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United States v. Holtzhauer

June 8, 2006

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FRANCIS J. HOLTZHAUER, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Holschuh

Magistrate Judge Abel

ORDER

Defendant has been charged with entering an area of Port Columbus International Airport while carrying a loaded gun in his baggage in violation of 49 U.S.C. § 46314. Section 46314 provides, in relevant part, that "[a] person may not knowingly and willfully enter, in violation of security requirements prescribed under section 44901, 44903(b) or (c), or 44906 of this title, an aircraft or an airport area that serves an air carrier or foreign air carrier." 49 U.S.C. § 46314(a).

On October 11, 2005, Defendant moved to dismiss the charge against him, arguing that the Government is misreading and misapplying § 46314(a) in a way that makes the statute an unconstitutional strict liability offense. On February 27, 2006, the Magistrate Judge recommended that Defendant's motion to dismiss be denied. (Report and Recommendation (February 27, 2006)). However, the Magistrate Judge did not resolve the dispute regarding the proper interpretation of § 46314(a). Defendant therefore filed an objection to the Magistrate Judge's February 27, 2006 Report and Recommendation.

On May 10, 2006, this Court overruled in part and sustained in part Defendant's objections. This Court held that "the correct interpretation of 49 U.S.C. § 46314(a) is that 'knowingly and willfully' modifies the term 'enter' as well as the phrase 'in violation of security requirement,'" but nevertheless adopted the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that Defendant's motion to dismiss be denied. (Order at pp. 4-5 (May 10, 2006)). This matter is now before the Court on the Government's motion for reconsideration of this Court's May 10, 2006 Order. (Doc. # 16).

I. Standard

The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure do not specifically provide for a motion to reconsider. Nevertheless, motions to reconsider have been recognized under the common law doctrine identified in United States v. Healy, 376 U.S. 75 (1964). See United States v. Sims, 252 F. Supp.2d 1255, 1260 (D. N.M. 2003); United States v. Anderson, 85 F. Supp.2d 1084, 1109 (D. Kan. 1999). Courts presented with motions for reconsideration in criminal cases typically evaluate those motions under the same standards applicable to a civil motion to alter or amend judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Sims, 252 F. Supp.2d at 1260; Anderson 85 F. Supp.2d at 1109; United States v. Titterington, CR. 2-20165, 2003 WL 23924932, *1 (W.D. Tenn. May 22, 2003).

The grant or denial of a Rule 59(e) motion is within the informed discretion of the Court. See Huff v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 675 F.2d 119, 122 (6th Cir. 1982). A motion to alter or amend judgment may be granted if there is a clear error of law, newly discovered evidence, an intervening change in controlling law, or to prevent manifest injustice. GenCorp, Inc. v. American Intern. Underwriters, 178 F.3d 804, 834 (6th Cir. 1999)(internal citations omitted). However, a motion to alter or amend a judgment is an extraordinary remedy and should be granted sparingly because of the interests in finality and conservation of scarce judicial resources. American Textile Mfrs. Institute, Inc. v. The Limited, Inc., 179 F.R.D. 541, 547 (S.D. Ohio 1997).

II. Application

In moving for reconsideration, the Government merely "reaffirms its position as set forth in its memorandum contra...." (Motion for Reconsideration at p. 1). The Government does not identify any newly discovered evidence or point to an intervening change in controlling law. Instead, the Government cites United States v. Schier, 438 F.3d 1104 (11th Cir. 2006), for the position that, in order to secure a conviction of Defendant for violation of § 46314(a), the Government need not prove that Defendant knowingly or willfully violated airport security requirements. For the following reasons, this Court concludes that Schier does not provide a basis for the relief requested by the Government.

A. Failure to Meet the Standard for a Motion to Reconsider

First, this Court notes that Schier was decided January 31, 2006. As was noted supra, the Report and Recommendation was issued on February 27, 2006, and this Court's Order was issued on May 10, 2006. Thus, even if Schier could be considered a "change" in the law, it cannot be considered an "intervening" change in the law. Also, the Court notes that Schier is an Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision and is therefore not "controlling law."

B. Lack of Merit in Motion to Reconsider

More importantly, Schier does not support the Government's interpretation of ยง 46314(a). The sufficiency of the evidence used to support a conviction under this statute is discussed in Schier only ...


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