United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
B. Russell Senior Judge United States District Court.
matter is before the Court on remand from the Sixth Circuit
Court of Appeals for the limited purpose of determining
whether to reopen the appeal period for Petitioner-Appellant
Daniel Julian Laporte under Rule 4(a)(6) of the Federal Rules
of Appellate Procedure. For the reasons stated herein, the
Court will GRANT Laporte's motion.
2012, Laporte pled guilty to two counts of the crime of
Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon and was
sentenced to 100 months imprisonment. [DN 27.] Laporte filed
a § 2255 Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct
Sentence, [DN 29], which this Court denied on February 29,
2016. [DN 38; 39.] The Court sent copies of its order and
judgment to Laporte at his listed address at the Federal
Correctional Institution in Memphis, Tennessee. Nearly five
months later, however, on July 22, 2016, Laporte sent a
letter to the Court requesting an update on the status of his
“pending” § 2255 motion, noting that he had
been experiencing problems receiving his mail. [DN 40.] The
Court again sent Laporte copies of its order and judgment
adopting the Magistrate Judge's Findings of Fact and
Recommendation, denying his § 2255 motion, and denying a
certificate of appealability. [DN 40.] Soon thereafter,
Laporte filed a notice of appeal with the Sixth Circuit Court
of Appeals. [DN 41.]
Sixth Circuit noted that Laporte's time for filing a
notice of appeal expired on April 29, 2016, thirty days after
the Court's February 29, 2016 judgment, and therefore
that his August notice of appeal was late. Laporte v.
United States, No. 16-6260, slip op. at 1 (6th Cir. Feb.
8, 2016) (citing Fed. R. App. P. 4(a), 26(a)). In response to
a show-cause order from the Sixth Circuit, Laporte claimed
that the last item he received from the district court was
the January 15, 2016 magistrate judge's report and
recommendation; that he only learned about the district
court's decision after he inquired into the status of his
case in a July 22, 2016 letter to the district court; that he
understood “the average time frame for a ruling on a
2255 motion is 1.5 years with 3 three years being the normal
time frame”; that he has filed other documents in a
timely fashion; that there have been mail problems at the
prison; that he immediately appealed after he learned of the
decision; and that the appeal should not be dismissed because
the delay in filing his notice of appeal was not his fault.
Laporte asserts that “minimal time passed when he
received the order and judgment” and asks this court to
grant him permission to have his appeal heard or to construe
his notice of appeal as a motion to reopen the appeal period
pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(6).
Id. at 1-2. The Sixth Circuit construed
Laporte's notice of appeal and his response to the
court's show-cause order as a motion pursuant to Rule
4(a)(6) to reopen the time to file an appeal, and remanded to
this Court for a determination of whether Laporte's
motion should be granted. Id. at 3-4.
4(a)(6) “provides an avenue for relaxing the time
period for appeal in cases in which the litigant failed to
receive notice of entry of judgment.” Tanner v.
Yukins, 776 F.3d 434, 439 (6th Cir. 2015) (citing Fed.
R. App. P. (4)(a)(6)). Rule 4(a)(6) allows a district court
to reopen the appeal period provided it finds the following
three conditions are met: 1) the movant did not receive
notice of the entry of judgment within 21 days after its
entry, 2) the movant files a 4(a)(6) motion within 180 days
of the entry of judgment or 14 days after receiving notice,
whichever is earlier, and 3) “the court finds that no
party would be prejudiced.” Fed. R. App. P.
the Court is satisfied that Laporte did not receive notice of
the Court's February 29, 2016 judgment within 21 days
after its entry. Laporte, who has proceeded pro se
throughout his habeas proceedings, consistently met
deadlines, responded to the Court, and made proper filings.
Although the Court sent copies of its February 29, 2016 order
and judgment to the address listed for Laporte, the Court is
persuaded by Laporte's argument that he had experienced
issues with receiving his mail at the prison and never
received the documents. The Court is further convinced by the
fact that, after inquiring about the status of his §
2255 motion and receiving new copies of the order and
judgment five months later, Laporte promptly filed a notice
of appeal. [See DN 40, 41.] Accordingly, the Court
finds the first requirement of Rule 4(a)(6) satisfied.
the Court finds that Laporte filed his notice of appeal
(which the Court construes as a Rule 4(a)(6) motion) within
14 days, the earlier of the two time periods listed in Rule
4(a)(B)(6), of receiving notice of the Court's judgment.
See Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(6)(B) (180 days after
judgment is entered or 14 days after notice is received,
“whichever is earlier.”) The Court mailed another
copy of its judgment to Laporte on July 22, 2016. [DN 40.]
The proof of service attached to Laporte's notice of
appeal was signed by him on August 3, 2016 and was postmarked
on the same date. [DN 41 at 2-3.] See Fed. R. App.
P. 4(c) (An inmate's notice of appeal is timely “if
it is deposited in the institution's internal mail system
on or before the last day for filing and (A)
it is accompanied by: (i) a declaration . .
. or a notarized statement . . . setting out the date of
deposit and stating that first-class postage is being
prepaid; or (ii) evidence (such as a
postmark or date stamp) showing that the notice was so
deposited and that postage was prepaid.”); United
States v. Smotherman, 838 F.3d 736, 737 (6th Cir. 2016)
(“The prison mailbox rule has been long established,
and we have recognized the typical rule that a pro
se prisoner's notice of appeal is deemed
‘filed at the time [pro se prisoner] delivered
it to the prison authorities for forwarding to the court
clerk.'” (citations omitted)). Accordingly, this
requirement, too, is satisfied.
the Court finds that no party will be prejudiced if
Laporte's time to appeal is extended, and therefore that
the final Rule 4(a)(6) requirement is also satisfied. Cf.
Freeman v. United States, No. 1:94-CR-014, 2006 WL
572004, at *1 (E.D. Tenn. Mar. 8, 2006) (“The court
finds that no party would be prejudiced by reopening the time
to file an appeal.”); Lige v. Metrish, No.
07-14871, 2010 WL 3952277, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Oct. 8, 2010)
(“The Court also finds that no party would be
prejudiced by a reopening of the time to file an
appeal.”) Because each of these conditions is
satisfied, the Court “may reopen the time to file an
appeal for a period of 14 days after the date when its order
to reopen is entered.” Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(6).
reasons set forth above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that
Laporte's Rule 4(a)(6) motion is GRANTED. Laporte shall
have fourteen (14) days from the entry of this order, that
is, until March 7, 2017, to file an appeal of this