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Henry v. Smith

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 23, 2017

BARRY SMITH, et al., Respondents.


          Slomsky, Judge


         On March 12, 2013, Petitioner Michael Joseph Henry was convicted in state court of nine counts of making a false written statement concerning the purchase of a firearm in violation of 18 Pa. Const. Stat. § 6111(g)(4), seven counts of unlawfully transferring a firearm, id. § 6111(g)(1), and seven counts of making a false unsworn statement to authorities, id. § 4904(B). (Doc. No. 13 at 1.) The trial court sentenced him to 20 to 66 years' imprisonment. (Id.) On May 12, 2015, the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the trial court's sentence. (Id.) Petitioner did not appeal the decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court or file a petition pursuant to Pennsylvania's Post Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”). (Id. at 2.)

         On October 16, 2016, Petitioner filed a pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.[1] He argued that:

(1) Pennsylvania lacked the power to prosecute him because it “abdicated its Tenth Amendment sovereign police power to prosecute” by opting into the Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth in Sentencing Incentive Program; (2) the prosecution's failure to draft bills of information in the conjunctive, as opposed to the disjunctive, and to charge the essential elements that rendered his crime “aggravated, ” deprived the trial court of subject matter jurisdiction; (3) counsel was ineffective in failing to properly advise him of the trial court's lack of jurisdiction to convict him; (4) his sentence was unconstitutional because it was ex post facto and constituted cruel and unusual punishment; and (5) counsel was ineffective in failing to object to inflammatory victim impact statements and other exhibits in the presentencing report.

(Id.) On February 28, 2017, Magistrate Judge Heffley issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”), recommending that this Court deny Petitioner's claims as untimely under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”). (Id. at 1.) On March 14, 2017, Petitioner filed Objections to the R&R. (Doc. No. 14.) On July 10, 2017, this Court issued an Order and accompanying Opinion, approving and adopting the R&R and denying the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. (Doc. No. 16.)

         On July 31, 2017, Petitioner filed a Motion for Enlargement of Time and a Motion for Reconsideration pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59. (Doc. Nos. 18, 20.) He argues that “newly discovered precedents . . . would have change[d] the result of the proceeding” and that “the Court . . . misunderstood his objections resulting in a manifest error of law.” (Doc. No. 20 at 1.) On August 1, 2017, the Court granted Petitioner's Motion for Enlargement of Time. (Doc. No. 19.) For reasons stated below, however, the Court will deny the Motion for Reconsideration.


         The purpose of a motion for reconsideration is “to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.” Max's Seafood Café v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999) (quoting Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985)). A proper motion for reconsideration “must rely on one of three grounds: (1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence; or (3) the need to correct clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice.” Wiest v. Lynch, 710 F.3d 121, 128 (3d Cir. 2013) (quoting Lazaridis v. Wehmer, 591 F.3d 666, 669 (3d Cir. 2010)).

         A motion for reconsideration should only address “factual and legal matters that the Court may have overlooked.” In re Blood Reagents Antitrust Litig., 756 F.Supp.2d 637, 640 (E.D. Pa. 2010) (quoting Glendon Energy Co. v. Borough of Glendon, 836 F.Supp. 1109, 1122 (E.D. Pa. 1993)). It is improper that a motion for reconsideration ask the court to “rethink what it had already thought through-rightly or wrongly.” Id. (quoting Glendon Energy Co., 836 F.Supp. at 1122). A motion for reconsideration is not a tool to present new legal theories or arguments that could have been asserted to support the first motion. Federico v. Charterers Mut. Assur. Ass'n, Ltd., 158 F.Supp.2d 565, 578 (E.D. Pa. 2001).

         Where the moving party argues that the court overlooked certain evidence or controlling decisions of law which were previously presented, a court should grant a motion for reconsideration only if the issues overlooked might reasonably have resulted in a different conclusion. Cataldo v. Moses, 361 F.Supp.2d 420, 433 (D.N.J. 2004). Federal courts have a strong interest in the finality of judgements and therefore should grant motions for reconsideration sparingly. In re Asbestos Prods. Liab. Litig. (No. VI), 801 F.Supp.2d 333, 334 (E.D. Pa. 2011).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59, Petitioner requests that the Court reconsider its Order adopting the R&R and denying his Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. (Doc. No. 20.) In particular, Petitioner asserts that “newly discovered precedents” would have changed the result of the first proceeding. (Id. at 1.) Because that result turned on the Court's determination that AEDPA time-barred the habeas petition, the Court need only address whether Petitioner cites newly discovered evidence or law that would have altered that decision. For reasons explained below, Petitioner's arguments lack merit and the Motion will be denied.

         A. Day v. McDonough Is Not Newly Discovered Precedent That Would Have ...

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