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Levingston v. Warden, Warren Correctional Institution

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

May 31, 2017

MARTY LEVINGSTON, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN, WARREN CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION, Respondent.

          ORDER GRANTING RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO RECONSIDER THE PORTION OF THE COURT'S ORDER GRANTING A BLANKET CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY ON ALL FOURTEEN GROUNDS (DOC. 46)

          Timothy S. Black, Judge

         This civil action is before the Court regarding Respondent's motion to reconsider the portion of the Court's Order granting a blanket certificate of appealability on all fourteen grounds. (Doc. 46).

         I. BACKGROUND

         On November 6, 2015, the Magistrate Judge assigned to this case issued a report and recommendations recommending that Petitioner Marty Livingston's petition for habeas corpus be denied. (Doc. 36). Following Petitioner's objections to the report and recommendations (Doc. 39), this Court ordered the Magistrate Judge to supplement his report and recommendations. (Doc. 40). The Magistrate Judge's supplemental report and recommendations were filed January 7, 2016, and again recommended dismissal of the petition for writ of habeas corpus. (Doc. 41). Following Petitioner's objections to the supplemental report and recommendations (Doc. 42), this Court entered an Order on February 6, 2017, largely adopting the report and recommendations of the Magistrate Judge and dismissing the petition. (Doc. 43).

         The Court's Order closing this civil action adopted the report and recommendations of the Magistrate Judge in all ways save one: while the Magistrate Judge recommended that a certificate of appealability (COA) should not issue with respect to the grounds in Petitioner's petition for writ of habeas corpus, this Court determined that a COA was appropriate, and accordingly issued a COA for all of the claims in the petition. The Order did not individually evaluate each claim of the petition to determine whether a COA was warranted, but instead issued a “blanket” COA indicating that Petitioner was free to appeal any of the grounds in his petition.

         On February 16, 2017, Respondent filed the motion for reconsideration of the Court's previous Order dismissing the petition for writ of habeas corpus. (Doc. 46). Respondent's motion asks the Court to reconsider only the portion of its Order granting a COA to the Petitioner. Respondent argues that the issuance of a “blanket” COA was improper, as the Court was required to evaluate each individual ground of the petition to determine if a COA was warranted for that ground. Respondent further argues that none of the 14 grounds enumerated in the petition merit the Court's granting a COA.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         While the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “do not recognize a ‘Motion for Reconsideration[, ]' [t]he Sixth Circuit has held…that a court may treat a motion to reconsider under the standard of Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” Solar X Eyewear, Case No. 1:11cv763, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100421, at *3 (N.D. Ohio Sept. 7, 2011) (citing Smith v. Hudson, 600 F.2d 60, 62-63 (6th Cir. 1979) (“[A] motion which asks a court to vacate and reconsider, or even to reverse its prior holding, may properly be treated under Rule 59(e) as a motion to alter or amend a judgment.”)). The Sixth Circuit has determined, however, that a motion for reconsideration may be granted only: “(1) to correct a clear error of law; (2) to account for newly discovered evidence or an intervening change in the controlling law; or (3) to otherwise prevent manifest injustice.” CGH Transp. Inc. v. Quebecor World, Inc., 261 Fed. App'x 817, 823 (6th Cir. 2008) (citing GenCorp, Inc. v. Am. Int'l Underwriters, 178 F.3d 804, 834 (6th Cir. 1999)). Such a motion is extraordinary and is seldom granted because it contradicts notions of finality and repose. Wells Fargo Bank v. Daniels, No. 1:05cv2573, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80694, at *1 (N.D. Ohio Oct. 22, 2007). “Further, under Rule 59(e), parties cannot use a motion for reconsideration to raise new legal arguments that could have been raised before a judgment was issued.” Roger Miller Music v. Sony/ATV Publ'g, 477 F.3d 383, 395 (6th Cir. 2007).[1]

         III. ANALYSIS

         The main thrust of Respondent's motion is that this Court erred when it chose to grant a COA for each of the grounds in the petition for writ of habeas corpus without evaluating each ground individually. Respondent argues that “[i]t is well settled that a blanket certificate of appealability for all claims is improper, even in a capital case.” (Doc. 46, at 5 (citing Frazier v. Huffman, 348 F.3d 174 (6th Cir. 2003), citing Porterfield v. Bell, 258 F.3d 484 (6th Cir. 2001); Murphy v. Ohio, 263 F.3d 466 (6th Cir. 2001)).

         The Court has reviewed the cases offered by Respondent in support of its motion and the law is clear. The rule articulated in the cases cited by Respondent is applicable to the blanket order granting a COA previously granted by the Court in this case. The issuance of such a blanket COA was therefore a “clear error of law” that merits the granting of Respondent's construed Rule 59(e) motion. The Court must reevaluate each of Petitioner's grounds for relief separately to determine which grounds merit a COA and which do not. Accordingly, the Court will evaluate each of Petitioner's grounds for relief in turn.

         1. Procedurally defaulted claims

         In its previous Order adopting the magistrate judge's report and recommendations and denying Petitioner's motion for writ of habeas corpus, the Court found that grounds 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, and 14 of Petitioner's motion were procedurally defaulted, and accordingly denied each ground. (Doc. 43). The Supreme Court has outlined the test a district court should use to evaluate whether a COA is warranted for a habeas claim that was denied on procedural grounds:

[W]hen the district court denies a habeas petition on procedural grounds without reaching the prisoner's underlying constitutional claim, a COA should issue (and an appeal of the district court's order may be taken) if the prisoner shows, at least, that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right, and that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the district court was correct in its procedural ruling.

Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 478 (2000). The Court shall apply this standard to each of the procedurally defaulted grounds for habeas relief from Petitioner's habeas petition.

         a. ...


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