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United States v. Wilder

April 30, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JASON WILDER



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Donetta W. Ambrose Chief Judge, U.S. District Court

OPINION AND ORDER OF COURT

SYNOPSIS

In this action, on September 16, 2005, a jury found Defendant guilty of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana. He was sentenced by this Court on April 7, 2006. Following appeal, Defendant filed a Motion for habeas relief with this Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Following this Court's denial of the Motion by Opinion and Order dated March 20, 2009 ("March 20 Order), Defendant filed a Motion for Reconsideration.

For the following reasons, the Motion for Reconsideration will be denied.

OPINION

I. Notice of Appeal

At the outset, I must assess the result of recent docket activity on my continuing authority over this matter. The Clerk of Courts for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has forwarded to our Clerk of Courts a document prepared by Defendant and entitled, "Application for a Certificate of Appealability," regarding my March 20 Order. The document was forwarded with instructions that it be deemed a Notice of Appeal. On April 30, 2009, the Notice of Appeal was docketed. Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration of the March 20 Order, however, filed on April 3, 2009, remains pending before this Court.

It is appropriate that I consider that Motion, despite the Notice of Appeal. The filing of a Notice of Appeal does not divest a district Court of jurisdiction to entertain a Motion for Reconsideration in this context. See Ginsburg. v. Birenbaum, No. 06-01217, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39387, at **4-6 (W.D. Pa. May 14, 2008). Moreover, our Court of Appeals has noted as follows:

As a general rule, the timely filing of a notice of appeal is an event of jurisdictional significance, immediately conferring jurisdiction on a Court of Appeals and divesting a district court of its control over those aspects of the case involved in the appeal. ..[the rule] "has the salutary purpose of preventing the confusion and inefficiency which would of necessity result were two courts to be considering the same issue or issues simultaneously."..."[as] a prudential doctrine, the rule should not be applied when to do so would defeat its purpose of achieving judicial economy."

United States v. Ford, 215 Fed. Appx. 167, 168 (3d Cir. 2007).

In the present case, holding the Motion for Reconsideration in abeyance would frustrate purposes of judicial economy, as this Court is intimately familiar with the pre- and post-sentencing record in this matter, has already ruled on matters intimately intertwined with the underlying substance of Defendant's Motion, and the Notice of Appeal has only very recently been filed. Under the relatively unique circumstances of these proceedings, ruling on Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration clarifies the issues at stake, rather than causing confusion or inefficiency.*fn1 This particular case strongly suggests that further explication by this Court will serve the ends of both justice and efficiency.

I. Applicable Standards

Having determined that I may exercise jurisdiction over this matter, I must consider whether Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration should be construed as a second or successive 2255 Motion, in which case it would be barred from consideration. "[A] majority of the courts of appeals that have ruled on the issue have held that a...motion [for reconsideration], challenging a prior judgment denying habeas relief should, in most cases, be treated as the functional equivalent of a second or successive habeas petition requiring, under AEDPA, authorization from a court of appeals." Pridgen v. Shannon, 380 F.3d 721, 724 (3d Cir. Pa. 2004).

However, "in those instances in which the factual predicate of a petitioner's Rule 60(b) motion attacks the manner in which the earlier habeas judgment was procured and not the underlying conviction, the Rule 60(b) motion may be adjudicated on the merits." Id. at 727. The present situation may be deemed such an instance, as Defendant attacks the factual predicate of the May 20 Order, as well as the mechanics of his habeas process -- i.e., lack of service of documents by the Government. Cf., e.g., Davis v. Kyler, No. 08-1757, 2008 U.S. ...


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