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United States v. Jarnigan

July 25, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Varlan / Shirley


All pretrial motions in this case have been referred to the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) for disposition or report and recommendation regarding disposition by the District Court as may be appropriate. This matter is before the undersigned for disposition of the government's Motion for Reconsideration of Report and Recommendation and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 37 and 42], filed June 19, 2008. Defendant Jarnigan filed a Memorandum in Opposition [Doc. 43] on July 2, 2008. Accordingly, this matter is ripe for adjudication and the pending motion is addressed herein, a hearing being unnecessary for its disposition.

I. Procedural Posture

On June 11, 2008, the undersigned entered a Report and Recommendation [Doc. 36] denying Defendant Jarnigan's Motion to Suppress Evidence [Doc. 15]. The thirty-nine page Report and Recommendation resulted from two evidentiary hearings on this matter. On April 16, 2008, the Court held its initial evidentiary hearing in which the government offered testimony from Officer James Lockmiller of the Knoxville Police Department and the defense offered testimony from Ronnie Davis, a resident of Knox County. Officer Lockmiller and Mr. Davis testified about the events in question on December 31, 2007, the night Defendant Jarnigan was arrested by the KPD. After the conclusion of the hearing, the government filed a motion requesting to re-open the suppression hearing, "for the limited purpose of allowing two additional KPD officers to testify on the issue of the 911 complainant identifying the vandalism suspect" [Doc. 23 at 1]. The Court granted the government's request [Doc. 30], and thus, a subsequent evidentiary hearing was held on May 15, 2008. The government called two witnesses, Officer John Stevens and Officer Caleb Crothers, both officers with the KPD. Defendant did not call any witnesses. As stated above, the Report and Recommendation currently at issue was entered on June 11, 2008. Although the government ultimately prevailed on Defendant's motion to suppress since the undersigned recommended denying Defendant's motion, the government, nevertheless, filed the pending Motion for Reconsideration, asking the Court to reconsider certain factual and credibility findings made in the June 11 Report and Recommendation.

II. Analysis

The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure make no provision for a motion to reconsider. Courts adjudicating motions to reconsider in criminal cases typically evaluate such motions under the same standards applicable to a civil motion to alter or amend judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). See United States v. Titterington, 2003 WL 23924932 at *1 (W.D. Tenn. May 22, 2003). A motion to alter or amend judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) may be made for one of three reasons:

1) An intervening change of controlling law;

2) Evidence not previously available has become available; or

3) It is necessary to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice.

Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e); Helton v. ACS Group, 964 F.Supp. 1175, 1182 (E.D. Tenn. 1997). Rule 59(e) is not intended to be used to "relitigate issues previously considered" or to "submit evidence which in the exercise of reasonable diligence, could have been submitted before." Id. at 1182. When a movant offers "essentially the same arguments presented on the original motion, the proper vehicle for relief is an appeal." Id. (citing Keweenaw Bay Indian Community v. State of Michigan, 152 F.R.D. 562, 563 (W.D.Mich. 1992), aff'd 11 F.3d 1341 (6th Cir. 1993)). Thus, there are limited circumstances in which a court may grant a motion for reconsideration. In fact, the Supreme Court stated that Congress' intent in adopting Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) "had a clear and narrow aim." White v. N.H. Dept. of Employment Sec., 455 U.S. 445, 450 (1982). The aim was to empower district courts "to rectify [their] own mistakes in the period immediately following the entry of judgment." Id.

The government, in asking this Court to reconsider its Report and Recommendation, does not allege that the June 11 Report and Recommendation is invalid because a change in controlling law has occurred or evidence not previously available has become available for the Court's review. Instead, the government states that the Report and Recommendation "contains findings of fact and language ... which are of concern to the United States" [Doc. 42 at 1]. This proffered "reason" is insufficient as a basis for reconsideration. Only if this Court assumed, that such "reason" constituted a contention that reconsideration is "necessary to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice" would there even be a basis for reconsideration. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). However, even assuming such contention was made, the Court does not find it to be well taken.

The government requests this Court "modify the language in the Findings of Fact and Credibility Analysis contained in the Report and Recommendation" [Doc. 42 at 1]. Specifically, the government takes issue with the following language:

In regard to Mr. Davis's and Officer Lockmiller's testimony, this Court finds it is unable to accept either testimony as preponderating over the other. Neither sufficiently impeached, but neither testimony, on this issue was corroborated either. ... As to Officer Lockmiller's testimony, the Court finds it is inconsistent with the testimony given by Officers Stevens and Crothers, which established that Ms.

Matthews, not Mr. Davis, identified Defendant as the vandalism suspect. Accordingly, the Court finds the testimony given by Officers Stevens and Crothers credible, was corroborated by each other's testimony as well as the other evidence in the record, and not impeached by other evidence in the record. [Doc. 36 at 28-29]. The government believes this language "could be interpreted as impugning Officer Lockmiller's integrity and credibility" [Doc. 42 at 3] (emphasis supplied). As a preliminary matter, the Court notes the government failed to provide any proposed modifications, instead, asking the Court to now find ...

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