United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
ORDER DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION FOR
L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge
September 30, 2016, the Court issued an opinion and order
denying Bridges' petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
ECF No. 38. Bridges claims that he did not receive notice of
the judgment until sometime after April 20, 2017, well beyond
the deadline for filing a notice of appeal under Federal Rule
of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(1). On May 5, 2017, Bridges filed
a motion to reopen the time for filing a notice of appeal.
ECF No. 44. The Court denied the motion because it was not
filed within the time constraints set forth in Federal Rule
of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(6). ECF No. 45. Bridges now seeks
reconsideration of that order on the ground that the Court
should have provided equitable relief under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 60(b)(6).
to Local Rule 7.1(h), a party seeking reconsideration must
demonstrate (i) a “palpable defect” by which the
court and the parties have been “misled, ” and
(ii) that “correcting the defect will result in a
different disposition of the case.” E.D. Mich. L.R.
7.1(h)(3). A “palpable defect” is an error that
is “obvious, clear, unmistakable, manifest or
plain.” United States v. Cican, 156 F.Supp.2d
661, 668 (E.D. Mich. 2001). Bridges argues that, while the
Court was precluded from reopening the time for filing an
appeal under Rule 4(a)(6), the Court should have provided
relief under Rule 60(b)(6). Rule 60(b)(6) permits a district
court to “relieve a party . . . from a final judgment,
order, or proceeding for . . . any . . . reason that
justifies relief, ” other than the specific grounds
listed in Rule 60(a)(1)-(5). See Fed.R.Civ.P.
timely filing of a notice of appeal in a civil case is a
jurisdictional requirement.” Bowles v.
Russell, 551 U.S. 205, 214 (2007). But, the Sixth Court
of Appeals has held that the time limits for filing a notice
of appeal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(a) do not
“deprive the district court of jurisdiction to vacate
and reinstate” the denial of a habeas petition where
equitable relief is appropriate under Rule 60(b). Tanner
v. Yukins, 776 F.3d 434, 439 (6th Cir. 2015), rehearing
en banc den. (Apr. 14, 2015). In Tanner, the Sixth
Circuit found extraordinary circumstances warranted granting
the petitioner relief under Rule 60(b)(6). Tanner, who was
functionally illiterate, sought assistance from a prison
writ-writer and prepared an appeal from the denial of her
habeas petition. Id. at 436. She filed the appeal
one day late because her prison unit was on lockdown and
prison guards threatened her with solitary confinement if she
left her cell to meet the filing deadline. Id. The
district court failed to recognize that the notice of appeal
was untimely, docketed the notice of appeal and granted a
certificate of appealability. Id. at 436-37. Tanner
did not learn her notice of appeal had been untimely until it
was docketed with the Court of Appeals, two days beyond the
time for filing a timely request for an extension of the
30-day period for filing a notice of appeal. Id. at
437. The Court of Appeals found the appeal untimely and
dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. Id.
then filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
against the prison guards who prevented her from timely
filing a notice of appeal during the lockdown. A jury found
that the guards' actions unconstitutional. Id.
Tanner then returned to district court and filed a motion for
relief from judgment under Rule 60(b)(6). She asked the
district court to vacate and then reinstate its judgment
dismissing her habeas petition because, she argued, “it
would be a miscarriage of justice if the district court
permitted the prison guards' conduct - verified as
unconstitutional by the jury's verdict in her civil
rights case - to cause her to lose her right to
appeal.” Id. The district court denied relief,
finding that Rule 4's time restrictions are
jurisdictional and granting relief would impermissibly
circumvent the rule's jurisdictional limits. Id.
at 437-38. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the
district court's decision, holding that equitable relief
was available under Rule 60(b) and that “[t]he
extraordinary circumstances [warranting such relief] should
have been obvious to the [district] court.”
Id. at 443. The Court of Appeals reasoned that to
hold otherwise would, in effect, have been “to
acquiesce in the unconstitutional conduct of prison
guards” who delayed Tanner's ability to file an
appeal. Id. at 439. The Court of Appeals further
noted that Tanner demonstrated diligence at each step of her
long path of litigation. Id. 443. Given the
“rare” circumstances of Tanner's case,
id. at 444, the Court of Appeals ordered the
district court to vacate is judgment dismissing the petition
and re-enter the judgment, starting anew Rule
4(a)(1)(A)'s thirty-day time limit.
Court finds that Bridges' situation is distinguishable
from Tanner. Bridges did not receive timely notice
of the Court's decision because he failed to notify the
Court of his transfer to another prison as required by Local
Rule 11.2. See E.D. Mich. L.R. 11.2. Bridges was
transferred to a new facility in May 2016, several months
before issuance of the Court's opinion and order denying
habeas corpus relief. Bridges waited until February 21, 2017
to file a formal notice of change of address. ECF No. 41.
Moreover, in contrast to the petitioner in Tanner,
Bridges has not achieved a favorable holding in a § 1983
case. In sum, Bridges fails to show that his circumstances
are sufficiently extraordinary and distinct from those of
other prisoners to warrant relief under Rule 60(b).
it is ORDERED that Petitioner Bridges's
motion for ...