United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
JORDAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
19, 2015, pursuant to his negotiated plea agreement, Curtis
Coleman (“Petitioner”) pled guilty to conspiracy
to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base
(“crack”), in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§
846 and 841(b)(1)(A) [Docs. 35, 39]. The Court accepted the
guilty plea and referred the matter to the United States
Probation Office for a Presentence Investigation Report
(“PSR”) [Doc. 56, sealed]. Agreeing with the
probation officer's determination that Petitioner was a
career offender under Section 4B1.1 of the United States
Sentencing Guidelines [Id.], the Court sentenced him
on August 20, 2015, to 150 months' imprisonment and five
years' supervised release [Doc. 73]. Petitioner did not
file a direct appeal, but almost four months later-on
December 14, 2015-he brought a motion to vacate, set aside,
or correct his sentence, under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [Doc.
92], and four days later, a timely amended § 2255 motion
that supplanted the original motion [Doc. 93].
United States responded in opposition to Petitioner's
§ 2255 motion [Doc. 104], arguing that none of his
claims provide any basis upon which relief may be granted.
Petitioner's § 2255 motion is ripe for review, but
also ripe for review are two later motions filed by
Petitioner- to which the Court turns first.
MOTION TO AMEND
has submitted a motion to amend his § 2255 motion [Doc.
126], his fourth such filing. Petitioner's previous
motions to amend [Docs. 118-120], all seeking to assert a
claim based on Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct.
2246 (2016), were denied as futile because Mathis
does not apply retroactively on collateral review and because
the claim was barred by § 2255(f)'s one-year statute
of limitation [Doc. 121]. Likewise denied was
Petitioner's request to reconsider the denial of his
motions to amend [Docs. 122-123]. There followed the pending
motion to amend, in which Petitioner's advances what the
Court understands to be an equitable tolling argument to save
his untimely Mathis claim [Doc. 126].
one-year statute of limitations in AEDPA is not
jurisdictional and is subject to equitable tolling.
Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 645 (2010). A
petitioner is “‘entitled to equitable
tolling' only if he shows ‘(1) that he has been
pursuing his rights diligently, and (2) that some
extraordinary circumstance stood in his way' and
prevented timely filing.” Ata v. Scutt, 662
F.3d 736, 741 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Holland, 560
U.S. at 649). A petitioner bears the burden of showing that
he is entitled to equitable tolling. Pace v.
DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408, 418 (2005); accord
Griffin v. Rogers, 308 F.3d 647, 653 (6th Cir. 2002).
maintains that, following his sentencing, he was in transit,
temporarily housed in various correctional facilities for a
short periods of time, and did not have access to his legal
paperwork for almost five months of the one-year period in
which to file amendments to his motion to vacate. Petitioner
asks the Court to consider that his proposed
Mathis-based claim was only two months late.
However, the Sixth Circuit has instructed that,
“[a]bsent compelling equitable considerations, a court
should not extend limitations by even a single day.”
Graham-Humphreys v. Memphis Brooks Museum of Art,
Inc., 209 F.3d 552, 561 (6th Cir. 2000) (citation
omitted); cf., Vroman v. Brigano, 346 F.3d 598, 605
(6th Cir. 2003) (noting that the equitable tolling calculus
focuses on more than one year and rejecting a
petitioner's argument that his state court filing was one
reviewing the record, the Court finds no extraordinary
circumstance. Petitioner submitted numerous, timely filings
to the Court during the one-year period established in §
2255(f)(1) (providing that the one-year period begins to run
upon conclusion of direct appeal). For example, Petitioner
was able to file an original § 2255 motion and an
amended § 2255 motion after the one-year clock for
filing a motion to vacate had ticked, respectively, for 102
days and 106 days [Docs. 92-93]. On day 130 of §
2255(f)(1)'s one-year clock, following Petitioner's
transfer to a federal prison in Manchester, Kentucky, he
filed a notice that his address had changed [Doc. 102]. By
the time the clock had run for 266 days, Petitioner had filed
three more motions, including: (1) a motion for a sentence
reduction, under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and Amendments
782 and 788 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines Manual
[Doc. 103]; (2) a motion to amend his § 2255 motion
[Doc. 107]; and (3) a motion for approval to correspond with
his co-defendant [Doc. 111].
Court has previously held, the § 2255(f)(1) one-year
period expired in Petitioner's case on September 3, 2016
[Doc. 121]. Despite Petitioner's many submissions, the
record does not reflect that Petitioner sought to add a
timely claim under the ruling in Mathis, although
that decision was issued on June 23, 2016, and although he
had until September 3, 2016, within which to file a timely
§ 2255 claim, in reliance on that decision. Indeed, it
was not until 72 days after the lapse of §
2255(f)(1)'s one-year period that Petitioner notified the
Court of his transfer from the federal prison in Manchester,
Kentucky, to a federal medical center in Lexington, Kentucky
[Doc. 116, Notice of Address Change, filed Nov. 14, 2016].
Thus, the record before the Court suggests that Petitioner
remained incarcerated in the same federal prison from June
23rd to September 3rd of 2016, during which time he could
have moved the Court for permission to add a Mathis
Court finds that Petitioner has failed to show an
extraordinary circumstance and, accordingly,
DENIES his motion to equitably toll §
2255(f)(1)'s limitations period [Doc. 126]. United
States v. Marcello, 212 F.3d 1005, 1010 (7th Cir. 2000)
(observing that “the threshold necessary to trigger
equitable tolling is very high, lest the exceptions swallow
the rule”); see also Graham-Humphreys v. Memphis
Brooks Museum of Art, Inc., 209 F.3d 552, 561 (6th Cir.
2000) (“Absent compelling equitable considerations, a
court should not extend limitations by even a single
day.”); Portman v. Wilson, No. 10-CV-169-KSF,
2010 WL 4962922, at *2 (E.D. Ky. Dec. 1, 2010) (“It is
well settled that . . . the frustrations of typical prison
conditions that make prison-based litigation difficult, such
as transfers [and] lack of access to copies and legal
materials, do not constitute exceptional circumstances
justifying equitable tolling.”) (citing cases).
MOTION TO RECONSIDER
Petitioner moves the Court to reconsider its prior order
denying his motion to reconsider the denial of his motions to
amend his amended § 2255 motion [Doc. 129]. Petitioner
recognizes that his motion is not “the proper
procedure, ” but he, nonetheless, appeals to this
Court's “humanity, ” suggesting that
circumstances existing in his case (i.e., the short duration
of his prior criminal conduct-spanning only 2-3 years, as
well as his good deeds, accomplishments, and personal
background, added to the five months of §
2255(f)(1)'s one-year limitations statute that were spent
being transferred to different prisons) deserve to be
considered in any time-bar determination [Id.].
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not recognize motions to
reconsider, Smith v. Hudson, 600 F.2d 60, 62 (6th
Cir. 1979), but in this circuit, a court may view such a
motion, if filed beyond the 28-day period authorized for
filing a Rule 59(e) motion, as Rule 60(b) motion for relief
from a judgment. Feathers v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc.,
141 F.3d 264, 268 (6th Cir. 1998); see also Kitts v.
United States, No. 2:11-CR-58-JRG-2, 2017 WL 5560173, at
*2 (E.D. Tenn. Nov. 17, 2017) (citing Feathers, 141
F.3d at 268). It is proper to apply Rule 60(b) to § 2255
motions. United States v. Gibson, 424 Fed.Appx. 461,
464 (6th Cir. 2011) (citing Gonzales v. Crosby, 545
U.S. 524, 529 (2005), and In re Nailor, 487 F.3d
1018, 1021(6th Cir. 2007)).
60(b) permits a district court to grant relief from a final
judgment for several reasons, such as mistake, inadvertence,
surprise, excusable neglect, newly discovered evidence,
fraud, misrepresentation, misconduct, a void judgment, or for
“any other reason that justifies relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1)-(b)(6). A Rule 60(b) motion
“attacks, not the substance of the federal court's
resolution of a claim on the merits, but some defect in the
integrity of the federal habeas proceedings.”
Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 532.
order from which Petitioner requests relief, the Court denied
his Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend judgment (as
construed) [Doc. 123]. The Court has reviewed the challenged
order and is convinced that it thoroughly addressed each
argument presented by Petitioner, correctly applied the
relevant procedural rules and substantive law, and reasonably
rejected his Rule 59(e) motion [Id.]. More
important, Petitioner has not alleged any of the specific
reasons that would justify relief under Rule 60(b)(1)-(b)(5).
extent that Petitioner's motion is based on Rule
(60)(b)(6) (predicating relief on “any other reason
that justifies relief”), then Gonzalez
requires “a movant seeking relief under Rule 60(b)(6)
to show ‘extraordinary circumstances' justifying
the reopening of a final judgment.” Gonzales,
545 U.S. at 535 (citations omitted). None of Petitioner's
arguments as to his good deeds, personal background,
achievements, or the brevity of the period of his criminal
escapades, as iterated in his Rule 60(b) motion, constitutes
an extraordinary circumstance. Id. at 535
(explaining that extraordinary circumstances “rarely
occur in the habeas context”). The circumstances
presented by Petitioner, though commendable, are
run-of-the-mill circumstances in many cases involving federal
criminal defendants. Furthermore, the Court has already
addressed and rejected Petitioner's claim that his
frequent transfers between prisons for five months of the
one-year limitations period justifies equitable tolling.
See Miller v. Mays, 879 F.3d 691, 698 (6th Cir.
2018) (noting the existence of equitable principles
underlying Rule 60(b)(6)).
on the above reasoning, Petitioner's Rule 60(b) motion,
as construed [Doc. 129] is DENIED.
MOTION TO VACATE
last motion is Petitioner's amended motion to vacate, set
aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255
[Doc. 93]. The United States responded in opposition [Doc.
104]. Petitioner did not file a reply to the Government's
response. For the reasons discussed below, all claims in
Petitioner's § 2255 motion, save one, will be
DISMISSED and that single claim will proceed
to an evidentiary hearing.