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United States v. Snyder

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 29, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
RICHARD SNYDER, Defendant/Petitioner.

ORDER (See CA 15-563 & CA 15-564)

ALAN N. BLOCH, District Judge.

AND NOW, this 29th day of July, 2015, upon consideration of Petitioner Richard Snyder's pro se "Motion for Relief from Judgment Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 60(b)(3), Rule 60(b)(4), and Rule (d)(3)" (Document Nos. 45 & 53), filed in the above-captioned matter on December 22, 2014, and Petitioner's pro se "Motion for Certification and/or Notification of Constitutional Challenge to Statute, Pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 5.1" (Document Nos. 46 & 54), filed in the above-captioned matter on December 23, 2014, ("Motions") and upon further consideration of Petitioner's pro se response to the Court's Order to show cause why his Motions should not be dismissed for failure to file in a timely manner in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f), entitled "Motion to Withdraw from Any and All Actions Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255" (Doc. No. 55), filed in the above-captioned matter on June 8, 2015,

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Petitioner's Motions are DISMISSED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that no certificate of appealability shall be issued.

I. Background

On November 9, 2011, an indictment was returned by the Grand Jury charging Petitioner with receipt of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2), and possession of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4)(B). On May 21, 2012, Petitioner pled guilty as to both counts. On September 13, 2012, the Court vacated Petitioner's conviction as to the second count, possession of child pornography, and dismissed said count as a lesser included offense. On that same date, the Court proceeded to sentence Petitioner as to Count One, receipt of child pornography, to a term of imprisonment of ninety-seven months, to be followed by a term of supervised release of five years. Judgment was entered on September 13, 2012, and no appeal was filed.

On December 22, 2014, Petitioner filed a pro se "Motion for Relief from Judgment Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 60(b)(3), Rule 60(b)(4), and Rule (d)(3)" and a pro se "Motion for Certification and/or Notification of Constitutional Challenge to Statute, Pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 5.1"[1] In its Order of March 2, 2015, the Court notified Petitioner that both Motions set forth improper bases for jurisdiction under the rules cited, but that they could be cognizable under a different remedial framework, namely, 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Doc. No. 49). Therefore, the Court advised Petitioner that, in order to be able to consider the Motions, it intended to re-characterize them as motions filed pursuant to Section 2255. In accordance with United States v. Miller, 197 F.3d 644 (3d Cir. 1999), the Court also warned Petitioner that such re-characterization would mean that any subsequent Section 2255 motion would be subject to the restrictions on second or successive motions, so Petitioner was ordered to inform the Court whether he wished to proceed with the Motions as filed (but re-characterized as Section 2255 motions), amend the Motions so that they contain all the Section 2255 claims he believes he has, or withdraw the Motions. The Court alerted Petitioner that if he did not respond to the Court's Order, the Court would proceed to re-characterize the Motions as Section 2255 motions and consider them as such.

Petitioner did not, however, respond to the Court as ordered. Instead, on April 1, 2015, he filed a response which was labeled a "Motion to Withdraw from Any and All Actions Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, " but which was, in substance, simply a notice of appeal. (Doc. No. 50). Because the Court had not yet ruled on Petitioner's Motions, there was no ruling to appeal, and because Petitioner's response did not advise whether he wished to proceed with, amend, or withdraw his Motions, the Court treated Petitioner's filing as non-responsive. Therefore, in its order of April 30, 2015, the Court again explained its intention to re-characterize Petitioner's Motions as motions filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Doc. No. 51). Additionally, the Court ordered Petitioner to show cause why it should not dismiss the Motions as untimely filed pursuant to § 2255(f), [2] and notified Petitioner that failure to respond would result in the Court dismissing the Motions. (Doc. No. 52). Petitioner again failed to respond as ordered by the Court, but filed another document on June 8, 2015, entitled, "Motion to Withdraw from Any and All Actions Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255." (Doc. No. 55). In that document, Petitioner again seeks to avoid having his Motions be considered as motions filed pursuant to Section 2255, and instead attempts to skirt the proper appeals procedure and skip directly to review by the Court of Appeals without this Court ruling on his claims.[3]

II. Discussion

Pro se pleadings are held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972); Holley v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs, 165 F.3d 244, 247 (3d Cir. 1999). However, even a pro se plaintiff must be able to prove a "set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'" Haines, 404 U.S. at 520-21 (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)).

Accordingly, because Petitioner appears to be confused about the procedure that must be followed in order to seek an appeal, the Court has attempted to explain the relevant law in its previous orders. Nevertheless, Petitioner remains under the impression that, in following the procedure necessary to rule on the Motions that Petitioner himself has filed with this Court, the Court is attempting to prevent him from seeking an appeal before the Third Circuit. Petitioner flatly asserts in his most recent filing that the Court is erroneously attempting to require that he file an action under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, "in an attempt to continue to preside over its own wrongdoing, " and that "the court may not preside over appeals from its own judgments." (Doc. No. 55, at 1).

What Petitioner continues to fail to understand is that there is nothing for him to appeal to the Court of Appeals until this Court has ruled on his Motions. In fact, rather than respond as ordered by the Court-at which time the Court would proceed to issuing a ruling-Petitioner has attempted to bypass the appropriate appeals process by declaring that he is taking his claims directly to the Court of Appeals. As previously noted, the Court has sought to remedy this problem by explaining to Petitioner that his Motions, if considered as filed and construed under the rules he cites, simply do not provide a basis for jurisdiction for the Court to vacate Petitioner's criminal conviction or sentence in this case, unless they are re-characterized as motions filed pursuant to Section 2255. The Court further explained that, because the Motions were not filed within the 1-year limitation period provided in that statute, however, Petitioner had to to show cause why that limitation should not apply.

Specifically, 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f) provides that:

A 1-year period of limitation shall apply to a motion under this section. The limitation period ...

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