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Strain v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

January 13, 2015



BRIAN A. JACKSON, Chief Judge.

Before the Court is pro se Movant Timothy M. Strain's Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 143) filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 60(b)(3), as well as two Motions to Expedite Judicial Relief (Docs. 144, 145) seeking expedited judgment by this Court regarding his Motion for Reconsideration. Upon the Court's Order (Doc. 146), the United States filed a Response to Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 147). For reasons explained herein, Strain's Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED IN PART and DISMISSED IN PART, rendering moot Strain's Motions to Expedite Judicial Relief.


Strain is currently an inmate in the Federal Correctional Complex of Yazoo City, Mississippi. On October 19, 2010, Strain was convicted in this Court of two counts of bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344. (Doc. 44). On January 11, 2012, the Court sentenced Strain to imprisonment of ninety months as to both counts, to run concurrently, and judgment was entered on January 25, 2012. (Docs. 88, 91). Strain did not pursue a direct appeal of the final judgment in his case.

On January 3, 2013, Strain filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Doc. 127) to vacate the sentence imposed by this Court. On January 11, 2013, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation (Doc. 129), recommending denial of Strain's motion to vacate because Strain did not present the requisite showing of cause and prejudice to overcome the procedural bar resulting from Strain raising issues on collateral attack which were not raised through direct appeal. The Report instructed Strain that he had fourteen days after service of the Report to file written objections. (Doc. 129 at p. 1). Strain did not file an objection to the Magistrate Judge's Report until August 27, 2013, more than seven months after the issuance of the Report. On October 25, 2013, the Court adopted the Magistrate Judge's Report and denied Strain's § 2255 motion to vacate. ( See Doc. 137).

In the instant Motion, filed on June 25, 2014, Strain seeks the Court's reconsideration of its denial of his motion to vacate. Strain asserts that he was unjustly deprived of procedural due process by not being provided notice or fair opportunity to timely file objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report or to timely file a direct appeal of his conviction. (Doc. 143 at p. 1). Further, Strain argues that reconsideration is warranted because his grand jury indictment and jury trial conviction were obtained through misconduct by law enforcement officials and prosecutors. ( Id. ). Finally, Strain asserts that he was prevented "from fully and fairly presenting his defense because of being wholly deprived access to the Court" between March 11, 2010 through the end of February, 2012. ( Id. at p. 2).


While the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not specifically recognize a motion for reconsideration, "[a]ny motion termed as such will be treated as either a motion to alter or amend the judgment under Rule 59(e) or a motion for relief from judgment under Rule 60(b)." Harrington v. Runyon, 98 F.3d 1337, 1337 (5th Cir. 1996). "If a motion for reconsideration is filed within twenty-eight days of the entry of the order or judgment being challenged, it will be treated as a 59(e) motion; if it is filed after twenty-eight days, it will be treated as a 60(b) motion." Turner v. Chase, No. 08-4951, 2010 WL 2545277, at *2 (E.D. La. June 16, 2010) (internal quotation marks and edits omitted).

Rule 60(b) provides that a district court may "relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding" for any one of certain enumerated grounds. Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). "The purpose of Rule 60(b) is to balance the principle of finality of a judgment with the interest of the court in seeing that justice is done in light of all the facts." Hesling v. CSX Transp., Inc., 396 F.3d 632, 638 (5th Cir. 2005).

Specifically concerning Rule 60(b)(3), under which Strain's instant motion is filed, grounds for relief are found in reasons of "fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party." Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(3). "A rule 60(b)(3) assertion must be proved by clear and convincing evidence, and the conduct complained of must be such as to prevent the losing party from fully and fairly presenting its case. The purpose of the rule is to afford parties relief from judgments which are unfairly obtained, not those which may be factually incorrect." Diaz v. Methodist Hosp., 46 F.3d 492, 496 (5th Cir. 1995) (quotation marks and citations omitted). A party asserting a Rule 60(b)(3) motion "must establish (1) that the adverse party engaged in fraud or other misconduct, and (2) that this misconduct prevented the moving party from fully and fairly presenting his case." Hesling, 396 F.3d at 641.


As a preliminary matter, the Court must establish that Rule 60(b) "does not provide for relief from a judgment in a criminal case." United States v. O'Keefe, 169 F.3d 281, 289 (5th Cir. 1999). "[A] Rule 60(b) motion attacks, not the substance of the federal court's resolution of a claim on the merits, but some defect in the integrity of the federal habeas proceedings." Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 532 (2005). Rule 60(b) may not be used as a vehicle to circumvent restraints on filing successive 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motions. See United States v. Rich, 141 F.3d 550, 553 (5th Cir. 1998).

The Court must therefore determine which of Strain's Rule 60(b) motions are, in fact, successive § 2255 motions in disguise. See United States v. Hernandes, 708 F.3d 680, 681-82 (5th Cir. 2013). The Court finds that Strain's claim of deprivation of the opportunity to timely respond to the Magistrate Judge's Report is an assertion of a defect in the integrity of his habeas proceedings under Rule 60(b). while the remainder of Strain's claims go toward the substance of the Court's ...

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