United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
April 13, 1982, a jury found Ernest Adkins
(“Petitioner”) guilty of second-degree murder,
robbery, conspiracy, and possession of an instrument of
crime. (Doc. No. 20 at 2.) At trial, he was represented by
Vincent Ziccardi, Esquire. (Doc. No. 1 at 3.) Petitioner
received a mandatory life sentence for committing these
offenses. (Doc. No. 20 at 2.) He appealed his conviction and
sentence and was represented by Francis E. Gleeson, Esquire
(“appellate counsel”). (Doc. No. 1 at 3.) On
March 1, 1985, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed
the judgment of sentence. (Doc. No. 20 at 2.) Petitioner did
not seek allocatur from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
January 6, 1988, Petitioner attempted to collaterally attack
his sentence pursuant to Pennsylvania's Post-Conviction
Relief Act (“PCRA”), 42 Pa. Con. Stat. Ann.
§§ 9541-46, by filing a pro se petition for relief.
(Id.) On February 4, 1998, Patricia M. Dugan,
Esquire (“PCRA counsel”) was appointed to
represent Petitioner. (Doc. No. 1 at 3.) She later filed an
Amended PCRA Petition on his behalf. (Id.) Following
the denial of his PCRA petition on October 26, 1993,
Petitioner retained Paul J. Hetznecker, Esquire, to represent
him in his appeal. (Id.) On November 1, 1994, the
Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the dismissal of the
PCRA petition. (Doc. No. 20 at 2.) On April 7, 1995, the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Petitioner's request
for allocator. Id.
than eighteen years later, on June 19, 2013, Petitioner filed
in this Court a pro se Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus
pursuant to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
(“AEDPA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc. No. 1.)
On September 3, 2013, Petitioner filed an amended § 2254
petition, after the Court ordered him to use the proper form.
(Doc. No. 3.)
January 6, 2014, the petition was referred to the Honorable
Magistrate Judge Carol Sandra Moore Wells for a Report and
Recommendation (“R&R”). (Doc. No. 6.) On May
14, 2014, Judge Wells issued an R&R, recommending that
Petitioner's claims for relief be denied and that a
certificate of appealability not be issued. (Doc. No. 20.) At
this time, Judge Wells also denied Petitioner's
outstanding Motion for Abeyance, which sought to stay his
federal habeas proceeding pending the outcome of decisions
which may affect Miller's retroactivity.
(See Doc. Nos. 9, 19 citing Miller v.
Alabama, 132 S.Ct. 2455 (2012).) This Court denied
Petitioner's objections and adopted the R&R. (Doc.
No. 35.) Petitioner next filed the present Motion pursuant to
Fed. R Civ. P. 60(b)(6), asking this Court to reconsider its
Order adopting the R&R and denying the writ of habeas
corpus. (Doc. No. 45.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) governs a party's ability
to ask for relief from a judgment or order. It states:
(b) Grounds for Relief from a Final Judgment, Order, or
Proceeding. On motion and just terms, the court may relieve a
party or its legal representative from a final judgment,
order, or proceeding for the following reasons: (1) mistake,
inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly
discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could
not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial
under Rule 59(b); (3) fraud (whether previously called
intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by
an opposing party; (4) the judgment is void; (5) the judgment
has been satisfied, released or discharged; it is based on an
earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or
applying it prospectively is no longer equitable; or (6) any
other reason that justifies relief.
Id. Rule 60(b)(6) “vests power in courts
adequate to enable them to vacate judgments whenever such
action is appropriate to accomplish justice.” Devon
IT, Inc. v. IBM Corp., No. 10-2899, 2013 WL 6721748, at
*3 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 20, 2013) (quoting Klapprott v. United
States, 335 U.S. 601, 615 (1949) (internal quotation
marks omitted)). “This provision applies only when
there are reasons for relief other than those set out in the
more specific clauses of Rule 60(b).” Id. The
district court should employ a “flexible, multifactor
approach to Rule 60(b)(6) motions . . . that takes into
account all the particulars of a movant's case.”
Cox v. Horn, 757 F.3d 113, 122 (3d Cir. 2014).
However, the court should utilize 60(b)(6) sparingly and only
in “extraordinary circumstances where, without such
relief, an extreme and unexpected hardship would
Rule 60(b), Petitioner requests that the Court reopen the
action and address the following claims: (1) Petitioner's
sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of
parole violated the Eighth Amendment pursuant to Miller
v. Alabama, 132 S.Ct. 2455 (2012); (2) Petitioner was
denied effective assistance of counsel at trial and on direct
appeal, and PCRA counsel was ineffective for failing to raise
the issue of their effectiveness on collateral appeal; (3)
Petitioner's claims were not decided on the merits as
warranted by equitable tolling; and (4) Petitioner's
federal habeas proceeding should have been stayed pending the
determination of Miller's retroactivity. (Doc.
No. 45 at 1, 5, 26.)
first three claims Petitioner raises, however, are barred as
second or successive habeas petitions. The AEDPA, codified in
part in 28 U.S.C. § 2244, sets limits on second or
successive federal habeas petitions.
First, any claim that has already been adjudicated in a
previous petition must be dismissed. § 2244(b)(1).
Second, any claim that has not already been adjudicated must
be dismissed unless it relies on either a new and retroactive
rule of constitutional law or new facts showing a high
probability of actual innocence. § 2244(b)(2). Third,
before the district court may accept a successive petition
for filing, the court of appeals must determine that ...