United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
E.K. PRATTER United States District Judge
September 24, 1998, the Honorable William H. Yohn denied
Petitioner Gregory Scott's § 2254 habeas corpus
petition. Mr. Scott now brings this “Independent Action
for Relief from Order Denying Section 2254 Motion or,
Alternatively, for Relief Under Rule 60(d) F.R.Civ.P.,
” which the Court will construe as a motion pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(d)(1). Because the motion
is in substance a successive habeas corpus petition, this
Court has no jurisdiction to consider Mr. Scott's motion
until he obtains an order from the Third Circuit Court of
Appeals authorizing this Court to consider his motion.
Pennsylvania Superior Court summarized the facts of this case
For several weeks prior to the murder, [Mr. Scott] and the
victim, Marlin Ware, engaged in several confrontations
culminating on July 7, 1986, with an argument over a crushed
cigarette pack. During the fight that followed, the victim
pushed [Mr. Scott] and [Mr. Scott] ran into his
girlfriend's house to arm himself with a ten inch knife.
[Mr. Scott] ran to the victim's house but the victim was
not at home. [Mr. Scott] waved the knife about and told the
victim's sister that he was going to kill her brother.
Approximately one half hour later, [Mr. Scott, ] still armed
with a knife, confronted Ware, who put down the bottle he was
carrying, and implored [Mr. Scott] to fight without the
knife. [Mr. Scott] responded by chasing the victim down the
street until the victim fell. [Mr. Scott] landed on top of
him and stabbed him in the back. [Mr. Scott] fled the scene
and Ware died soon after as a result of the stab wound to his
lungs and liver.
Commonwealth v. Scott, No. 1076 EDA 2014, 2015 WL
7019058, at *1 (Pa. Super. Ct. June 5, 2015) (citation
omitted). Mr. Scott was convicted of first-degree murder and
possession of an instrument of crime following a bench trial
Scott's trial counsel also represented Mr. Scott during
his direct appeal, which concluded unsuccessfully in 1989
when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Mr. Scott's
petition for appeal. See Id. at *2.
Scott filed a counseled petition for relief pursuant to the
Post Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”) in 1992
alleging multiple claims of ineffective assistance of trial
counsel. Mr. Scott's PCRA petition was denied by the PCRA
court. The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed and the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Mr. Scott's petition
for appeal. Id.
Scott filed a § 2254 habeas corpus petition in 1997
alleging two claims of ineffective assistance of trial
counsel. Judge Yohn, adopting Magistrate Judge Arnold C.
Rapoport's Report and Recommendation, denied Mr.
Scott's § 2254 petition on the merits, finding that
Mr. Scott failed to demonstrate that he was prejudiced by any
of his trial counsel's alleged errors. Scott v.
Stepanik, No. 97-5355 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 24, 1998) (Doc.
No. 15). The Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied Mr.
Scott's application for a certificate of appealability.
Id. (Doc. No. 19).
Scott filed a second counseled PCRA petition in 2012 alleging
claims of ineffective assistance of both trial counsel and
post-conviction counsel. Mr. Scott also asserted a claim of
actual innocence. The PCRA court dismissed the petition as
time barred and the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed.
Scott, 2015 WL 7019058, at *8.
Scott now seeks relief from Judge Yohn's September 24,
1998 Order denying his § 2254 habeas corpus petition.
Rule of Civil Procedure 60(d)(1) authorizes a district court
to “entertain an independent action to relieve a party
from a judgment, order, or proceeding.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
60(d)(1). Courts generally analyze motions brought pursuant
to Rule 60(d) in the same manner as motions brought pursuant
to Rule 60(b). Rhone v. Larkins, Civ. No. 99-743,
2016 WL 3181757, *6 (E.D. Pa. June 8, 2016); Sharpe v.
United States, Crim. No. 02-771, 2010 WL 2572636, at *2
(E.D. Pa. June 22, 2010). Accordingly, just as in the Rule
60(b) context, a court must first determine whether a motion
styled as a Rule 60(d) motion is, in substance, an improperly
filed successive habeas corpus petition. Sharpe,
2010 WL 2572636, at *2. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has
in those instances in which the factual predicate of a
petitioner's Rule 60(b) motion attacks the manner in
which the earlier habeas judgment was procured and not the
underlying conviction, the Rule 60(b) motion may be
adjudicated on the merits. However, when the Rule 60(b)
motion seeks to collaterally attack the petitioner's