United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
Barry Fischer Senior U.S. District Judge.
Court issued a Memorandum Opinion on March 22, 2019 denying
motions to suppress evidence filed by Defendants David
Anthony Somerville and Natel Deque Walker. (Docket No. 139).
Shortly thereafter, the Court granted a motion to withdraw
filed by Somerville's former counsel and appointed a new
lawyer to represent him. (Docket Nos. 145; 146). Presently
before the Court are Somerville's motions to reopen the
suppression hearing and reconsider the Court's Memorandum
Opinion, both of which are opposed by the Government. (Docket
Nos. 156; 157; 160). The defense declined to file a reply
brief by the deadline established by the Court and the
motions are now ripe for disposition. (Docket No. 155). After
careful consideration of the parties' positions and for
the following reasons, Somerville's motions , 
MOTION TO REOPEN SUPPRESSION HEARING
parties are well familiar with the facts of this matter,
which are fully set forth in the Memorandum Opinion, the
Court turns initially to the legal standard governing motions
to reopen. Whether to reopen a proceeding is committed to the
sound discretion of the District Court. United States v.
Smith, 751 F.3d 107, 114 (3d Cir. 2014) (citation
omitted). However, “courts should be extremely
reluctant to reopen proceedings.” United States v.
Kithcart, 218 F.3d 213, 219-20 (3d Cir. 2000) (citation
omitted); see also United States v. Trant,
924 F.3d 83, 88 (3d Cir. 2019) (noting that restraint on
reopening in Kithcart applies to suppression
When determining whether to reopen a proceeding, the
paramount factor for a district court to consider is whether
reopening, if permitted, would prejudice the party opposing
it. United States v. Kithcart, 218 F.3d 213, 220 (3d
Cir. 2000). Timing is key to this analysis. “If
[reopening] comes at a stage in the proceedings where the
opposing party will have an opportunity to respond and
attempt to rebut the evidence introduced, ” the
possibility of prejudice is greatly lessened.
Coward, 296 F.3d at 181 (quoting United States
v. Blankenship, 775 F.2d 735, 741 (6th Cir. 1985)). In
addition, a party that seeks to reopen a proceeding must
provide a reasonable explanation for its failure to initially
present the evidence. Kithcart, 218 F.3d at 220. In
this regard, “[c]onsideration should be given to
whether the law on point at the time was unclear or
ambiguous.” Coward, 296 F.3d at 182.
Smith, 751 F.3d at 114.
Somerville seeks to reopen the suppression hearing based upon
allegations that his counsel was constitutionally ineffective
for failing to object to the admission of hearsay evidence
during the testimony of Officer Scott Patton at the August
10, 2018 and December 11, 2018 hearings and for failing to
utilize certain evidence to cross-examine Officer Patton at
the August 10, 2018 hearing. (Docket No. 156). In this
Court's estimation, neither argument justifies reopening
the suppression hearing for several reasons. First, it is
well established that hearsay is admissible at suppression
hearings such that defense counsel was not ineffective for
failing to object on hearsay grounds. See e.g.,
United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 679, 100
S.Ct. 2406, 65 L.Ed.2d 424 (1980) (“At a suppression
hearing, the court may rely on hearsay and other evidence,
even though that evidence would not be admissible at
trial.”)); Brosius v. Warden, 278 F.3d 239,
246 n.4 (3d Cir. 2002) (“Hearsay may be considered in a
suppression hearing in a federal court.”); United
States v. Britton, 2016 WL 7380696, at *3 (M.D. Pa. Dec.
20, 2016) (denying § 2255 petition asserting ineffective
assistance of counsel due to failure to object to hearsay
evidence at suppression hearing). Second, the evidence
presented at the August 10, 2018 hearing concerning the
chain-of-custody of the narcotics and the lack of dash camera
footage was not specifically referenced in the Court's
March 22, 2019 Memorandum Opinion denying the suppression
motions and otherwise would not support the suppression of
evidence. See Docket No. 139; see also
United States v. Jackson, 363 Fed.Appx. 208, 210 (3d
Cir. 2010) (denying request for an evidentiary hearing on
suppression motion when defendant merely pointed to
discrepancies in police reports and raised questions about
the truthfulness of the accounts provided). Therefore,
Defendant has failed to meet his burden to demonstrate that
the Court should exercise its discretion to reopen the
suppression proceedings. See Smith, 751
F.3d at 114.
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.” Kabacinski v. Bostrom
Seating, Inc., 98 Fed.Appx. 78, 81 (3d Cir. 2004)
(quoting Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906,
909 (3d Cir. 1985)); United States v. Kalb, 891 F.3d
455, 467 (3d Cir. 2018). Because “federal courts have a
strong interest in the finality of judgments, ”
United States v. Hoey, Cr. No. 09-200, 2011 WL
748152, at *2 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 15, 2011) (citation omitted),
the standard that must be met to prevail on a motion for
reconsideration is high, see Berry v. Jacobs
IMC, LLC, 99 Fed.Appx. 405, 410 (3d Cir. 2004).
Court may grant a motion for reconsideration if the moving
party shows: (1) an intervening change in the controlling
law; (2) the availability of new evidence which was not
available when the court issued its order; or (3) the need to
correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent a manifest
injustice. United States v. Banks, Crim No. 03-245,
2008 WL 5429620, at *1 (W.D. Pa. Dec. 31, 2008) (citing
Max's Seafood Café by Lou-Ann, Inc.
v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999)). Motions
for reconsideration are not a tool to re-litigate and reargue
issues which have already been considered and disposed of by
the Court, see Hoey, 2011 WL 748152, at *2
(citation omitted), to express disagreement with the
Court's rulings, see United States v.
Perminter, Cr. No. 10-204, 2012 WL 642530, at *7 (W.D.
Pa. Feb. 28, 2012), or for addressing arguments that a party
should have raised earlier, see United States v.
Dupree, 617 F.3d 724, 732-33 (3d Cir. 2010) (quotations
omitted); Kalb, 891 F.3d at 467. Rather, such a
motion is appropriate only where the court misunderstood a
party or where there has been a significant change in law or
facts since the Court originally ruled on that issue.
Hoey, 2011 WL 748152, at *2. At least at the
District Court level, motions for reconsideration should be
sparingly granted. See Cole's Wexford Hotel,
Inc. v. UPMC and Highmark, Inc., 2017 WL 432947, *2
(W.D. Pa. Feb. 2, 2017).
support of his motion for reconsideration, Somerville has not
cited any changes in the controlling law or the availability
of any new evidence. (Docket No. 157). Rather, he submits
that the Court erred as a matter of law in that it allegedly
applied an incorrect legal standard in evaluating the
Terry frisk of his person and did not specifically
find that the officer had a reasonable belief that he was
armed and dangerous. (Id.). The Government counters
that this argument was never raised by the defense and that
the Terry frisk of Defendant was justified in any
event. (Docket No. 160). Once again, the Court agrees with
the Government's assessment.
Court's estimation, Somerville's motion must be
denied because the record reveals that he did not raise a
challenge to the Terry frisk in his initial motion
or proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law.
(See Docket No. 71 at 2; 136 at 3-4). He cited none
of the caselaw raised by his current counsel and focused on
challenging the constitutionality of the traffic stop; the
search of vehicle; and inculpatory statements he made to law
enforcement. (Id.). The Court of Appeals has
even the most learned judges are not clairvoyant. Thus, we do
not require district judges to anticipate and join arguments
that are never raised by the parties. Instead courts rely on
the litigants not only to cite relevant ...