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Pouncy v. Palmer

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

January 3, 2018

OMAR RASHAD POUNCY, Petitioner,
v.
CARMEN D. PALMER, Respondent.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT ON PUBLIC TRIAL CLAIM (ECF #165)

          Hon. Matthew F. Leitman, Judge

         On November 12, 2013, Petitioner Omar Rashad Pouncy filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus (the “Petition”). (See ECF #1.) The Petition seeks habeas relief on many different grounds. This Court has already ruled on two of those grounds.

         In an Opinion and Order dated July 20, 2015, the Court denied Pouncy's motion for summary judgment on his claim that the state court violated his Sixth Amendment right to a public trial. (See ECF #58.) In the same order, the Court denied habeas relief on that claim. (Id.)

         In a subsequent Opinion and Order dated January 8, 2016, this Court conditionally granted a writ of habeas corpus on Pouncy's waiver of counsel claim. (See ECF #74.) Also on January 8, 2016, the Court entered judgment in Pouncy's favor. (See ECF #75.) Respondent thereafter appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, but Pouncy did not cross-appeal the denial of habeas relief on his public trial claim. The Sixth Circuit later reversed this Court's grant of habeas relief.

         After the Sixth Circuit's ruling, Pouncy filed a Notice of Appeal from the order denying his public trial claim. (See ECF #149.) Pouncy has now moved the Court to enter final judgment on his public trial claim so that he may pursue his appeal. The Court DENIES the motion.

         Pouncy seeks entry of final judgment under Rule 54(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The rule provides that:

When an action presents more than one claim for relief--whether as a claim, counterclaim, crossclaim, or third-party claim--or when multiple parties are involved, the court may direct entry of a final judgment as to one or more, but fewer than all, claims or parties only if the court expressly determines that there is no just reason for delay. Otherwise, any order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the action as to any of the claims or parties and may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities.

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b).

         The Sixth Circuit has offered the following guidance concerning Rule 54(b):

Although Rule 54(b) relaxes the traditional finality requirement for appellate review, it does not tolerate immediate appeal of every action taken by a district court. The rule is specifically “designed to facilitate the entry of judgment on one or more claims, or as to one or more parties, in a multi-claim/multi-party action.” Solomon v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 782 F.2d 58, 60 (6th Cir.1986).
Rule 54(b) certification requires two independent findings. First, the district court must expressly “direct the entry of final judgment as to one or more but fewer than all the claims or parties” in a case. Second, the district court must “express[ly] determin[e] that there is no just reason” to delay appellate review. Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b) [ ]; Wright, Miller & Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil 2d § 2655 (1983 & Supp.1993) [ ]. A district court certifying an order under Rule 54(b) must clearly explain why it has concluded that immediate review of the challenged ruling is desirable. Solomon, 782 F.2d at 61- 62.

Gen. Acquisition, Inc. v. GenCorp, Inc., 23 F.3d 1022, 1026 (6th Cir. 1994).

         Interlocutory appeals under Rule 54(b) are limited to “‘infrequent harsh case[s].'” Id. at 1027 (quoting Rudd Construction Equip. Co., Inc. v. Home Insurance Co., 711 F.2d 54, 56 (6th Cir. 1983)).

         Pouncy has not persuaded the Court that a final judgment should enter on his public trial claim. Entering such a judgment and permitting an immediate appeal on that claim would create a substantial risk of piecemeal litigation and inefficient use of federal judicial resources. While Pouncy's public trial claim is a serious one that deserves further judicial review, the Court does not believe that there is a high likelihood that Pouncy will prevail on the claim. Thus, permitting an immediate appeal of that claim creates a substantial risk of piecemeal litigation. The Court agrees with Respondent that the most sensible way to proceed in this action (once the Supreme Court decides whether to grant Pouncy's pending Petition for a Writ ...


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