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Coleman v. Cain

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

April 16, 2015

CALVIN COLEMAN
v.
N. BURL CAIN ET AL., Section

ORDER AND REASONS

JANE TRICHE MILAZZO, District Judge.

Before the Court are Petitioner's 60(b)(3) Motion for Relief from Final Judgment (R. Doc. 148); Petitioner's Motion to Propound Written Interrogatories (R. Doc. 159); Petitioner's Motion to Stay Proceedings (R. Doc. 163); Petitioner's Motion to Recuse the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office (R. Doc. 158); and Respondent's Motion for Sanctions (R. Doc. 157). For the following reasons, all of the aforementioned Motions are DENIED.

BACKGROUND

On July 16, 2001, Petitioner Calvin Coleman was convicted of second-degree murder by an Orleans Parish jury.[1] In July of 2007, Coleman petitioned this Court for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 18 U.S.C. ยง 2254 on several grounds, including the ineffective assistance of counsel in his state court murder trial.[2] On August 10, 2012, an evidentiary hearing was held in this Court to allow Petitioner to submit evidence on his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Specifically, Petitioner claimed that his trial counsel had failed to interview or call Maryann Bindon, a witness who had allegedly told police that she saw a man she knew to be called "Casino" digging through the victim's pockets moments after the shooting. She later declined to identify Petitioner in a photo lineup, stating that she knew Casino and none of the pictures in the lineup was of him. Ms. Bindon could not be located to testify at the evidentiary hearing. Petitioner also complained that trial counsel failed to interview Carl Wright, an individual who was seen running from the scene of the shooting. Mr. Wright likewise did not testify at the evidentiary hearing.

On January 31, 2014, this Court dismissed Petitioner's request for habeas relief. The Court held, in part, that Petitioner failed to prove what further investigation of Mr. Wright would have revealed and whether and to what Ms. Bindon would have testified.

On January 27, 2015, Petitioner, proceeding pro se, filed the instant Motion for Relief from Final Judgment requesting that this Court reconsider its prior decision to deny him a writ of habeas corpus. Petitioner based this request on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(3), which states that the court may relieve a party from a final judgment for fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party. Specifically, Petitioner claims that members of the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office conspired to prevent Ms. Bindon and Mr. Wright from testifying at his 2012 evidentiary hearing. In response to these allegations, Respondent filed a Motion for Sanctions against Petitioner pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. Petitioner then asked this Court to recuse the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office from its representation of Respondent because of its interest in the matter. This Court will address each of these motions in turn.

LAW AND ANALYSIS

A. Motion for Relief from Final Judgment

Petitioner seeks review of this Court's denial of habeas relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(3) on the grounds that members of the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office conspired to prevent Ms. Bindon and Mr. Wright from testifying at his 2012 evidentiary hearing. In particular, Petitioner claims that an agent of the district attorney's office prevented Ms. Bindon from testifying by telling her that it would not "be in her best interest" to do so. He further claims that the assistant district attorney at his evidentiary hearing mislead Petitioner to believe that the government would assist in locating Ms. Bindon while he was actually aware of her whereabouts and had discouraged her from testifying. Petitioner also claims that another assistant district attorney discouraged Mr. Wright from testifying by making threats regarding charges pending against Mr. Wright at the time of the evidentiary hearing. Despite asking "this court to allow him to submit two affidavits, (1) from Ms. Bindon, (2) Mr. Wright, " Petitioner attaches no affidavits and offers no evidence to support his serious allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.

In response to Petitioner's Motion, Respondent submits two sworn affidavits unequivocally disproving Petitioner's allegations. First, Respondent attaches an affidavit from Mel Ryan, an investigator at the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office, in which Mr. Ryan swears to the details of a conversation that he had with Mr. Wright during his investigation for the instant motion. In the affidavit, Mr. Ryan reveals that Mr. Wright relayed the following information:

1. That he was never asked to be a witness at Petitioner's evidentiary hearing;

2. "That no employee of the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office has ever attempted to discourage or threaten him regarding testifying in federal court" on Petitioner's behalf;

3. "That he has never discussed any aspect of this case" with Petitioner;

4. That, if asked by Petitioner, he would refuse to execute an affidavit attesting that agents of the State had prevented him ...


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