United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
William W. Caldwell, United States District Judge.
before this court is Defendant Jeffrey Schmutzler's
pro se “Motion to Obtain Relief from Judgment
or Order” (Doc. 146) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 60(b)(4). In the motion, Defendant seeks relief
from our April 27, 2015 order (Doc. 79), in which we denied
his motion (Doc. 72) to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255. For the reasons that follow, the instant
motion will be denied.
April 3, 2013, Defendant was indicted for receiving child
pornography (Count I) in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
2252A(a)(2) and (b), as well as possessing child pornography
(Count II) in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(5)(B).
(Doc. 19). On July 29, 2013, Defendant, represented by Lori
J. Ulrich, Esquire, of the Federal Public Defender's
Office, pleaded guilty to both counts of the indictment.
(See Docs. 40 & 55).
to sentencing, Defendant retained a private attorney, Royce
Morris, Esquire. Through private counsel, Defendant filed a
motion to withdraw his guilty plea, (Doc. 53), in which he
argued that he should be permitted to withdraw his plea on
the grounds of selective prosecution and ineffective
assistance of counsel. Specifically, he contended that
because of his occupation as a school teacher, he was
selectively prosecuted in federal court, rather than in state
court where most child pornography offenses are prosecuted
and where he would have received a lesser sentence.
(Id. ¶¶ 9-15). In addition, he alleged
that his public defender rendered ineffective assistance by
failing to inform him of his right to challenge the
indictment on grounds of selective prosecution. (Id.
Government, in response, claimed that Defendant was
prosecuted in federal court because his case was part of a
federal investigation and therefore subject to federal law,
sentencing guidelines, and punishment. (Doc. 56 at 14-15).
This court, finding no factual support or legal merit to
Defendant's argument, denied the motion to withdraw his
guilty plea. (Docs. 57 & 58). Thereafter, on July 24,
2014, we sentenced Defendant to 108 months' imprisonment.
(Docs. 65 & 67). Defendant filed a direct appeal on
August 1, 2014, and on February 23, 2015, the Third Circuit
affirmed his sentence and conviction. United States v.
Schmutzler, 602 F. App'x 871 (3d Cir.
2015). He did not seek a writ of certiorari from
the Supreme Court.
conclusion of the direct review process, Defendant has filed
a multitude of motions seeking various forms of relief, none
of which this Court, or any appellate court, has found
meritorious. Pertinent to Defendant's instant motion is
the motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. §
2255, (Doc. 72), which he filed on March 20, 2015. In that
motion, Defendant argued again that he was selectively
prosecuted, claiming that most child pornography offenses are
prosecuted in state court and that he was arbitrarily
prosecuted in federal court based solely on the fact that he
was implicated in a federal investigation. (Id. at
13). Defendant also asserted that the federal court lacked
jurisdiction over the child pornography offenses and claimed
that federal prosecutors violated principles of federalism by
prosecuting him in federal court without first consulting
with a state prosecutor to request that the state relinquish
jurisdiction over the matter. (Id.). Defendant
further argued that his public defender was ineffective for
failing to raise selective prosecution as an objection, and
also claimed that one of his privately retained attorneys
provided ineffective assistance of counsel. (Id. at
April 8, 2015, Defendant filed a brief (Doc. 75) in support
of his § 2255 motion, and, thereafter, on April 22,
2015, the Government filed a brief (Doc. 77) in opposition.
When the clerk's office docketed the Government's
brief in opposition, a standard notation was placed on the
docket stating “Reply Brief due by 5/11/2015.”
(See Doc. 77 annotation). This notation appears to
have been added without direction from the court.
April 27, 2015, this court issued a memorandum and order
(Docs. 78 & 79), which denied Defendant's § 2255
motion on the merits and denied a certificate of
appealability. We found that Defendant could not
establish selective prosecution because he did not provide
clear evidence of similarly situated individuals who were not
prosecuted in federal court. (Doc. 78 at 4-5). We also held
that Defendant's prosecution in federal court was
rationally related to various legitimate government
interests. (Id. at 6). Specifically, we noted that
the Government had an interest in the effective enforcement
of its criminal laws, as well as an interest in the efficient
allocation of its resources. (Id.) We found that the
Government's decision to prosecute offenders implicated
in its own investigations served both of these
we denied Defendant's § 2255 motion and denied a
certificate of appealability, he sought a certificate of
appealability from the Third Circuit. (Doc. 82). His request
for a certificate of appealability was denied by the Third
Circuit on December 21, 2015. (Doc. 89).
October 2, 2017, Defendant filed the instant motion (Doc.
146) under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(4), seeking
relief from this Court's denial of his § 2255
motion. Defendant argues that he is entitled to relief under
Rule 60(b)(4) because we denied his § 2255 motion on
April 27, 2015, before the May 11, 2015 deadline for filing a
reply brief. In addition to requesting that we vacate our
previous denial of his § 2255 motion, Defendant seeks
permission to file a new § 2255 motion, or, in the
alternative, that we reconsider his previous motion after we
afford him an opportunity to file a reply brief. For the
reasons set forth below, however, we will deny
Defendant's Rule 60(b)(4) motion.
filed the instant motion pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. “Rule 60(b) allows a
party to seek relief from a final judgment, and request
reopening of his case, under a limited set of circumstances .
. . .” Gonzales v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 528
(2005). Rule 60(b)(4) permits reopening a judgment when
“the judgment is void.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(4).
Under Rule 60(b)(4), a judgment is only considered
“void” if: (1) the court which entered the
judgment did not have personal or subject matter
jurisdiction; (2) the court entered a decree which was not
within the powers granted to it by law; or (3) the judgment
arose out of a violation of due process that deprived a party
of notice or the opportunity to be heard. See United
Student Aid Funds, Inc. v. Espinosa, 559 U.S. 260, 271
(2010) (“Rule 60(b)(4) applies only in the rare
instance where a judgment is premised either on a certain
type of jurisdictional error or on a violation of due process
that deprives a party of notice or the opportunity to be
heard.”); Marshall v. Bd. of Educ., Bergenfield,
N.J., 575 F.2d 417, 422 (3d ...