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Young v. Grace

United States District Court, Third Circuit

October 21, 2013

RICHARD YOUNG, Petitioner
v.
JAMES GRACE, et al., Respondents

MEMORANDUM

MALACHY E. MANNION, District Judge.

Pending before the court is petitioner's motion for relief from judgment or order pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(3) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(6), (Doc. No. 66), seeking to overturn the judgment on his petition for writ of habeas corpus and reopen the case. For the following reasons, the motion will be DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

On July 11, 2003, petitioner Richard Young was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. (Doc. No. 1). Since that time, petitioner has challenged his conviction numerous times. He unsuccessfully appealed his conviction in state court. (Doc. No. 12, at 4). He then filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, (Doc. No. 1), [1] which was denied, not allowing petitioner leave to appeal, on September 2, 2010. (Doc. No. 53). Petitioner next moved pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) to amend that order to allow him to appeal. (Doc. No. 54). That motion was denied. (Doc. No. 60). Petitioner then filed a notice of appeal on January 17, 2011. (Doc. No. 61). The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, (Doc. No. 65), [2] the district court's December 20, 2010 order, (Doc. No. 60), denying plaintiff's Rule 59(e) motion. Plaintiff now brings the instant motion to reopen his habeas corpus proceedings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(3) and 60(b)(6).

Petitioner Richard Young was convicted of the murder of Russel Loomis in 1995 following a jury trial. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed and remanded his conviction, and a retrial was held in 2003. He was again found guilty of the murder, and was sentenced to life in prison. (Doc. No. 1, at ¶ 2). Ronald Hull, an employee of petitioner's, testified at the 2003 trial. Petitioner's instant motion centers on that testimony. He alleges that he was convicted on the theory that Hull was an eyewitness, and that Hull's presentence report ("PSR") contradicts that account by stating that Hull was not at the scene of the murder. He alleges that the respondents perpetrated a fraud on this court by relying on Hull's testimony despite the "new" information in Hull's PSR, and that the fraud created unfairness in the proceedings in his 28 U.S.C. §2254 petition for writ of habeas corpus.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) allows a party to seek relief from a final judgment, and request reopening of the case, "under a limited set of circumstances including fraud, mistake, and newly discovered evidence." Gonzalez v. Crosby , 545 U.S. 524, 528 (2005). Rule 60(b)(3) provides for relief from judgment caused by fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party. In order to sustain the burden of proving fraud and misrepresentation under Rule 60(b)(3), the evidence must be clear and convincing. Meyers v. Smith, 2010 WL 2802255 at *1 (July 13, 2010 D.Del.)(citing Brown v. Pa. R.R. Co. , 282 F.2d 522, 527 (3d Cir. 1960)). If fraud is proved, the judgment may be set aside if the movant shows that the fraud substantially interfered with the movant's ability to present his case. Meyers, 2010 WL 2802255 at *1(citing Tiller v. Baghdady , 294 F.3d 277, 280 (1st Cir. 2002)). A motion under 60(b)(3) cannot serve "as an attempt to relitigate the merits." Fleming v. N.Y. Univ. , 865 F.2d 478, 484 (2d Cir. 1989). Instead, Rule 60(b)(3) is "aimed at judgments which were unfairly obtained, not at those which are factually incorrect." Hesling v. CSX Transp. Inc., 386 F.3d 632, 641 (5th Cir. 2005).[3]

Relief under Rule 60(b)(6) is available only in cases evidencing exceptional circumstances, Construction Drilling, Inc. v. Chusid , 131 Fed.Appx. 366, 371 (3d Cir. 2005), and only when relief is sought based on a reason not enumerated in Rule 60(b)(1)-(5). Gonzalez , 545 U.S., at 528. Rule 60(b) motions may not be used to challenge a petitioner's underlying conviction after his habeas petition has been denied, and may not be used as a substitute for an appeal. U.S. v. Fiorelli , 337 F.3d 282, 288 (3d Cir. 2003).

When a court is confronted with a 60(b) motion after previously denying a habeas petition, the court should first consider whether the 60(b) motion attacks "the manner in which the previous habeas judgment was procured" or the underlying conviction. Pridgen v. Shannon , 380 F.3d 721, 727 (3d Cir. 2004). If the motion seeks to collaterally attack the underlying conviction, it should be treated as a successive habeas petition, and not a Rule 60 motion. Id.

The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) limits a petitioner's ability to bring a successive §2254 habeas motion, and the petitioner must obtain an order from the appropriate court of appeals authorizing the district court to consider the motion. 28 U.S.C. §2244(b)(3)(A). If the record does not reflect that the petitioner received such an order from the circuit court, a district court " must dismiss a second or successive petition, " as they are generally wasteful of judicial resources. Robinson v. Johnson , 313 F.3d 128, 139-40 (3d Cir. 2002)(emphasis in original).

III. DISCUSSION

Petitioner's Rule 60 motion here purports to attack the fairness of the §2254 proceedings. He alleges that because the "Commonwealth version" of his crime is that Hull was an eyewitness, but that Hull's presentence report allegedly indicates that Hull was not at the scene of the crime, that the respondents intentionally perpetrated a"deliberate fraud" upon the court during the §2254 proceedings.

Rule 60(b)(6)

While petitioner claims that his motion is brought pursuant to Rule 60(b)(3) and 60(b)(6), his motion focuses solely on alleged fraud, and does not indicate that there are any exceptional circumstances in this case, nor that relief is sought for a reason not enumerated in Rule 60(b)(1)-(5). Petitioner has thus failed to meet the high bar necessary to ...


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