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Weeks v. Lewis

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

March 30, 2017

RUBIN WEEKS, Petitioner,
v.
JASON LEWIS, [1]Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CHARLES A. SHAW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This closed matter is once again before the Court on petitioner's second motion pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for relief from final judgment. In his motion, which was filed pro se, petitioner requests that the Court re-open his § 2254 habeas petition, which was denied in 1995. Twenty-one years later, petitioner argues that he is entitled to relief because this Court's judgment was void in that it was based on a violation of due process that “deprived petitioner of notice and the fair opportunity to be heard, ” and because the state court that entered judgment “acted in manner inconsistent with due process of law.” Doc. 78 at 1. Petitioner moves for relief pursuant to Rule 60(b)(4) and (6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Respondent opposes the motion and argues petitioner is not entitled to the relief he requests because petitioner's motion is nothing more than a successive habeas petition, which this Court is precluded from reviewing pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244. For the following reasons, the Court will deny petitioner's request for relief from final judgment.[2]

         I. Procedural Background

         The Court outlined in detail the procedural history of this case in a Memorandum and Order dated March 5, 2013. Doc. 6. For purposes of the motion presently before the Court, the following events are relevant:

         On February 13, 1992, petitioner pleaded guilty in Missouri state court to kidnaping and rape. At his plea hearing, he admitted to committing the offenses and denied that anyone had threatened or forced him to plead guilty. He also testified that his medication did not affect his ability to plead guilty and, that while he was drowsy, he was clear-headed. Based on his plea, the state court entered a judgment of guilty against him and sentenced him to concurrent sentences of thirty years imprisonment and life imprisonment. Following his plea and sentencing, petitioner did not file a motion pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 24.035.

         On September 9, 1994, petitioner filed a state habeas petition. The state court dismissed the petition on procedural grounds because petitioner had never filed a Rule 24.035 motion. On August 29, 1994, petitioner filed in United States District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, a federal habeas petition, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. This is the above-captioned cause of action. In his § 2254 petition, petitioner alleged four grounds for relief: (1) his arrest in Mississippi was unlawful in that he was refused the right to contact an attorney, and officers in Mississippi hit him in the head causing a concussion; (2) his guilty plea was coerced in that he was beaten by officers in Bollinger County, and these officers withheld his diabetes medication and injected him with mind-altering medication; (3) he was not properly arraigned; and (4) he was improperly sentenced as a repeat offender. Petitioner also claimed that he was innocent of the crimes for which he pleaded guilty.

         On October 27, 1995, the Honorable Lawrence O. Davis denied petitioner's § 2254 petition, holding that petitioner's failure to file a Rule 24.035 motion defaulted his claims. Judge Davis found that petitioner had not shown cause and prejudice or actual innocence to lift the procedural bar. Judgement was entered against petitioner in this case on October 27, 1995.

         Petitioner appealed the denial of his § 2254 habeas petition to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. In an en banc decision, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the denial of petitioner's § 2254 habeas petition. Weeks v. Bowersox, 119 F.3d 1342 (8th Cir. 1997). The Court of Appeals held that petitioner had failed to present sufficient evidence of his actual innocence, and that mere allegations that evidence existed was not enough. Id. at 1346. The Eighth Circuit also held that petitioner was not entitled to a hearing to develop evidence of actual innocence. Id. Petitioner appealed that decision to the United States Supreme Court. Petitioner filed a petition for writ of certiorari, which was denied on January 26, 1997. Weeks v. Bowersox, 522 U.S. 1093 (1998).

         On October 3, 2001, petitioner filed a post-conviction motion for forensic DNA testing in the Circuit Court of Cape Girardeau County, Missouri. The motion was denied, and petitioner appealed. The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed, holding petitioner was not entitled to DNA testing after pleading guilty.

         On August 3, 2004, the Missouri Supreme Court reversed. The Missouri Supreme Court held that post-conviction DNA testing under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 547.035 was available to persons like petitioner who had pleaded guilty. Weeks v. Missouri, 140 S.W.3d 39, 45 (Mo. banc. 2004).

         Pursuant to a court order, the victim's rape kit was submitted for testing. In a report dated November 22, 2004, the Paternity Testing Corporation concluded that sperm collected from the vaginal swab of the victim matched the DNA profile of petitioner. See Doc. 53, Ex. G.

         On September 12, 2011, petitioner filed a motion with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals requesting that the Eighth Circuit recall the mandate in Weeks v. Bowersox, 119 F.3d 1342 (8th Cir. 1997). The Court of Appeals denied petitioner's motion.

         On July 20, 2012, petitioner, who was represented by counsel at the time, filed a motion for relief from final judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in the above-captioned cause of action.[3] Petitioner argued that the judgment should be set aside because: (1) his guilty plea was not freely and voluntarily given because crucial and exculpatory evidence was withheld by the State in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963); (2) his plea was not knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently entered because he was improperly and over-medicated by jail staff; and (3) his plea was not knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently entered because he was suffering from severe head trauma on the date of the guilty plea.

         On March 5, 2013, the undersigned denied petitioner's motion for relief from final judgment. The Court found that all three of plaintiff's reasons for relief from final judgment were in fact “claims” under Ward v. Norris, 577 F.3d 925, 932 (8th Cir. 2009) and, therefore, the motion should be treated as a second or successive habeas petition and dismissed under 28 U.S.C. ยง 2244(b), which limits petitioners from filing successive habeas petitioners in federal court. In the alternative, the Court ruled that petitioner's motion, which fell under Rule 60(b)(2), was time-barred under the one-year statute of limitations. Petitioner appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ...


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