The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Carlson
This is a pro se habeas petition brought by a state prisoner, Gary Miller, challenging his state guilty plea conviction. (Doc. 1) On January 6, 2011, this case was referred to the undersigned for pre-trial management. (Doc. 27.) Upon reviewing this case we noted that, along with his petition, Miller had filed a motion to stay state post-conviction relief act proceedings pending the completion of this federal case. (Doc. 21.) After reviewing this motion, on January 10, 2011, we entered a memorandum order which denied this request for a stay of state PCRA proceedings, but directed the parties to provide the Court with a status update regarding those state proceedings. (Doc. 29.)
The Petitioner, Gary Miller, has now filed a motion and brief, requesting that we reconsider this order denying his request to stay these state proceedings. (Doc.34.) For the reasons set forth below, we will deny this request.
A. Motions to Reconsider--the Legal Standard
The legal standards that govern motions to reconsider are both clear, and clearly compelling. It is well-settled that, "[t]he purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985). Therefore, typically such a motion should only be granted in three, narrowly defined circumstances, where there is either : "(1) [an] intervening change in controlling law,(2) availability of new evidence not previously available, or (3) need to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice". Dodge v. Susquehanna Univ., 796 F.Supp. 829, 830 (M.D. Pa. 1992 ). Thus, it is clear that a party's mere disagreement with the court does not translate into the type of clear error of law which justifies reconsideration of a ruling. Dodge, 796 F.Supp. at 830. Furthermore, "[b]ecause federal courts have a strong interest in the finality of judgments, motions for reconsideration should be granted sparingly." Continental Casualty Co. v. Diversified Indus., Inc., 884 F.Supp. 937, 943 (E.D. Pa. 1995). Moreover, it is evident that a motion for reconsideration is not a tool to re-litigate and reargue issues which have already been considered and disposed of by the court. Dodge, 796 F.Supp. at 830. Rather, such a motion is appropriate only where the court misunderstood a party or where there has been a significant change in law or facts since the court originally ruled on that issue. See Above the Belt, Inc. v. Mel Bohannon Roofing, Inc., 99 F.R.D. 99, 101 (E.D. Va. 1983).
B. We Should Not Re-Consider Our Discretionary Denial of Miller's Request to Stay State PCRA Proceedings
Judged against these exacting standards, we find that Miller has not provided the type of compelling grounds which would justify reconsideration of our prior ruling that the state PCRA proceedings, which may afford Miller the precise relief which he seeks in this federal habeas corpus proceeding, should not be stayed. Quite the contrary, we remain convinced that the legal and equitable considerations that guide us in this field all continue to caution in favor of permitting Miller to litigate these claims in the state courts, which stand ready to hear them.
At the outset, we note that this conclusion is compelled by the law governing federal habeas corpus review of state criminal convictions. Under the law, state prisoners like Miller who seek to invoke the power of this Court to issue a writ of habeas corpus must satisfy the standards prescribed by 28 U.S.C. § 2254, which provides in part as follows (a) The Supreme Court, a Justice thereof, a circuit judge, or a district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.
(b)(1) An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted unless it appears that--(A) the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State;
(2) An application for a writ of habeas corpus may be denied on the merits, notwithstanding the failure of the applicant to exhaust the remedies available in the courts of the State. 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (a) and (b).
As this statutory text implies, Miller must meet exacting substantive and procedural benchmarks in order to obtain habeas corpus relief. Among the procedural prerequisites to a federal habeas corpus petition by a state prisoner is a requirement that the Petitioner " has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State" before seeking relief in federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b). Indeed, instances where a state prisoner has failed to exhaust the legal remedies available to him in the state courts, ...