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Njos v. Thomas

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

February 1, 2017

SCOTT J. NJOS, Petitioner,
WARDEN THOMAS, Respondent.


          Kosik Judge

         Before the Court for disposition is Respondent's Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 96) of this Court's December 9, 2016 Order (Doc. 95), Petitioner's Motion for Costs (Doc. 98), and Objections (Doc. 101) to this Court's December 9, 2016 Order (Doc. 95).

         I. Background

         We provide a brief procedural background for the parties. On June 27, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) (Doc. 87) on Petitioner's amended habeas petition (Doc. 57). After a brief stay of proceedings (Doc. 92) was lifted (Doc. 94), this Court issued the December 9, 2016 Order (Doc. 95), adopting in part and denying in part, the Magistrate Judges Recommendation. In our Order, we granted Petitioner's writ of habeas corpus to the extent that the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) has not considered, in good faith, the 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b) factors in its exercise of discretion in Petitioner's prison transfers.

         On December 23, 2016, Respondents filed a motion for reconsideration and brief in support (Docs. 96 and 97), asking this Court to reconsider our December 9, 2016 Order. Then, on December 28, 2016, Petitioner simultaneously filed a motion for costs, court fees and calculated interest (Doc. 98), a document styled “objections” (Doc. 101) to the Order, and finally, an appeal (Doc. 102). These matters are now ripe for disposition, and we address each in turn.

         II. Discussion

         a. Respondent's Motion For Reconsideration

         Respondent brings its current motion for reconsideration pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 59(e). Respondent argues that the Court has made an error of fact because the Court's December 9, 2016 Order came after Petitioner was already transferred from Lewisburg SMU (Special Management Units) to the United States Penitentiary Florence Administrative Maximum Facility (USP Florence ADMAX), in Colorado. Therefore, Respondent contends that the issue Petitioner complains of is moot because he is no longer imprisoned at Lewisburg SMU.

         The scope of a motion under Rule 59(e) “is extremely limited.” Blystone v. Horn, 664 F.3d 397, 415 (3d Cir. 2011). Its purpose 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). Accordingly, a party seeking reconsideration must demonstrate at least one of the following grounds prior to the court altering, or amending, a standing judgment: (1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court entered judgment; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice. Max's Seafood Café v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999) (citing North River Ins. Co. v. CIGNA Reinsurance Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir. 1995)). A motion for reconsideration is appropriate in instances where the court has “patently misunderstood a party, or has made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented to the Court by the parties, or has made an error not of reasoning but of apprehension.” Rohrbach v. AT&T Nassau Metals Corp., 902 F.Supp. 523, 527 (M.D. Pa. 1995), vacated in part on other grounds on reconsideration, 915 F.Supp. 712 (M.D. Pa. 1996) (quoting Above the Belt, Inc. v. Mel Bohannan Roofing, Inc., 99 F.R.D. 99, 101 (E.D. Va. 1983)). It may not be used as a means to reargue unsuccessful theories, or argue new facts or issues that were not presented to the court in the context of the matter previously decided. Drysdale v. Woerth, 153 F.Supp.2d 678, 682 (E.D. Pa. 2001). “Because federal courts have a strong interest in the finality of judgments, motions for reconsideration should be granted sparingly.” Continental Cas. Co. v. Diversified Indus., Inc., 884 F.Supp. 937, 943 (E.D. Pa. 1995).

         We do not agree with Respondent's contention that simply because Petitioner has subsequently been transferred to another prison after his filing of his habeas petition, that his petition is moot. When Petitioner filed his petition, he was incarcerated at Lewisbrug SMU, a federal prison within the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Jurisdiction attached on that initial filing for habeas corpus relief, and it was not destroyed by the transfer of Petitioner. See McClure v. Hopper, 577 F.2d 938, 939-40 (5th Cir. 1978); Jones v. Cunningham, 371 U.S. 236, 243-44 (1963); Ex parte Catanzaro, 138 F.2d 100, 101 (3d Cir. 1943) (“[W]e do not believe that passing about of the body of a prisoner from one custodian to another after a writ of habeas corpus has been applied for can defeat the jurisdiction of the Court to grant or refuse the writ on the merits of the applications.”).

         Moreover, the basis of Petitioner's argument is that the BOP failed to consider the 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b) factors, including the sentencing judge's recommendation, in each of his prison transfers. Thus, his petition is not limited merely to Lewisburg SMU. Accordingly, since Respondent's motion does not set forth any intervening change in the controlling law, produce any evidence which was not previously in existence and available to it, or prove that altering or amending the judgment is necessary to correct a clear error of law or fact, we will deny the motion.

         b. Petitioner's Objections

         We now turn to what Petitioner styles “Objections” pursuant to Rule 46 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Doc. 101) to the December 9, 2016 Order (Doc. 95). However, Rule 46 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is not a vehicle for raising post judgment challenges. Rather, the rule codifies the common practice of requiring a party to raise timely objections during trial and other trial-like proceedings to challenge:

an extremely wide range of judicial rulings on evidence, including the formulation of the issues for trial, the content of various arguments of counsel for either side, the submission of the case to the jury, the interrogation and qualification of prospective jurors, and all of ...

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