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Rowe v. Giroux

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 1, 2017

GREGORY ALAN ROWE, Petitioner,
v.
SUPT. NANCY GIROUX, et al., Respondents.

          MEHALCHICK MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM

          A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge

         Presently before the Court is Petitioner Gregory Alan Rowe‘s Motion for Reconsideration of the Court's decision to dismiss his § 2254 habeas petition as untimely. (Doc. 50.) For the reasons stated below, the Motion will be denied.

         I. Background

         As the relevant facts are set forth in the August 23, 2016 Memorandum (Doc. 48), they will not be repeated at length herein.

         Petitioner Gregory Alan Rowe was convicted before the Court of Common Pleas of Pike County of two counts of first degree murder, two counts of third degree murder, endangering the welfare of a child, and possession of an instrument of crime. Commonwealth v. Rowe, No. CP-52-CR-0000181-2004 (Pike County C.C.P.).[1] On February 8, 2006, Rowe was sentenced to two (2) consecutive life terms followed by eighteen (18) months to ten (10) years imprisonment. Rowe's conviction became final on March 27, 2008, ninety (90) days after the date on which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Rowe's petition for allowance of appeal. Thus, absent any applicable tolling period, Rowe had until March 27, 2009 to timely file a federal habeas petition. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A).

         Rowe filed his first petition for collateral relief under the Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”) in the Pike County Court of Common Pleas on December 15, 2008, thereby tolling the AEDPA's one-year statute of limitations. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). Counsel was appointed to represent Rowe with respect to his PCRA petition. The Court of Common Pleas denied Rowe's petition on December 23, 2009. Rowe appealed this decision up to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which denied his petition for allowance of appeal on July 25, 2011. The AEDPA's statute of limitations again began to run from this date.[2]

         Rowe subsequently filed a motion for DNA testing pursuant to 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 9543.1, and a second PCRA petition with the Court of Common Pleas on September 6, 2011. However, despite Rowe's instructions to docket the two filings separately, the Court of Common Pleas construed Rowe's filings as only one motion for post-conviction DNA testing. Rowe's motion for DNA testing was denied on January 9, 2012 and, ultimately, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Rowe's petition for allowance of appeal with respect to that motion on December 3, 2013.

         Rowe filed his petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on September 24, 2013. After the Magistrate Judge issued an initial Report and Recommendation on August 10, 2015, this Court found that part of Rowe's second post-conviction filings with the Court of Common Pleas should have been construed as a second PCRA petition, rather than only a motion for DNA testing. (See Doc. 24.) The Court rejected the Magistrate Judge's recommendation to deny Rowe's habeas petition as untimely, granted Rowe's motion for expansion of the record, and recommitted the matter to the Magistrate Judge for further proceedings. (Doc. 25.)

         On June 1, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued another Report and Recommendation, which recommended the Court dismiss with prejudice Rowe's habeas petition as time-barred. (See Doc. 42.) The Report and Recommendation noted that this was the first occasion for both the Magistrate Judge and this Court to consider the issue of timeliness with the benefit of full briefing, a complete record of the state court proceedings, and in light of the Court's decision to construe Rowe's second post-conviction filing as a second PCRA petition. (See Id. at 6 n.4.) The Court adopted the Report and Recommendation and dismissed with prejudice Rowe's habeas petition. (Doc. 49.) The Court agreed with the Magistrate Judge's findings that Rowe's second PCRA petition was not “properly filed” because it was not filed within one year from the date on which his conviction became final. (See Doc. 48, at 8-9.) The Court further noted that “none of the exceptions to the PCRA's statute of limitations . . . apply here, nor did Rowe raise any of these exceptions on collateral review or in support of the instant habeas petition.” (Id. at 9 n.6.)

         On September 6, 2016, Rowe filed the instant Motion for Reconsideration. (Doc. 50.) In support of his Motion, Rowe argues that there is a need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent a manifest injustice.

         II. Legal Standard

         The scope of a motion for reconsideration is extremely limited. Blystone v. Horn, 664 F.3d 397, 415 (3d Cir. 2011). A judgment may be altered or amended 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 previously; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice. Max's Seafood Café ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999).

         A motion for reconsideration is not intended to give an unhappy litigant an additional chance to rehash or reargue issues which have already been considered and disposed of by the Court. See Ogden v. Keystone Residence, 226 F.Supp.2d 588, 606 (M.D. Pa. 2002). A losing party may not use a motion for reconsideration to raise new arguments that it could have raised previously, but did not. See McDowell Oil Serv., Inc. v. Interstate Fire & Cas. Co., 817 F.Supp. 538, 541 (M.D. Pa. 1993). Indeed, a motion for reconsideration is not a substitute for appeal nor a vehicle whereby a party may present arguments inexplicably omitted in prior proceedings. Karr v. Castle, 768 F.Supp. 1087, 1093 (D. Del. 1991), aff'd sub nom.22 F.3d 303 (3d Cir. 1994), cert. denied sub nom., 513 U.S. 1084 (1995). “A party seeking reconsideration must show more than a disagreement with the Court's decision, and ‘recapitulation of the cases and arguments considered by the court before ...


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