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LEWIS v. DRISKELL

March 24, 1994

THOMAS LEWIS
v.
JOE DRISKELL, WARDEN



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN T. NIXON

 Pending before the Court is petitioner's Motion For Reconsideration Or Motion To Alter Or Amend Judgment Dismissing Habeas Corpus Petition (Doc. No. 7), filed on August 9, 1993. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants petitioner's Motion.

 I. BACKGROUND

 Petitioner Thomas Lewis is an inmate at South Central Correctional Center ["SCCC"] in Clifton, Tennessee. On October 6, 1992, Mr. Lewis filed this action against Joe Driskell, former warden of SCCC, seeking a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

 The facts giving rise to Mr. Lewis' petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus are straightforward. On July 2, 1984, Mr. Lewis was given a sentence of thirty (30) years for an offense which occurred on April 26, 1983. At the time of Mr. Lewis' sentencing, he was required to serve thirty percent (30%) of his sentence before he would become eligible for parole consideration.

 On February 15, 1989, the Tennessee Department of Correction ["TDOC"] enacted TDOC Administrative Policy and Procedure Number 502.02 ["Policy No. 502.02"], providing that the release eligibility date of any prisoner could be extended if, among other things, the Prison Disciplinary Board found the prisoner guilty of assault. On April 30, 1990, a disciplinary board at the Nashville Community Service Center found Mr. Lewis guilty of assault and extended Mr. Lewis' parole eligibility date an additional thirty percent (30%), thus requiring Mr. Lewis to serve sixty percent (60%) of his sentence before he would become eligible for parole.

 On April 22, 1991, Mr. Lewis filed an action before this Court styled Lewis v. Driskell, No. 3:91-0297, challenging the imposition on him of TDOC Policy No. 502.02 as a violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution, as enforced through 42 U.S.C. § 1983. By Order entered on September 15, 1992, this Court dismissed Mr. Lewis' § 1983 claim, and instructed Mr. Lewis that he must seek relief from the imposition of TDOC policy No. 502.02 by filing a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

 Accordingly, on October 6, 1992, Mr. Lewis filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. By Order entered on July 29, 1993 (Doc. No. 6), this Court dismissed Mr. Lewis' Petition for failure to exhaust state court remedies. On August 9, 1993, Mr. Lewis filed the instant Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. No. 7). Mr. Lewis argues that he has exhausted state court remedies by receiving a judgment on his claim in a class action lawsuit filed in state court, styled Green v. T.D.O.C., Commissioner Jeff Reynolds, Davidson County No. 90-4091-III, Appeal No. 01-A-01-9110-CH-00352. (Mot. Recons., Doc. No. 7, at 2.)

 II. DISCUSSION

 A. Standard of Review

 Motions to reconsider are treated as motions to alter or amend a judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e). McDowell v. Dynamics Corp. of Am., 931 F.2d 380, 382 (6th Cir. 1991). Rule 59(e) provides that "[a] motion to alter or amend the judgment shall be served not later than 10 days after entry of the judgment." Granting or denying a Rule 59(e) motion is within the informed discretion of the district court. Huff v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 675 F.2d 119, 122 (6th Cir. 1982).

 In the present case, Mr. Lewis filed his Motion to Reconsider within the requisite ten days of the Court's Order dismissing his Complaint. Because Mr. Lewis has complied with Rule 59(e) in filing his Motion within ten days of the Court's decision, the Court may now address Mr. Lewis' Motion For Reconsideration on the merits.

 B. Exhaustion of State Remedies

 Mr. Lewis argues that the Court must reconsider its Order dismissing his Petition on the grounds that he has exhausted state remedies. However, upon reviewing the file in this action, the Court finds that the fundamental issue underlying Mr. Lewis' Motion is whether Mr. Lewis' claim must be ...


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