United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
John E. Jones III Judge
11, 2018, the pro se defendant Roger Sedlak
(“Defendant”) filed a motion (Doc. 525) under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) for relief from the order of March 10,
2015. (Doc. 447). That order denied his motion
under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Defendant asserts that in the
2255 proceedings the Court mistakenly failed to adjudicate:
(1) several claims he made in his 2255 motion under
Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013); and
(2) a claim that the government improperly withheld a
three-level reduction in his offense level for acceptance of
responsibility under Amendment 775 to the sentencing
March 2009, Defendant was named in a three-count
indictment. In November 2009, he was named in an
eighteen-count superseding indictment. Pursuant to a written
plea agreement executed in June 2010, he pled guilty to four
counts of the superseding indictment, Counts 1, 3, 5, and 18.
Count 1 charged a conspiracy under 18 U.S.C. § 371 to
violate 18 U.S.C. § 2421, interstate transportation with
the intent to engage in prostitution, and to violate 18
U.S.C. § 2422(a), persuading, inducing, coercing and
enticing interstate travel to engage in prostitution. Count 3
charged a substantive violation of section 2422(a). Count 5
charged a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1),
aggravated identity theft. Count 18 charged a violation of 18
U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B)(i), money laundering. On July 7,
2011, Defendant was sentenced to an aggregate term of 145
months' imprisonment and to ten years of supervised
convictions and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal,
United States v. Sedlak, 529 Fed.Appx. 253 (3d Cir.
2013)(nonprecedential), with the Third Circuit denying a
petition for rehearing on September 3, 2013. United
States v. Sedlak, No. 11-2892 (3d Cir.). On March 10,
2015, the Court denied Defendant's motion under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 to vacate the convictions and sentence.
United States v. Sedlak, 2015 WL 1033981 (M.D. Pa.).
On February 8, 2016, the Third Circuit denied Defendant's
application for a certificate of appealability in regard to
the 2255 motion and then on September 11, 2017, denied his
petition for rehearing. United States v. Sedlak, No.
15-2446 (3d Cir.).
seeking relief from the order denying the 2255 motion,
Defendant invokes Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). Rule 60(b) has an
“unquestionably valid role to play in habeas cases,
” Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 534
(2005), but cannot be applied if it is inconsistent with
“applicable federal statutory provisions and
rules.” Id. at 529. One such applicable
statutory provision is the gatekeeping provision of section
2255 that prohibits the filing of a second or successive 2255
motion unless the court of appeals authorizes it. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255(h). See also 28 U.S.C. §
2244(b)(3)(A); 28 U.S.C. § 2255 Rule 12; Fed.R.Civ.P.
81(a)(4)(A). To prevent a defendant from circumventing
section 2255(h)'s limitation on the filing of a second or
successive 2255 motion, a Rule 60(b) motion will be treated
as a 2255 motion if in substance it presents a claim for
relief from the criminal judgment. Gonzalez, 545
U.S. at 531-32. This will occur if the Rule 60(b) motion:
(1) presents a new claim for relief from the criminal
judgment; or (2) presents a claim that the court's
previous resolution of a 2255 claim on the merits was
mistaken. Id. at 532. A resolution of a claim
“on the merits” means “a determination that
there exist or do not exist grounds entitling a [defendant]
to habeas corpus relief.” Id. at 532 n.4. It
does not include a claim that “a previous ruling which
precluded a merits determination was in error -- for example,
a denial for such reasons as failure to exhaust, procedural
default, or statute-of-limitations bar.” Id.
at 532 n.5.
Rule 60(b) motion only challenges “some defect in the
integrity of the federal habeas proceedings, ”
Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 532, (footnote omitted), it is
not treated as a 2255 motion. Id. The Court gave as
an example of this type of claim fraud on the federal habeas
court. Id. at 532 n.5. As the Third Circuit has put
it, when a “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.” Pridgen v.
Shannon, 380 F.3d 721, 727 (3d Cir. 2004).
instant motion, Defendant makes two claims. Defendant's
first claim is that the Court erroneously decided that it
could not reach the merits of several claims he made under
Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013),
because the claims were being made on collateral review. We
note that the Court did in part rely on this reasoning to
deny the Alleyne claims. Sedlak, 2015 WL
1033981, at *4.
argues this was error under Griffith v. Kentucky,
479 U.S. 314, 328 (1987), which held that a new
constitutional rule for criminal prosecutions is to be
applied retroactively to cases “pending on direct
review or not yet final . . . .” Defendant also cites
United States v. LaPrade, 673 Fed.Appx. 198, 201 n.5
(3d Cir. 2016)(nonprecedential). In LaPrade, the
Third Circuit held that a defendant could pursue an
Alleyne claim in collateral proceedings under 28
U.S.C. § 2255 because his conviction had not yet become
final when Alleyne was decided. At the time
Alleyne was decided, the defendant still had time to
file a petition for a writ of certiorari.
thus appears to be making a proper Rule 60(b) motion for
relief from judgment on his first claim as he is asserting
that the Court failed to reach the merits of his
Alleyne claims because it mistakenly believed the
claims could not be considered on collateral review. He seeks
relief from the judgment so that he can have those claims
does not specify which of the six subsections of Rule 60(b)
applies. A claim that the Court made a legal error,
that is a legal “mistake, ” in not addressing the
merits of his Alleyne claims might in proper
circumstances be cognizable under Rule 60(b)(1) or Rule
60(b)(6). See James v. Virgin Islands Water & Power
Auth., 119 Fed.Appx. 397, 401 (3d Cir. 2005)
not make a selection because Defendant is incorrect in
asserting that the Court did not reach the merits of his
Alleyne claims. The Court did state there was a
procedural bar to considering the claims, but the Court also
went on to consider them on the merits. Sedlak, 2015
WL at 1033981, at *4-5. Since Defendant has already had his
Alleyne claims adjudicated, he is not entitled to
relief under Rule 60(b).
second claim is that the Court failed to reach the merits of
his claim that, under Amendment 775 to the sentencing
guidelines, the government improperly withheld a three-level
reduction in his offense level for acceptance of
responsibility. Defendant asserts the “Court mistakenly
neglected to adopt the pending intervening change in law
propagated by . . . Amendment 775, which became effective
while Sedlak's case was not yet final pending certiorari,
” (Doc. 525, Mot. at 3), nor did it “focus”
on how Amendment 775 “would impact the facts of this
case.” (Id.). Defendant maintains that
“Amendment 775 constitutes ...