United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division
ORDER DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION TO ALTER OR
DANIEL BREEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
August 29, 2017, Petitioner, Stephen Hugueley, through
counsel, filed a motion to alter or amend judgment, pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), seeking relief from
the Court's orders dated August 3 and 9, 2017 (Docket
Entry (“D.E.”) 144; D.E. 145). (D.E. 147 at
PageID 7842.) On September 21, 2017, Respondent filed a
response. (D.E. 152.) Hugueley's motion is DENIED for
failure to satisfy the requirements of Rule 59.
motion filed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) allows a court to
alter or amend a judgment. “The purpose of Rule 59(e)
is to allow the district court ‘to correct its own
errors, sparing the parties and appellate courts the burden
of unnecessary appellate proceedings.'” Howard
v. United States, 533 F.3d 472, 475 (6th Cir. 2008)
(quoting York v. Tate, 858 F.2d 322, 326 (6th Cir.
1988)). “To grant a motion filed pursuant to Rule 59(e)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, there must be
‘(1) a clear error of law; (2) newly discovered
evidence; (3) an intervening change in controlling law; or
(4) a need to prevent manifest injustice.” Betts v.
Costco Wholesale Corp., 558 F.3d 461, 474 (6th Cir.
2009) (quoting Henderson v. Walled Lake Consol.
Schs., 469 F.3d 479, 496 (6th Cir. 2006)). The Sixth
Circuit has “repeatedly held” that “Rule
59(e) motions cannot be used to present new arguments that
could have been raised prior to judgment.” See
Howard, 533 F.3d at 475 (citation omitted). “Rule
59(e) allows for reconsideration; it does not permit parties
to effectively ‘re-argue a case.'”
Id. (quoting Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa
Indians v. Engler, 146 F.3d 367, 374 (6th Cir. 1998)). A
motion to alter or amend is an “extraordinary
remedy” that should be granted “sparingly.”
Cole v. Lester, No. 3:12-cv-00704, 2015 WL 1650275,
at *1 (M.D. Tenn. Apr. 14, 2015). “The grant or denial
of a Rule 59(e) motion is within the informed discretion of
the district court . . . .” Betts, 558 F.3d at
467 (quoting Scotts Co. v. Central Garden & Pet
Co., 403 F.3d 781, 788 (6th Cir. 2005), abrogated on
other grounds by Allied Indus. Scrap, Inc. v. OmniSource
Corp., 776 F.3d 452 (6th Cir. 2015)).
alleged that the State violated Batson v. Kentucky,
476 U.S. 79 (1986), in the race-based striking of potential
jurors Hudson, Gibbs, Pirtle, and Prewitt and requests that
the Court alter or amend its orders with regard to these
Batson claims. (D.E. 147 at PageID 7842; D.E. 58 at
PageID 4663-64.) He asserts that the Court should grant an
evidentiary hearing on the procedurally defaulted
Batson claims and grant de novo review on
the Pruitt claim. (D.E. 147 at PageID 7843.) In the
alternative, Hugueley contends that the Court should amend
its judgment to grant a certificate of appealability
(“COA”) on these claims. (Id. at PageID
Hudson, Gibbs, and Pirtle
did not object at trial to the removal of prospective jurors
Hudson, Gibbs, and Pirtle based on Batson. See
State v. Hugueley, 185 S.W.3d 356, 369 (Tenn. 2006). On
direct appeal, the Tennessee Supreme Court determined that
the claims were waived under Tenn. R. App. P. 36(a).
Id. Rule 36(a) states that “[n]othing in this
rule shall be construed as requiring relief be granted to a
party responsible for an error or who failed to take whatever
action was reasonably available to prevent or nullify the
harmful effect of an error.” This Court determined that
the claim was procedurally barred from review and denied
habeas relief. (See D.E. 144 at PageID 7736-41.)
argues that the Court made a “clear error of
law.” (D.E. 147 at PageID 7843.) He contends that there
is a well-recognized exception to Tennessee's waiver rule
in capital cases and that waiver is not an adequate and
independent state law ground that bars the merits review of
this claim. (D.E. 147 at PageID 7843-45.) Hugueley relies on
State v. Rimmer, 250 S.W.3d 12, 32 (Tenn. 2008), for
the assertion that there is an exception to the waiver
doctrine in capital cases. (Id. at PageID 7844-45.)
He cites State v. Duncan, 698 S.W.2d 63, 67-68
(Tenn. 1985), and State v. Martin, 702 S.W.2d 560,
564 (Tenn. 1985),  for the argument that
“non-waiver” exists in capital cases.
(Id. at PageID 7845.) Duncan and
Martin address the admissibility or suppression of
evidence at trial and jury instructions, not Batson.
insists that he did not violate a clearly established,
regularly applied state procedural rule by raising these
Batson challenges for the first time on appeal.
(Id. at PageID 7844.) He contends that this Court
overlooked the “laundry list” of cases where the
Tennessee Supreme Court addressed claims on the merits
despite the fact that those claims were not raised in the
trial court. (Id. at PageID 7845-46.) Hugueley
states that he need not show that the exception was applied
consistently, but only that the exception is “not
‘firmly established and regularly followed.'”
(Id. (quoting Parker v. Bagley, 543 F.3d
859, 861 (6th Cir. 2008)).)
made the same argument in his response to the motion for
summary judgment. (See D.E. 127 at PageID 5667-73.)
Rule 59(e) “does not afford parties an opportunity to
reargue their case.” Leisure Caviar, LLC v. U.S.
Fish & Wildlife Serv., 616 F.3d 612, 615 (6th Cir.
argues that, even if Tennessee's
contemporaneous-objection rule is discretionary in capital
cases, a discretionary rule may still be firmly established
and regularly followed for purposes of barring habeas review.
(D.E. 152 at PageID 7875-76.)
Tennessee Supreme Court stated that “Rules 13(b) and
36(a) of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure,
considered together, give appellate courts considerable
discretion to consider issues that have not been properly
presented in order to achieve fairness and justice.”
In re Kaliyah S., 455 S.W.3d 533, 540 (Tenn. 2015).
The Tennessee Supreme Court also held that “[i]n an
ordinary, non-capital criminal case, arguments not first
raised in the trial court are waived on appeal.”
State v. Willis, 496 S.W.3d 653, 707 (Tenn. 2016),
cert. denied, 137 S.Ct. 1224 (2017). In
Stephenson, the Tennessee Supreme Court noted that
the General Assembly did not contemplate that the doctrine of
waiver should not apply at capital sentencing. State v.
Stephenson, 195 S.W.3d 574, 592 (Tenn. 2006),
abrogated on other grounds by State v. Watkins, 362
S.W.3d 530 (Tenn. 2012). The Tennessee Court of Criminal
Appeals in Lewis ruled that “failure to object
to a Batson issue prior to the swearing of the jury
results in waiver of the issue on direct appeal.”
Lewis v. State, No. W2015-01249-CCA-R3P-C, 2016 WL
7654956, at *13 (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 21, 2016), cert.
denied (Tenn. Jan. 20, 2017); see Johnson v.
State, No. 02C01-9707-CR-00292, 1999 WL 608861, at
*13-14 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 12, 1999) (waiver of
Batson claim in a capital case by raising issue for
the first time on direct appeal); cf. State v.
Godwin, No. W2013-01602-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 895497, at
*9-10 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 6, 2014) (although inclined to
invoke waiver due to defense counsel's failure to make a
contemporaneous objection or argument, the appellate court
reviewed the merits of the Batson claim because the
trial court proactively raised the Batson issue
sua sponte and reviewed the race-neutral reasons for
the strikes, thus creating an “understanding”
that the court had ruled on the Batson claims).
Tennessee courts have found waiver of other types of claims
in capital cases besides Batson issues for failure
to object to them at trial. See, e.g., State v.
Henretta, 325 S.W.3d 112, 125 (Tenn. 2010) (failure to
object to prosecutor's argument at capital sentencing
hearing resulted in waiver on appeal); State v.
Howell, 868 S.W.2d 238, 254 (Tenn. 1993) (based on Tenn.
R. App. P. 36(a), the court waived a trial court error claim
about redaction of preliminary hearing testimony that was not
raised until the motion for new trial).
shown here and in the Court's August 3, 2017 order, the
purported exception to the waiver doctrine in capital cases
has not been applied consistently. A discretionary state
procedural rule like Tenn. R. App. P. 36(a) is as an adequate
ground to bar federal habeas review. See Beard v.
Kindler, 558 U.S. 53, 60-61 (2009); Stone v.
Moore, 644 F.3d 342, 345 (6th Cir. 2011) (“even
wholly discretionary state procedural rules may constitute
adequate state grounds for foreclosing federal review of a
habeas claim”). Hugueley has not ...