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Marion v. Woods

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

October 28, 2019

ALLEN MARION, Petitioner,
v.
JEFFREY WOODS, Respondent,

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE RULE 60(B) MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT, DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND GRANTING LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

          HONORABLE VICTORIA A. ROBERTS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Allen Marion's Rule 60(b) motion for relief from judgment. For the reasons that follow, the motion is DENIED.

         I. Background

         This Court granted Petitioner a conditional writ of habeas corpus, finding that Petitioner was denied the effective assistance of trial counsel because his attorney failed to investigate and present an alibi defense. Marion v. Woods, 128 F.Supp. 3d 987 (E.D. Mich. 2015). The Sixth Circuit reversed the decision. Marion v. Woods, 663 F. App'x. 378 (6th Cir. 2016); cert. den. 137 S.Ct. 2291 (2017).

         Petitioner filed a Rule 60(b) motion for relief from judgment. Petitioner alleged that the Michigan Assistant Attorney General committed a fraud upon the court before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit during the appeal of this Court's decision to grant habeas relief.

         This Court transferred the motion to the Sixth Circuit, because Petitioner alleged that the fraud had been committed upon the Sixth Circuit.

         The Sixth Circuit ruled that this Court should not have transferred the Rule 60(b) motion to that court but should have addressed the motion itself, because Petitioner's motion alleged a defect in the integrity of the federal habeas petition and not merely a resolution of the claim on the merits. In Re Marion, No. 18-1673, * 2-3 (6th Cir. Sept. 26, 2018). The Sixth Circuit remanded the case to this Court to make the initial determination of whether respondent committed a fraud upon the court during Petitioner's initial habeas case. Id.

         This Court reopened the case and set deadlines for the parties to file supplemental pleadings. Petitioner did not file a supplemental motion. Respondent filed a supplemental answer.

         II. Discussion

         A Rule 60(b) motion for relief from judgment which seeks to advance one or more substantive claims following the denial of a habeas petition, such as a motion seeking leave to present a claim that was omitted from the habeas petition due to mistake or excusable neglect, or a motion that seeks to present newly discovered evidence not presented in the petition, or seeking relief from judgment due to an alleged change in the substantive law since the prior habeas petition was denied, should be classified as a “second or successive habeas petition.” This requires authorization from the Court of Appeals before filing, pursuant to the provisions of § 2244(b). See Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 531 (2005). A Rule 60(b) motion can be considered as raising “a ‘claim' if it attacks the federal court's previous resolution of a claim on the merits, since alleging that the court erred in denying habeas relief on the merits is effectively indistinguishable from alleging that the movant is, under the substantive provisions of the statutes, entitled to habeas relief.” Id., at 532. When a habeas petitioner's Rule 60(b) motion alleges a “defect in the integrity of the federal habeas proceedings, ” the motion should not be transferred to the circuit court for consideration as a second or successive habeas petition. Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 532. A claim of “[f]raud on the federal habeas court, ” is an “example of such a defect.” Id. at 532, n. 5.

         Petitioner's allegation of a fraud on the court involves a challenge to the defects in the integrity of the habeas proceedings; the motion is not a successive habeas petition.

         Petitioner does not allege that a fraud was committed upon this Court, but upon the Sixth Circuit. This Court still believes that this is not the proper forum to address Petitioner's 60(b) motion since the alleged fraud was committed upon the Sixth Circuit. See Porcelli v. Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co., 78 F.R.D. 499, 500 (E.D. Wis. 1978), aff'd sub nom. Porcelli v. Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co., 588 F.2d 838 (7th Cir. 1978). This Court did not adjudicate the appeal and has no way of knowing what documents or exhibits were or were not considered by the Sixth Circuit when that court reversed this Court's decision to grant the writ; this Court cannot conclusively determine whether or not any of the Attorney General's allegedly fraudulent actions had any effect on the Sixth Circuit's decision. This Court is bound, however, by the remand order and will follow it.

         The elements of fraud upon the court ...


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