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Spangler v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

June 28, 2019

MARK F SPANGLER, Petitioner,



         This matter comes before the Court on Petitioner Mark Spangler's Amended Motion for Reconsideration, brought under Rule 60(b). Dkt. #16. Mr. Spangler argues that the Court should reconsider its prior Order dismissing this case, specifically its failure to grant him leave to amend his § 2255 Petition, citing Ninth Circuit case law establishing that the court “should not dismiss a pro se complaint without leave to amend unless it is absolutely clear that the deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by amendment.” Dkt. #16 at 5 (citing Schucker v. Rockwood, 846 F.2d 1202, 1204 (9th Cir. 1988)). Mr. Spangler also argues the merits of his original petition.

         The underling facts of this case have been set forth in the prior Order at issue and are incorporated here. See Dkt. #10.

         Rule 60(b) provides that a court may relieve a party from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for any of the following six reasons:

(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;
(2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b);
(3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party;
(4) the judgment is void;
(5) the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable; or
(6) any other reason that justifies relief.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b). Plaintiffs clearly seeks relief under subsection 6 only. See Dkt. #16 at 3, 22. Rule 60(b)(6) is a “catchall provision” that applies only when the reason for granting relief is not covered by any of the other reasons set forth in Rule 60. United States v. Washington, 394 F.3d 1152, 1157 (9th Cir. 2005), overruled on other grounds by United States v. Washington, 593 F.3d 790 (9th Cir. 2010). “It has been used sparingly as an equitable remedy to prevent manifest injustice and is to be utilized only where extraordinary circumstances prevented a party from taking timely action to prevent or correct an erroneous judgment.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, to reopen a case under Rule 60(b)(6), a party must establish “both injury and circumstances beyond his control that prevented him from proceeding . . . in a proper fashion.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). A motion under Rule 60(b)(6) must be made “within a reasonable time.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(c)(1).

         The Court begins by addressing the timeliness of this Motion. The Court's Order dismissing this case was issued on May 24, 2017. Dkt. #10. Mr. Spangler did not file a Motion for Reconsideration or Rule 60(b) Motion following that Order; instead he appealed to the Ninth Circuit. See Dkt. #11 (July 10, 2017, Notice of Appeal). His appeal was ultimately dismissed for lack of a certificate of appealability on January 31, 2018. Dkt. #13. The Ninth Circuit found that “appellant has not shown that ‘jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the [section 2255 motion] 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.'” Id. Thirteen months after this ruling, Mr. Spangler filed a Rule 60(b) Motion in this case, amending it to its current form over two months later. Dkts. #14 and #16.

         Two years have thus passed since the underlying Order was issued. Although Rule 60 does not define a “reasonable time, ” other Courts have found that a Rule 60(b) motion is untimely if it is filed after two years, and specifically in the circumstance of this case where the motion is filed after an appeal has been denied. See United States v. Washington, 20 F.Supp.3d 899, 924, (W.D. Wash. Sep. 2, 2008) (citing cases); Pursley v. Estep, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90192, 2007 WL 4322330 (D. Colo. Dec. 7, 2007).

         Mr. Spangler addresses the timeliness of his Motion at some length. Dkt. #16 at 22-23. He argues that this Motion required the aid of an attorney, which took time to find, and that a transfer between prisons resulted in a delay in obtaining his legal materials. Id. These arguments are unavailing for several reasons. First, Mr. Spangler apparently began searching for an attorney “by the end of the second quarter of 2018.” Id. at 22. The initial process in drafting this Motion thus occurred well after Mr. Spangler had filed and lost his appeal in this case. Second, it is not clear Mr. Spangler actually used the services of an attorney in drafting this Motion, which was filed pro se. Third, Mr. Spangler alleges that there was a delay in obtaining his ...

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