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Colbert v. Haynes

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

January 7, 2020

BOBBY DARRELL COLBERT, Petitioner,
v.
ROB HAYNES, Respondent.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT

          RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on pro se Petitioner Colbert's Motion for Relief from Judgment. Dkt. #56. On April 22, 2019, this Court adopted the Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) of the Honorable Michelle L. Peterson and dismissed Petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Dkt. #43. The Court issued a judgment the same day and closed this case. Dkt. #44. On November 26, 2019, Petitioner filed a Motion for Relief from Judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). Dkt. #56. Respondent has not filed a response. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Petitioner's Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The full background of this case is set forth in this Court's previous decisions. See Dkt. #43 at 2-3. Petitioner was convicted in Washington State Superior Court in 2005 and sentenced to 136 months to life on one count of second degree rape and one count of third degree rape. Dkt. #10 at 1. Since that time, Petitioner has filed five habeas petitions with this Court, including the petition at issue in this closed case. See Dkt. #29 at 2-3 (recounting history).

         On March 22, 2017, the state court entered an order correcting a scrivener's error on the in Petitioner's 2005 judgment. Dkt. #25-5 at 143, 204. The 2005 judgment incorrectly listed the maximum term for the second degree rape charge as ten years rather than the actual statutory maximum term for the offense, which is life. Id. This error did not affect the trial court's sentencing in 2005, which sentenced Petitioner to a minimum term of confinement within the standard range and to a maximum term of life. See Dkt. #25-1 at 6.

         On October 24, 2018, Petitioner filed his fifth petition for writ of habeas corpus by a person in state custody pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Dkt. #10. His petition claimed to challenge the order entered on March 22, 2017, which Petitioner characterized as an “amended judgment.” However, upon review of the record, Judge Peterson determined that the March 2017 order was not an amended judgment but merely an order correcting the scrivener's error in Petitioner's original judgment. Accordingly, on March 26, 2019, Judge Peterson recommended dismissal of the petition as “clearly successive” under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b). Dkt. #29 at 5. On April 22, 2019, this Court adopted the R&R in full and dismissed Petitioner's habeas petition. Dkt. #43. The Court found that the R&R “leads to the clear conclusion that the Petition is an improperly filed successive petition and should be dismissed.” Id. at 2.

         On November 26, 2019, Petitioner filed the instant Motion for Relief from Judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(4) alleging a “defect in the integrity of the proceedings.” Dkt. #56 at 1-2 (citing Gonzales v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524 (2005)). Plaintiff argues that the Court erred in dismissing his petition for writ of habeas corpus as “successive” since he was attacking the “amended judgment” entered on March 22, 2017. Respondent has not filed a response.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         Under Rule 60(b), “on motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party . . . from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for . . . mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect . . . newly discovered evidence . . . fraud . . . [if] the judgment is void . . . the judgment has been satisfied . . . or any other reason that justified relief.” “Any other reason” is limited only to exceptional or extraordinary circumstances, and the moving party bears the burden of establishing the existence of such circumstances. United States v. Sparks, 685 F.2d 1128, 1130 (9th Cir. 1982).

         Petitioner has failed to demonstrate any of the above grounds for relief. Although Petitioner brings this motion under Rule 60(b)(4), he does not allege that the judgment is void. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(4) (Providing for relief from judgment if “the judgment is void”). Instead, he generally alleges a “defect in the integrity of the proceedings.” Dkt. #56 at 1-2 (citing Gonzales v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524 (2005)). Petitioner does not assert newly discovered evidence, fraud, or void or satisfied judgment, making subsections (b)(2) through (b)(5) inapplicable. Nor is the catch-all provision of subsection (b)(6) applicable. Section (b)(6) is 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.” Fantasyland Video, Inc. v. Cty. of San Diego, 505 F.3d 996, 1005 (9th Cir. 2007) (internal quotations omitted). Petitioner has not argued such circumstances here.

         Petitioner's remaining ground for relief is subsection (b)(1), which provides the court with discretion to correct a judgment for mistake or inadvertence made by counsel or by the court itself. Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1); Fidelity Fed. Bank, FSB v. Durga Ma Corp. 387 F.3d 1021, 1024 (9th Cir. 2004). Here, Petitioner argues that the court erred in interpreting his habeas petition as a successive challenge to the 2005 judgment rather than a new petition challenging the March 2017 order. See Dkt. #56 at 2-3. In support of this proposition, he claims that the March 2017 order “most certainly was not a scrivener's error” and that the 2005 judgment was not final because “an entire direct appeal precluded Colbert's habeas petition.” Id. at 5.

         As an initial matter, Petitioner has improperly used this Motion to reargue an issue previously considered by the Court. Center for Biological Diversity v. Norton, 304 F.Supp.2d 1174, 1178 (D. Ariz. 2003) (“It is not the proper function of a Rule 60(b) motion to reargue matters that have already been litigated.”). Here, the Court rejected Petitioner's argument that the March 2017 order was an “amended judgment, ” finding that it merely corrected the sentencing data without modifying the underlying conviction or sentence imposed. Dkt. #43 at 2-3 (citing Dkt. #29 at 3-6). On this basis alone, denial of Petitioner's motion is appropriate. See Am. Ironworks & Erectors Inc. v. N. Am. Constr. Corp., 248 F.3d 892, 899 (9th Cir. 2001) (Finding no abuse of discretion for denial of Rule 60(b) motion where movant merely reargued issues raised previously).

         Moreover, Petitioner's arguments are either inapposite or incorrect as a matter of law. First, Petitioner argues that the Supreme Court has interpreted the phrase “second or successive” in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b) to apply to the judgment challenged rather than “all Section 2254 applications filed second or successively in time.” Dkt. #56 at 3 (citing cases). This argument is irrelevant, given the Court's finding that the March 2017 order was not a judgment. See Dkt. #43 at 4. Similarly, Petitioner raises Magwood again to argue that entry of the March 2017 “amended judgment” removes the successive petition bar. Dkt. #56 at 5 (citing Magwood v. Patterson, 561 U.S. 320 (2010)). This Court previously explained why Magwood was inapplicable, given that the March 2017 order was not an amended judgment and made no modification to the underlying conviction or sentence imposed. Dkt. #43 at 2; see also Dkt. #29 at 4-5 (“In Magwood, the judgment was amended after the petitioner was granted federal ...


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