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United States v. Martin

January 14, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
SYLVESTER MARTIN, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Kane

MEMORANDUM

Before the Court is Defendant Martin's "motion and other papers pursuant to F.R.Civ.P. Rule 7." (Doc. No. 293.) In the motion, Martin seeks 1) to receive legal documents, transcripts, and papers he has allegedly requested but never received, 2) a "forty-five day extension" to file an amended pleading, and 3) an order to receive all his "Legal Mail Certified in to be Docket in the legal Book." (Doc. No. 293.) For the reasons that follow, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Request for Transcripts

Martin requests a copy of the transcript of the March 17, 2006, pre-trial hearing at which the Court determined that he would represent himself at trial. (Doc. No. 224.) The Court liberally interprets Martin's motion as one seeking transcripts without payment of fees pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 753(f).*fn1 Martin made a similar request prior to the filing of his § 2255 motion. (Doc. No. 283.) At the time of Martin's first request, no motion or appeal was pending, and Martin did not provide the Court either with a complete application to proceed in forma pauperis or with any statement from which it could determine whether the transcripts were needed to adjudicate an issue or appeal. For these reasons, the Court denied the motion. (Doc. No. 285.)

Martin has now filed a second request for transcripts, similarly barren of a statement or argument why such transcripts are necessary or relevant to a pending motion or appeal. Without a statement of the amended claim he seeks to bring with the aid of the transcripts, the Court cannot determine whether the transcript "is needed to decide the issue." For this reason, the request for a transcript of the March 17, 2006 pre-trial hearing (Doc. No. 224) will be held in abeyance pending Martin's submission of his amended § 2255 motion. At that time, if it appears that the amendments are not frivolous and that a transcript is necessary to determine the issue and to make a proper claim, the motion will be granted.

Turning to Martin's claims that he never received the notice of election sent on June 17, 2009, it is clear that his address was incorrectly docketed as USP - Lewisburg rather than USP -Canaan. This error has been corrected on the docket, and the Clerk of Court has regenerated all documents filed after Martin's § 2255 motion. These documents, including a copy of the order granting the United States an extension of time to respond to Martin's § 2255 motion, which Martin specifically requests in the motion pending before the Court, have been sent to Martin at USP-Canaan. The Court notes that Martin does not allege that he wishes to withdraw his motion or to have it interpreted as other than a motion filed pursuant to § 2255. Instead, he requests a forty-five day extension to amend or supplement his motion, which will be taken up in the next section.

Considering now Martin's request to receive a copy of a psychiatric evaluation conducted on or about August 4, 2005, and the court orders pertaining to the evaluation (Doc. Nos. 101, 103, 105, 138, 141), these documents do not appear to be relevant to any issues raised in Martin's § 2255 motion. If they appear to be relevant to Martin's amended § 2255 claims, as with the motion for transcript, the Court will grant Martin's motion for documents at that time.

Accordingly, the Court will reserve ruling on Martin's request for documents and transcripts until receipt of Martin's amended and supplemental pleadings.

II. Motion to Amend or to Supplement Pleadings

Martin moves for an "Injunction Restore Status Quo Ante, to restore a 45 days to file a rule 15 (a) the Amended and Supplemental pleading." (Doc. No. 293 at 1.) The Court interprets this as a motion to amend or supplement his § 2255 motion.

It is clear that "[t]he Federal Rules of Civil Procedure apply to motions to amend habeas corpus motions." United States v. Duffus, 174 F.3d 333, 336 (3d Cir. 1999). Yet, once the one-year statute of limitations imposed on a movant by AEDPA has passed, a new claim may only be raised in an amended motion if it "arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out--or attempted to be set out--in the original pleading." Hodge v. United States, 554 F.3d 372, 377 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting United States v. Thompson, 221 F.3d 430 (3d Cir. 2000)). In other words, any claim added by Martin must be "tied to a common core of operative facts" for it to relate back to the filing date of his initial § 2255 motion. Id. (quoting Mayle v. Felix, 545 U.S. 644, 664 (2005)).

Martin's motion to amend does not specifically state the additional claims or facts he seeks to add to his § 2255 motion, making it difficult for the Court to determine whether the additional claims are part of the common core of operative facts of his initial § 2255 motion. Without the proposed amendments before the Court, the Court cannot definitively determine whether the amendments do arise from the same conduct, transaction, or occurrence as Martin's previously-filed claims.

Accordingly, the Court will stay the disposition of Martin's § 2255 motion for forty-five days so that Martin can file his amended pleading. The Court will reserve ruling on the issue of whether the amendments or supplementation will be accepted until the Court has had an opportunity to review such amendments. If the Court finds that the amendments to his § 2255 motion do not relate back to the initial claims, it will consider at that point whether equitable tolling is appropriate in light of Martin's claim that he did not receive the Miller-Mason notice in a timely ...


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