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Montague v. Lee

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville

January 22, 2018

CHARLES MONTAGUE, Petitioner,
v.
RANDY LEE, Warden, [1] Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE GREER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Charles Montague (“Petitioner”) filed a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 seeking to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence entered in his criminal case [Doc. 3], which the Court dismissed on February 12, 2008 [Doc. 58]. Presently before the Court is Petitioner's second motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) requesting relief from judgment [Doc. 79]. For the reasons explained below, Petitioner's motion [Doc. 79] will be DENIED.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY [2]

         This Court previously summarized the procedural history of Petitioner's conviction and state appeal and post-conviction proceedings, stating:

In 1993, [P]etitioner was convicted of first-degree murder by a jury in the Criminal Court for Washington County, Tennessee and sentenced to a life-term in prison. Petitioner was unsuccessful on direct appeal, State v. Montague, No. 03C01- 9306-CR-00192, 1994 WL 652186 (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov. 21, 1994), perm. app. denied (Tenn. 1995); in petitioning for post-conviction relief, State v. Montague, No. E2000-00083-CCA-R3-PC, 2000 WL 949233 (Tenn. Crim. App. July 11, 2000), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Dec. 27, 2000); and in obtaining state habeas corpus relief. [Addendum No. 17, Montague v. State, E2002-0868-CCA-R3-PC (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov. 15, 2002 (unpublished order)].

[Doc. 57 at 2-3].

         Petitioner filed a habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 on March 31, 2003 [Doc. 3]. This Court dismissed the amended § 2254 petition on February 12, 2008, holding that several of Petitioner's claims were procedurally defaulted, and the remaining claims should be dismissed on the merits [Docs. 57; 58]. The Court then found that “reasonable jurists could not disagree with the resolution of these claims, ” and denied a Certificate of Appealability (“COA”) [Doc. 57 p. 43].

         Petitioner filed a motion for relief from judgment [Doc. 68] on February 7, 2014, which this Court denied on May 1, 2014 [Doc. 71]. After Petitioner filed a notice of appeal [Doc. 72], the Court denied Petitioner a COA on May 15, 2014 [Doc. 75]. The Sixth Circuit then denied Petitioner's COA application, along with his § 2244(b) application and all other pending motions, as moot on January 15, 2015 [Doc. 76]. Petitioner filed the present “Motion to Reopen Judgment” [Doc. 79] on August 10, 2017, as well as a memorandum in support of his motion [Doc. 81]. Respondent then filed a response in opposition to Petitioner's Rule 60 motion [Doc. 83].

         II. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)

         On August 10, 2017, Petitioner filed a motion requesting relief from judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [Doc. 79]. Rule 60(b) allows a party to seek relief from a final judgment and request reopening of his case under limited circumstances, including fraud, mistake, and newly discovered evidence. Petitioner is proceeding under Rule 60(b)(6), which provides for relief for “any other reason that justifies relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(6). However, relief under Rule 60(b)(6) “applies only in exceptional and extraordinary circumstances.” Jinks v. Allied Signal, Inc., 250 F.3d 381, 387 (6th Cir. 2001).

         In his motion, Petitioner seeks relief from the Court's order [Doc. 58] dismissing his § 2254 petition. Petitioner claims that the Court applied an incorrect standard in denying the issuance of a COA of its order dismissing his habeas petition [Doc. 79 p. 4]. Additionally, Petitioner argues that he is entitled to relief due to the change in decisional law set forth in Trevino v. Thaler, 133 S.Ct. 1911 (2013); Martinez v. Ryan, 556 U.S. 1 (2012); and Sutton v. Carpenter, 745 F.3d 787 (6th Cir. 2014) [Doc. 81 at 6-7]. Lastly, Petitioner states that the Court failed to rule on several issues set forth in his habeas petition [Id. at 5].

         A. Proper Standard for Denying COA

         Petitioner argues that he is entitled to relief from judgment, as the Court applied an incorrect standard in denying the issuance of a COA of the dismissal of his habeas petition [Doc. 79 p. 4]. Petitioner claims that under Buck v. Davis, 137 S.Ct. 759 (2017), the “district court abused it's [sic] discretion and used an incorrect legal standard” in denying him a COA [Id.]. Therefore, Petitioner alleges that this abuse constitutes an extraordinary circumstance under Rule 60(b)(6) [Id. at 1]. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(c) requires a motion filed pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6) to be filed within a reasonable time after the entry of the judgment or order. Petitioner claims that his Rule 60(b) motion is timely, as it was filed within a year of the Supreme Court's decision in Buck v. Davis, 137 S.Ct. 759 (2017). [Id.].

         Rule 60(b)(6) relief is available only in “exceptional or extraordinary circumstances.” Stokes v. Williams,475 F.3d 732, 735 (6th Cir. 2007). “Such circumstances will rarely occur in the habeas context, ” Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 535 (2005), and do not usually include a change in decisional law, in and of itself. Agostini v. Felton, 521 U.S. 203, 239 (1997); Blue Diamond Coal Co. v. Trustees of the UMWA Combined Benefit Fund, 249 F.3d 519, 524 (6th Cir. 2001). Instead, a change in decisional law must generally be ...


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