United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
R. HORNAK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Petitioner Douglas Me Iter's pro
se Motion for Relief pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
60(b)(l-3) ("Petitioner's Rule 60(b) Motion").
ECF 65. By this motion, Petitioner seeks relief from the
Judgment Order entered by this Court on December 7, 2016, in
which this Court denied his motion brought pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255 ("Petitioner's Section 2255
Motion") and determined that a certificate of
appealability ("CO A") should not issue.
August 29, 2017, the Government filed its Response to
Petitioner's Motion for Relief Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
60(b)(l-3). ECF 69. In its response, the Government contends:
"Melter's Motion should be denied because: (1) the
Third Circuit has already denied a COA; (2) Melter has failed
to establish grounds for relief set forth in Rule 60
(b)(1)-(3); and (3) Melter's motion is really a
successive habeas petition captioned as a Rule 60(b)
motion." Id. at 1.
60(b) provides in relevant part:
(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;....
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1), (2), and (3). The motion was filed
less than one year after the entry of the order, and
therefore, it was timely filed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(c).
support of his Rule 60(b) Motion, Melter makes the following
arguments. First, Petitioner argues that "the denial of
Petitioner's CO A was based on an incorrect
standard that placed too heavy a burden on Petitioner"
as recently decided in Buck v. Davis, 137 S.Ct. 759
(2017). ECF 65 at 1. Second, Petitioner argues that a
reasonable jurist would debate that the plea agreement he
entered into was knowing and voluntary because as a result of
defense counsel's failure to file for discovery or to
investigate any aspect of the Government's case, they had
no idea of the evidence against Petitioner when they advised
him to accept the government's plea deal. Id. at
2. "Without understanding the case against him or his
alternative options for defense, the plea cannot represent a
'knowing or voluntary' choice by the Petitioner,
satisfying the requirement for a COA." Id.
Third, Petitioner argues that a reasonable jurist would
debate the validity of his plea deal because he did not get
any benefit from entering into the plea agreement because the
three level reduction in his offense level as a result of his
plea did not lower his sentencing guidelines range. ECF 65 at
7. "Had Defendant been aware of this [no benefit], he
would have demanded a jury trial as a guilty verdict, if
reached would have not have changed the Defendant's
sentencing exposure but would have allowed Defendant to keep
his rights to appeal." Id. Fourth, Plaintiff
argues that a reasonable jurist would debate the Court's
decision regarding Petitioner's Section 2255 Motion
because in making its decision, the Court mistakenly relied
on untrue fraudulent statements made by the prosecutor
concerning the plea deal, and even if the statements were
correct, a jurist would have reason to debate the validity of
the plea agreement given the language in the plea agreement
that "[t]his letter sets forth the full and complete
terms and conditions of the agreement between Douglas E.
Melter and the United States Attorney for the Western
District of Pennsylvania, and there are no other agreements,
promises, terms or conditions, express or implied."
Id. at 8-9 (citing ECF 65-1 at 17). The allegedly
untrue fraudulent statement at issue is the prosecution's
statement that he told defense counsel if Petitioner did not
plead guilty to all three counts of the indictment, the
government would withdraw the plea offer and seek to file a
superseding indictment charging Petitioner with attempting to
buy a child, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 221 A(b), the
penalty for which is a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years
to life. See ECF 60 at 16.
27, 2017, the Court issued a text order that denied
Petitioner's Rule 60(b) Motion, holding:
The basis of the Motion is that this Court did not give
consideration to the impact, if any, of the decision of the
Supreme Court in Buck v. Davis, 137 S.Ct. 759 (2017). That
decision was delivered by the Supreme Court during the
pendency of the Petitioner's appeal in this case to the
Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The judgment of that
Court was entered after the Supreme Court decision referenced
by Petitioner, and was therefore presumably available for
consideration by that Court. Thus, any request for
reconsideration based on that Supreme Court case is more
properly addressed to the Court of Appeals.
Thereafter, Petitioner filed a pro se motion to
reopen Petitioner's Rule 60(b) Motion [ECF 67], which the