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Rudy Mendoza v. Erie County District Attorney's Office; Erie County Court of

October 17, 2012

RUDY MENDOZA, PETITIONER,
v.
ERIE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE; ERIE COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS; ERIE COUNTY EXECUTIVE/ COUNCIL; ERIE COUNTY REGIONAL CONTRACT JAIL ALBION; INMATE GENERAL WELFARE FUND; AND, PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: District Judge Sean J. McLaughlin

Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter

MEMORANDUM ORDER

SEAN J. McLAUGHLIN, District Judge.

Before the Court is Petitioner Rudy Mendoza's motion for reconsideration. [ECF No. 36]. Because he has filed it within 28 days of this Court's entry of judgment, it is properly construed as a motion to alter or amend the judgment pursuant to Federal Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons that follow, the motion is denied.

I.

A. Relevant Background

Petitioner is a state prisoner currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution Albion. He is serving a judgment of sentence of 10-20 years' imprisonment, which was imposed upon him by the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County at Criminal Docket No. 5026 of 2005 on November 8, 2006. [See State Resp. Ex. 1, ECF No. 28-1 at 9-16, 20]. In his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, he claimed that his sentence is excessive because it exceeds the recommended range set forth by Pennsylvania's Sentencing Guidelines. [ECF No. 6 at 2-3]. As a result, he claimed, his sentence "lacked finality" and did not authorize his detention. He further claimed that when the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (the "DOC") took custody of him after his sentencing, it was aware that it did not have the authority to detain him. The DOC therefore contracted with "the Erie County Court of Common Pleas, its Executive/Council, its administrative contract jail Albion Warden, formerly and now Michael W. Harlow, and Records Supervisor Cheryl Gill to 'alter' cause of detainment record for express purpose to 'hold' [him] at Albion[.]" [ECF No. 6 at 3]. Petitioner also claimed that when he was temporarily transferred to a prison in Muskegon County, Michigan, for service of his Pennsylvania sentence from February 17, 2010, through May 25, 2011,*fn1 his underlying sentence was "cancelled/terminated." [ECF No. 6 at 3-5]. As relief, Petitioner sought an order from this Court directing that he be released from custody and that he receive "compensatory relief from each defendant" pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. [ECF No. 6 at 1, 6].

On September 5, 2012, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation [ECF No. 32] in which she recommended that the petition be summarily dismissed because Petitioner was not raising a claim that is cognizable in habeas and because money damages are not available in habeas. In his Objections to the R&R [ECF No. 34], which Petitioner filed on September 18, 2012, he insisted that there was no valid judgment of sentence in his case.

On October 4, 2012, after de novo review of the documents in this case, together with the R&R and Petitioner's Objections, the Court issued a Memorandum Order [ECF No. 35] in which we adopted the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation as the opinion of the Court, as supplemented therein, and closed this case. The Court held that the record is clear that Petitioner is in DOC custody pursuant to the valid judgment of sentence that was imposed by the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County on November 8, 2006. [See State Resp. Exs. 1-3, ECF No. 28-1 at 9-16, 20, 30-40].

On October 10, 2012, Petitioner filed the pending motion [ECF No. 36], in which he requests that his Court reconsider its judgment.

II.

The standard for obtaining relief under Rule 59(e) is difficult for a party to meet. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has explained:

The scope of a motion for reconsideration, we have held, is extremely limited. Such motions are not to be used as an opportunity to relitigate the case; rather, they may be used only to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence. Howard Hess Dental Labs., Inc. v. Dentsply Int'l Inc., 602 F.3d 237, 251 (3d Cir. 2010). "Accordingly, a judgment may be altered or amended [only] if the party seeking reconsideration shows at least one of the following grounds: (1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court [denied the petition for ...


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