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United States v. Barlow

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

January 28, 2019




         Before the Court is Travis Barlow's ("Defendant") Motion and Memorandum Seeking to Alter or Amend Order Denying Habeas Relief, Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(3). (Doc. 113). For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES Defendant's motion.


         Defendant was indicted on March 21, 2013 for being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), and being a felon in possession of ammunition, also in violation 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). (Doc. 1). On April 4, 2013, Defendant's attorney filed a motion to suppress, which was subsequently amended (Docs 10, 11, & 13). In the motion, Defendant's attorney requested that the Court suppress the ammunition found in the vehicle. (Doc. 10 at pp. 1-2). Defendant's attorney also challenged the warrant that authorized the collection of Defendant's DNA. (Doc. 11 at p. 1).

         Following a hearing on the motion to suppress on June 19, 2013 (Doc. 20 at p. 3), the Court dismissed the motion, finding that Defendant did not have standing to challenge the search of the rental car, as he was not an authorized user of the vehicle. (Id. at p. 5). The Court further found that even if Defendant had standing, the officers lawfully seized the ammunition in the vehicle pursuant to the plain view doctrine. (Id. at p. 8). Defendant entered into a plea agreement with the United States on November 7, 2013 wherein Defendant agreed to plead guilty to Count One of the indictment in return for the United States dismissing Count Two. (Doc. 33). On October 1, 2014, Defendant was sentenced to 235 months in the custody of the United States Bureau of Prisons. (Doc. 54). On that same day, Defendant filed his notice of appeal. (Doc. 51).

         Defendant's appellate counsel filed an Anders brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, asserting that there were no non-frivolous grounds to appeal. See United States v. Barlow, 61 F.App. App'x 131, 131 (5th Cir. 2016). Although Defendant filed his own response, the Fifth Circuit reviewed the record and dismissed Defendant's appeal. Id.

         On December 13, 2016, Defendant filed a motion to vacate his conviction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Doc. 85). That motion was denied on July 9, 2018. (Doc. 111). Now, Defendant brings the instant motion to alter or amend the Order denying his previous motion to vacate. (Doc. 113).


         A motion to alter or amend a judgment must be filed no later than 28 days after the entry of judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e).[1] [A] motion to alter or amend the judgment under Rule 59(e) "must clearly establish either a manifest error of law or fact or must present newly discovered evidence1 and 'cannot be used to raise arguments which could, and should, have been made before the judgment issued. Rosenblatt v. United Way of Greater Hous., 607 F.3d 413, 419 (5th Cir. 2010).

         The manifest error standard is a high one. "A manifest error" is one that "is plain and indisputable, and that amounts to a complete disregard of the controlling law." Guy v. Crown Equip. Corp., 394 F.3d 320, 325 (5th Cir. 2004) quoting Venegas-Hemandez v. Sonolux Records, 370 F.3d 183, 195 (1st Cir.2004). "For example, the motion would be properly taken if the court patently misunderstood a party, making a mistake not of reasoning but of apprehension." Id. at *3 n. 5 (citing Gregg v. Am. Quasar Petroleum Co., 840 F.Supp. 1394, 1401 (D.Colo.1991)). In other words, "[a] motion for reconsideration is proper when the court has patently misunderstood a party, has made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented, has made a mistake not of reasoning but of apprehension, or there has been a significant change or development in the law or facts since the submission of the issues to the court." Gregg, 840 F.Supp. at 1401 (citing EEOC v. Foothills Title Guar. Co., Civ.A. No. 90-A-361, 1991 WL 61012, at *3 (D.Colo. Apr.12, 1991)).


         A. Defendant is not Entitled to Relief Under Sanders v. United States, 373 U.S. 1, 83 S.Ct. 1068 (1963)

         In a scattershot manner, Defendant first argues that he should have been allowed to amend his petition for habeas relief in light of the ruling in Sanders v. United States, 373 U.S. 1, 83 S.Ct. 1068, 1077 (1963) wherein the Supreme Court stated that" a ... determination on the merits is deemed made of an application raising factual issues not conclusively resolved by files and records." (Doc. 113 at p. 7).

         This Court followed the rule set forth in Sanders. As cited by Defendant himself: "[a] federal court has power to deny a motion to vacate under 2255 (sic) on grounds that the motion only states legal conclusions with no factual allegations even though the better course may be to direct the movant to amend his motion." (Id.). At the time of the hearing, Defendant did not allege facts that would allow the Court to grant his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. The Court was well within its authority to deny Defendant's motion, having considered the arguments presented, and did not conclusively base its decision by relying only on "files and records," but on the prevailing legal authority. Defendant failed to establish multiple criteria required ...

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