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Turner v. Cassady

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

March 6, 2017

BILLY RAY TURNER, JR., Petitioner,
v.
JAY CASSADY, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          E. RICHARD WEBBER SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court upon Petitioner's Motion to Vacate Order Denying Writ of Habeas Corpus or in the Alternative Issue a Certificate of Appealability, and Request for Leave to Take Depositions Pending the Above Motions [ECF No. 114]; Motion to Vacate Judgment [ECF No. 115]; Motion for Leave to Appeal in forma pauperis [ECF No. 117]; Motion to Reconsider Denial of Writ Of Habeas Corpus [ECF No. 119]; Motion to Strike the State's Response [ECF No. 125]; and, Response in Opposition to the State's Response, Motion to Strike State's Response, and Motion to Reconsider or Grant a Certificate of Appealability [ECF No. 127].

         I. BACKGROUND

         On December 9, 2013, Petitioner Billy Ray Turner, Jr., an inmate currently housed at the Jefferson City Correctional Center (JCCC), filed a Petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody. The matter was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Nannette Baker, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Petitioner filed an amended petition on January 2, 2014, in which he alleged six grounds entitling him to relief.

         After filing his amended petition, Petitioner proceeded to file several motions with the Court, alleging, inter alia, the JCCC was improperly withholding mail from him containing evidence victim recanted. The Court denied relief as Petitioner failed to show any merit to his allegation the mail had been improperly withheld [ECF No. 34]. The Court also denied relief as Petitioner had not exhausted his administrative remedies. Petitioner appealed the Court's ruling. He requested and was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis on his appeal. The United States Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of this Court.

         Petitioner also filed a “Motion for Leave to File a Motion ex Parte.” In his Motion, Petitioner claimed the state confiscated a DVD, allegedly containing exculpatory evidence of victim recanting to Petitioner's friend. Petitioner sought various forms of extraordinary relief, including issuing protective orders against the State and ordering the U.S. Marshals to seize the DVD and place victim and Petitioner's friend into protective custody. The Court denied relief as Petitioner failed to provide detail demonstrating the Court had the authority to secure the requested relief from the State.

         On November 10, 2015, Magistrate Baker recommended the amended petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and any motion by Petitioner for a Certificate of Appealability be denied. In response to the Report and Recommendation, Petitioner filed over fifteen motions. This Court held a hearing to resolve the motions. The Court denied the motions, and further instructed Petitioner to file any remaining arguments in his objections to the Report and Recommendation. Petitioner subsequently filed a “Petitioner's Compliance with Court Order to File exceptions to the United States Magistrates Recommendations, ” which the Court interpreted as his objections to the Report and Recommendation.

         On July 25, 2016, this Court sustained, adopted and incorporated the Report and Recommendation and dismissed Petitioner's amended petition with prejudice [ECF Nos. 112 and 113]. Petitioner subsequently filed a Notice of Appeal and again motioned the Court for Leave to Appeal in forma pauperis [ECF No. 117]. In addition, Petitioner proceeded to file five separate motions challenging this Court's order and judgment. First, Petitioner filed a Motion to Vacate Order Denying Writ of Habeas Corpus or in the Alternative Issue a Certificate of Appealability, and Request for Leave to Take Depositions Pending the Above Motions [ECF No. 114]. On the same day, Petitioner filed a corresponding Motion to Vacate the Court's Judgment dismissing his amended petition [ECF No. 115]. On August 22, 2016, Petitioner filed yet another Motion to Reconsider this Court's order and judgment dismissing his petition [ECF No. 119].

         On September 14, 2016, the Court noted the State had failed to respond to Petitioner's pending Motions. The Court ordered the State to show cause why Petitioner's Motions should not be granted. Petitioner then motioned the Court to strike any forthcoming response filed by the State based upon the State's delays [ECF No. 125]. Shortly thereafter, the State filed a Response in Opposition and argued Petitioner's Motions should be denied. Petitioner in turn filed a Response in Opposition to the State's Response, renewed his Motion to strike the State's Response, and again asked the Court to reconsider its order and judgment dismissing his writ, or, in the alternative, to grant a Certificate of Appealability [ECF No. 127].

         In the above Motions, Petitioner raises the following issues: he declares the Magistrate Judge was biased and improperly heard the case; he reasserts allegations of evidence (mailed affidavits and a DVD) the victim recanted and seeks to depose the Attorney General and JCCC mail room clerks; he disputes this Court's dismissal of his ineffective assistance of counsel claim for failure to raise the corroboration rule at his 491 hearing;[1] and, he seeks access to medical records of victim.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Petitioner has five motions pending before the Court challenging the Court's July 25, 2016 Order and Judgment. Petitioner requests the Court reconsider and vacate its dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. A “motion to reconsider” is not explicitly contemplated by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Elder-Keep v. Aksamit, 460 F.3d 979, 984 (8th Cir. 2006). Typically, courts construe a motion to reconsider as a motion to alter or amend judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), or as a motion for relief from a final judgment, order, or a proceeding under Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). Broadway v. Norris, 193 F.3d 987, 989 (8th Cir. 1999). Rule 59(e) allows a court to alter or amend a judgment upon a motion filed no later than 28 days after entry of the judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). “[T]he Rule was adopted to make clear the district court possesses the power to rectify its own mistakes in the period immediately following the entry of judgment.” White v. N.H. Dep't of Employment Sec., 455 U.S. 445, 450 (1982) (internal quotations and alterations omitted).

         A district court enjoys broad discretion in determining whether to grant or deny a Rule 59(e) motion. United States v. Metro. St. Louis Sewer Dist., 440 F.3d 930, 933 (8th Cir. 2006) (internal citations omitted). “Rule 59(e) motions serve the limited function of correcting manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.” Id. (internal citations omitted). “Such motions cannot be used to introduce new evidence, tender new legal theories, or raise arguments which could have been offered or raised prior to entry of judgment.” Id.

         After careful consideration, the Court finds there was no manifest error of law or fact, or newly discovered evidence. Furthermore, Petitioner's present Motions do not raise any issues this Court has not already fully considered. Petitioner reasserts arguments and contentions previously rejected by the Court in its July 25, 2016 Order and Memorandum. In that order, the Court engaged in a lengthy analysis and gave a detailed explanation of its reasons for dismissal. The purpose of this analysis and explanation was to attempt to demonstrate to Petitioner the grounds for relief set forth in his petition were thoroughly and genuinely considered by this Court. However, despite this ...


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