United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
N. Stivers, United States District Court.
matter is before the Court on Petitioner's Motion for
Reconsideration (DN 26). For the foregoing reasons, the
motion is DENIED.
December 26, 2005, Billy Keith Melton
(“Petitioner”) was convicted in Monroe Circuit
Court of murder, two counts of first degree rape, one count
of intimidating a witness, and one count of being a
persistent felony offender in the second degree.
(Resp't's Answer App. PageID # 429-32, DN 11-2).
Melton was sentenced to life imprisonment-a conviction which
was upheld by the Kentucky Supreme Court. Melton v.
Commonwealth, No. 2006-SC-000080-MR, 2007 WL 4139640
(Ky. Nov. 21, 2007). That conviction was upheld again in 2011
by the Kentucky Court of Appeals after Melton initiated a
collateral attack against his sentence pursuant to Kentucky
Rule of Criminal Procedure (“RCr”) 11.42.
Melton v. Commonwealth, No. 2009-CA-002271-MR, 2011
2078590 (Ky. App. May 27, 2011).
10, 2017-over ten years following his appearance before the
Kentucky Supreme Court, and nearly eight years after his
initial collateral attack to the sentence-Melton, pro
se, submitted a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus to
this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (DN 1). This
matter was referred to the United States Magistrate Judge for
Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Recommendation
(“R&R”) (DN 14).
R&R, Judge Brennenstuhl recommended that the petition be
denied as untimely pursuant to the one-year statute of
limitations contained within 28 U.S.C. 2244(d)(1) because
Petitioner filed his petition over eight years late. (R&R
2). Judge Brennenstuhl also considered whether equitable
tolling should apply because of Petitioner's limited
cognitive capabilities. (R&R 4). He considered the
contents of a report assessing Melton's abilities
prepared by John M. Gatschenberger, Ph.D. and concluded that
the contents of that report neither indicated Melton was
incapable of contemplating filing deadlines, nor demonstrated
a causal link between his abilities and the late filing.
(R&R 3-4). Judge Brennenstuhl then concluded that
equitable tolling was improper and that a Certificate of
Appealability should not be issued. (R&R 5-6).
after Petitioner submitted a motion to have James Harrison
(“Harrison”) act as his next friend in this
matter, Respondent Kathy Litteral (“Respondent”)
moved to strike Harrison's the filing as unauthorized.
(Pet'r's Mot. Allow Next Friend, DN 16;
Resp't's Mot. Strike, DN 19). This Court adopted the
findings and conclusions of the R&R, denied
Petitioner's motion to have Harrison act as next friend,
and granted Respondent's motion to strike Harrison's
pleadings. (Order, DN 23). This Court reasoned that Harrison
failed to satisfy his burden to obtain “next
friend” status based on the contents of Dr.
Gatschenberger's report and Petitioner's prior
assertions of his mental competence. (Order 2).
Petitioner has moved for reconsideration of the Court's
order adopting the R&R. (Pet'r's Mot. Reconsider,
DN 26). The Court has construed that motion to challenge the
Court's adoption of Judge Brennenstuhl's R&R
concerning equitable tolling, as well as its decision to deny
Harrison next friend status.
Court has jurisdiction to “entertain an application for
a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody
pursuant to the judgment of a State court” under 28
U.S.C. § 2254(a).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not expressly provide for
motions for reconsideration, but they do permit litigants
subject to an adverse judgment to file a motion to alter or
amend the judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), or to file
a motion seeking relief from the judgment pursuant to Rule
60(b). Harvey v. United States, No. 1:11-CR-24-TBR,
2017 WL 89492, at *1 (W.D. Ky. Jan. 9, 2017). Neither rule
permits a party to reargue a case. Ayers v.
Anderson, No. 3:16-CV-00572-CRS, 2018 WL 3244410, at *2
(W.D. Ky. July 3, 2018) (citing Whitehead v. Bowen,
301 Fed.Appx. 484, 489 (6th Cir. 2008)). Nor does either rule
“allow a defeated litigant a second chance to present
new explanations, legal theories, or proof.”
Id. (quoting Tyler v. Anderson, 749 F.3d
499, 509 (6th Cir. 2014)). For both Rule 59(e) and Rule
60(b), the burden of showing entitlement to relief is on the
moving party. See id. at *1 (citation omitted).
59(e) motions give district courts an opportunity to fix
their own errors, “sparing the parties and appellate
courts the burden of unnecessary appellate
proceedings.” Howard v. United States, 533
F.3d 472, 475 (6th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). Granting a
Rule 59(e) motion is appropriate when there is: “(1) a
clear error of law; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) an
intervening change in controlling law; or (4) a need to
prevent manifest injustice.” Schlaud v.
Snyder, 785 F.3d 1119, 1124 (6th Cir. 2015) (citation
omitted). Rule 59(e) motions are “extraordinary and
sparingly granted.” Marshall v. Johnson, No.
3:07-CV-171-H, 2007 WL 1175046, *2 (W.D. Ky. Apr. 19, 2007)
60(b), on the other hand, grants power to courts to
“reopen cases well after final judgment has been
entered.” Howard, 533 F.3d at 475 (citation
omitted). This rule provides that a court “may relieve
a party or its legal representative from final judgment,
order, or proceeding” for numerous reasons.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). Because Petitioner did not style his
motion for Rule 60(b) relief, the Court must determine which
of the grounds enumerated for relief might apply here. In the
Court's view, Petitioner's claims potentially fall
within two of the categories of relief enumerated in ...