United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
A. VARLAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
criminal case is before the Court on defendant's pro
se motion for relief from final judgment under Rule
60(b)(1) and (b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
[Doc. 268]. Defendant seeks relief from his convictions,
alleging that they were based on fraud, misrepresentation, or
misconduct by the government-arguments the Court has
addressed several times before [see Docs. 199, 257,
285]. Defendant also, again, requests an evidentiary hearing
and asks the Court to impose sanctions on counsel for the
government. For the reasons stated below, defendant's
motion will be denied.
was convicted by jury trial on February 14, 2017 of numerous
crimes, including but not limited to conspiracy to commit
robbery and extortion, possession of a firearm in furtherance
of the conspiracy, and attempt to commit bank extortion [Doc.
143]. Defendant then filed a post-verdict motion for new
trial [Doc. 169] based on alleged prosecutorial-misconduct,
which the Court denied [Doc. 199]. The Sixth Circuit affirmed
defendant's convictions on appeal. United States v.
Benanti, 755 Fed.Appx. 556 (6th Cir. 2018), cert
denied, 139 S.Ct. 1645 (2019). Specifically addressing
defendant's prosecutorial-misconduct allegations, the
court found that “the record contradict[ed] some of
Benanti's assertions, ” that any new evidence was
“speculative, ” and that “the alleged
misconduct [was] unlikely to have affected [the] trial's
outcome.” Id. Accordingly, the court held that
this Court did not abuse its discretion by denying
defendant's motion for new trial. Id.
interim, defendant also filed a motion for ruling on the
motion for new trial [Doc. 256] and a motion for
reconsideration [Doc. 259], again alleging
prosecutorial-misconduct-both of which the Court
denied-before filing the instant motion under Rule 60(b).
Defendant now asks this Court to again consider his
prosecutorial-misconduct claim in the “proper
vehicle” of a 60(b) motion.
Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) allows a civil litigant the
opportunity to seek relief from a final judgment under
certain circumstances. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b).
The applicability of Rule 60 is limited, however, to civil
cases and thus “may not be used to disturb a criminal
sentence or conviction.” United States v.
Gibson, 424 Fed.Appx. 461, 464 (6th Cir. 2011)
(citations omitted). Additionally, a Rule 60(b) motion where
the movant attempts to use such motion to relitigate the
merits of a claim must be denied. United States v.
Stone, 68 Fed.Appx. 563, 565 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing
Mastini v. American Tel. & Tel. Co., 369 F.2d
378, 379 (2d. Cir. 1966)).
defendant seeks to use a Rule 60(b) motion to vacate his
conviction while attempting to relitigate the merits of his
prosecutorial-misconduct claim. In fact, defendant admits he
“raised most of the issues presented here in his Rule
33 motion for a new trial” [Doc. 268, p. 7]. The Court
declines, once again, to address these arguments.
proper vehicle for attempting to vacate a conviction would be
a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under
28 U.S.C. § 2255. To the extent defendant attempts to
“add a new ground for relief” in the instant
motion, the Court could construe defendant's motion as
one under § 2255. See In re Nailor, 487 F.3d
1018, 1022 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Gonzalez v.
Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 532 (2005)). However, defendant
has specifically requested that this Court refrain from
interpreting his Rule 60(b) motion as a motion under §
2255 [Doc. 281]. Therefore, the Court declines to interpret
the instant motion in that way.
the hearing requested by defendant, neither the local rules
of this Court nor the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
provide for a hearing on a Rule 60(b) motion as a matter of
right. See, e.g., Buck v. U.S. Dep't of Agric.
Farmers Home Admin., 960 F.2d 603, 609 (6th Cir. 1992).
This is especially true here, given the inapplicability of
that civil rule and the fact that a hearing would not resolve
any factual disputes. See id. Accordingly, the Court
declines to hold an evidentiary hearing on defendant's
motion for relief from a final judgment and request for an
evidentiary hearing [Doc. 268] is DENIED.
Defendant's motion to reserve his ...