.Y. May 4, 2005) (Section 2254 petitioner filed motion for reconsideration based on new evidence) (citation omitted). However, the most recent version of Rule 59(e), [1] which was in effect at the time of Petitioner's judgment, contains a 28-day time-limit on filing motions for reconsideration.[2] The deadline under Rule 59(e) is “inflexible[.]” Crenshaw v. Superintendent of Five Points Corr. Fac., 595 F.Supp.2d 224, 227 (W.D.N.Y. 2009). Therefore, Petitioner's motion cannot be brought under the authority of Rule 59(e) because it is untimely under that rule. See id.

         In similar circumstances, courts have treated untimely Rule 59(e) motions as motions to vacate the judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rule 60(b)”). See, e.g., DiGirolamo v. United States, 279 F. App'x 37, 39 (2d Cir. 2008) (unpublished opn.) (Section 2255 petitioner's filing “cannot be construed as a Rule 59(e) motion because it was not filed within ten days of the district court's original opinion, but should be treated rather as a motion for relief from a judgment or order under Rule 60(b)(6).”) (citing Feldberg v. Quechee Lakes Corp., 463 F.3d 195, 198 (2d Cir. 2006) (construing the defective Rule 59(e) motion as a Rule 60(b) motion)).

         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)(1)-(6). “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)(1). In addition to filing in a reasonably timely manner, the moving party must demonstrate “extraordinary circumstances” or “extreme hardship.” PRC Harris, Inc. v. Boeing Co., 700 F.2d 894, 897 (2d Cir. 1983).

         Petitioner has not attempted to demonstrate “extraordinary circumstances” or “extreme hardship.” Indeed, he has not asserted any facts or legal arguments to justify vacating the judgment against him, but instead simply asks if he can “bring [his case] again to [this] court for new federal arguments as a fact and the grounds of a federal case arguments in a writ habeas corpus motion.” Petitioner has not met the strict requirements for granting relief under Rule 60(b), and accordingly his motion is denied. See, e.g., Rodriguez v. Mitchell, 252 F.3d 191, 201 (2d Cir. 2001) (Section 2254 petitioner filed Rule 60(b) motion three and one-half years from the date judgment was entered; court found that was not a “reasonable time” and, even if motion were timely filed, “it would still fail, because ‘[r]elief under Rule 60(b)(6) is appropriate only in cases presenting extraordinary circumstances, ' and [the petitioner] has failed to allege any such circumstances”) (quotation omitted).

         B. Late Leave to Appeal

         The Court has construed Petitioner's first post-judgment motion as also including a request for permission to file a late notice of appeal, as Petitioner states, “I really would like to appeal my case to a higher court can you please allow me to appealed . . . .”

         Very strict timelines circumscribe the district court's ability to grant extensions of time to file notices of appeal. See Endicott Johnson Corp. v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co.,116 F.3d 53, 56 (2d Cir. 1997). In a civil case such as this one, “the notice of appeal . . . must be filed with the district clerk within 30 days after entry of the judgment or order appealed from.” Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(1)(A). The requirements of Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure (“F.R.A.P.”) 4(a) are ...

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