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Paddy v. Beard

United States District Court, Third Circuit

September 19, 2013



NORMA L. SHAPIRO, District Judge.

Petitioner Donyell Paddy ("Paddy"), an inmate serving a life sentence at the State Correctional Institution in Waynesburgh, Pennsylvania, filed a motion to alter or amend this court's November 20, 2012 Memorandum and Order. That order approved and adopted Magistrate Judge Thomas J. Reuter's Report and Recommendation ("R&R"), overruled Paddy's timely filed objections, and denied the petition for writ of habeas corpus. For the reasons stated below, the motion to alter or amend the judgment will be denied on all claims except those not ruled on in its November 20 order. Those claims have been considered and will be denied for the reasons below.


A state court jury convicted Paddy of first degree murder and possession of an instrument of crime. At trial, testimony established that in July 1989, petitioner shot and killed Wilbur Thomas after Stephen Blount, a drug dealer, ordered petitioner to kill the decedent for interfering with Blount's drug business. Petitioner drove a rust-colored Volvo to the scene, exited the car, shot and killed Thomas, re-entered the Volvo and fled the scene. Paddy was sentenced to life imprisonment. Commonwealth v. Paddy , No. 1348 Phila. 1995, slip op. at 2 (Pa.Super. Ct. Oct. 28, 1996). Paddy, represented by new counsel, filed a direct appeal to the Superior Court. The Superior Court affirmed Paddy's conviction and sentence. Paddy , No. 1348 Phila. 1995. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Paddy's application for discretionary review. Commonwealth v. Paddy , 692 A.2d 564 (Pa. 1997).

On September 10, 1997, Paddy filed a pro se petition for relief under the Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA"), 42 Pa. C.S. ยงยง 9541, et seq. The PCRA court appointed new counsel, but appointed counsel was permitted to withdraw after Paddy requested leave to proceed pro se . The court appointed another attorney as backup counsel (Paddy's fourth lawyer), but this lawyer withdrew because of a conflict of interest. The court appointed another lawyer as backup counsel (Paddy's fifth lawyer). After Paddy stated in a colloquy that he no longer wished to represent himself, appointed counsel filed an amended PCRA petition. The court dismissed the petition. Commonwealth v. Paddy , No. 0826, slip op. (C.P. Phila. Mar. 21, 2002).

Paddy, still represented by his fifth lawyer, appealed denial of his PCRA petition. The Superior Court affirmed the dismissal of Paddy's PCRA petition. Commonwealth v. Paddy , No. 2533 EDA 2001 (Pa.Super. Ct. Dec. 10, 2002). Paddy then filed a second, pro se PCRA petition and a supplemental PCRA petition. He also filed a petition in this court for a writ of habeas corpus. This court issued an order to hold federal proceedings in abeyance pending disposition of Paddy's second PCRA petition. The action was placed in administrative suspense.

On June 8, 2004, Paddy, represented by a new set of attorneys, filed an amended PCRA petition in state court. The PCRA court dismissed the petition after sending a notice of intent to dismiss because the petition was untimely. The Superior Court affirmed the dismissal. Commonwealth v. Paddy , No. 932 EDA 2005, slip op. at 5 (Pa.Super. Ct. Jan. 22, 2007). Paddy did not seek review in the Supreme Court. This court then removed his action from suspense and referred the case to Magistrate Judge Reuter. In his federal habeas petition, Paddy raised over twenty grounds for relief. On October 28, 2008 Judge Reuter filed a Report and Recommendation that the petition be denied without an evidentiary hearing. Paddy then filed timely objections to the R&R. On November 20, 2012 this court approved and adopted the R&R and denied the petition.

Paddy filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment on December 18, 2012. The District Attorney's Office, in a letter dated January 3, 2013, declining to file a response brief, called the motion "a lengthy attempt to relitigate claims and issues decided adversely to him rather than a serious attempt to demonstrate that this Court committed manifest errors of law or fact, or that it overlooked new controlling legal authority." Letter from Joshua S. Goldwert, Assistant Dist. Attorney, to the Honorable Norma L. Shapiro (Jan. 3, 2012).


Paddy titled his motion a "Motion Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) to Alter or Amend the Judgement." Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) provides a movant with the ability to request that the court alter or amend a judgment, also referred to as a motion for reconsideration. Paddy requests that the court reconsider several rulings on the merits from the November 20, 2012 Memorandum and Order and denial of a certificate of appealability.

A motion for reconsideration under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) may be granted if the petitioner shows: (1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not made available when the court rendered its decision; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice. Howard Hess Dental Labs, Inc. v. Dentsply Int'l Inc. , 602 F.3d 237, 251 (3d Cir. 2010). Paddy asserts that his motion is "based on new law" and is intended "to correct manifest errors of both law and fact." A motion for reconsideration is subject to the sound discretion of the court. Cureton v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n , 252 F.3d 267, 272 (3d Cir. 2001). Motions for reconsideration are rarely granted because "courts have a strong interest in the finality of judgments." Cont'l Cas. Co. v. Diversified Indus., Inc. , 884 F.Supp. 937, 943 (E.D. Pa. 1995).

In his motion to alter or amend the judgment, Paddy asks this court to reconsider rulings and/or a certificate of appealability on:

1) Whether counsel was ineffective for failing to view allegedly exculpatory evidence in the prosecutor's file and for failing to call Mr. Beauford as a witness;
2) Whether the Commonwealth violated Brady by allegedly suppressing photographs showing the inoperability of the Volvo;
3) Whether Paddy's claim that the Commonwealth suppressed exculpatory evidence concerning the Volvo's condition upon arrival at the impound lot was properly presented to the state court;
4) Whether the Commonwealth suppressed evidence regarding the criminal activities of and benefits ...

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