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Handy v. United States

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

December 5, 2013

WILLIAM L. HANDY, JR., Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ALEXANDER WILLIAMS, Jr., District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Petitioner/Defendant William L. Handy, Jr.'s Motion for Relief from Judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Doc. No. 682. For the reasons articulated below, Petitioner's Motion will be DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

On January 30, 2007, following a six-day jury trial in which he proceeded pro se , Petitioner was convicted of the following counts from the Fifth Superseding Indictment: conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine (Count I); use of a communications facility in furtherance of a narcotics offense (Counts II, III, and IV); and possession with intent to distribute cocaine (Count V). See Doc. No. 561 at 1-2.[1] The Court sentenced Petitioner to 360 months of incarceration followed by five years of supervised release as to Counts I and V, and 48 months of incarceration followed by three years of supervised release with respect to Counts II, III, and IV, all counts to run concurrently. Id. at 2. The Court entered judgment on April 13, 2007. Doc. No. 454. The Fourth Circuit affirmed Petitioner's conviction and sentence on January 8, 2009. United States v. Hall , 551 F.3d 257 (4th Cir. 2009).

On July 31, 2009, Petitioner filed a Motion to Vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on the grounds that, inter alia , his waiver of trial counsel violated his Sixth Amendment rights because it was not knowingly made. Doc. No. 531. With respect to this issue, the Government adopted and incorporated by reference the arguments it made in opposition to a virtually identical claim raised by Petitioner's co-defendant, Christopher Hall, in Hall's § 2255 petition. Doc. No. 540 at 7. On August 5, 2010, the Court denied Petitioner's § 2255 petition concluding, inter alia , that Petitioner's waiver of counsel arguments were groundless. Doc. No. 561 at 5-7. Petitioner appealed and the Fourth Circuit dismissed his appeal on March 24, 2011. Doc. No. 593.

Petitioner filed the pending Motion for Relief from Judgment on February 4, 2013. Doc. No. 682. Petitioner argues that his Motion is not a successive § 2255 petition because he is attacking defects in the integrity of the collateral review process, not the substance of the Court's resolution of his claims on the merits. Id. at 1-2. Petitioner identifies the following defects in the Court's denial of his § 2255 petition: (1) that the Court deprived him of his due process rights by allowing the Government to file a response to his petition that did not adhere to Rule 5 of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings; and (2) that the Government committed fraud upon the Court by citing statements from a colloquy that allegedly did not occur. Petitioner's Motion is fully briefed and ripe for the Court's consideration.

II. ANALYSIS

In United States v. Winestock , 340 F.3d 200, 206-07 (4th Cir. 2003), the Fourth Circuit distinguished between a Rule 60(b) motion and a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion to vacate, set aside or correct a sentence. The Fourth Circuit explained that "a motion directly attacking the prisoner's conviction or sentence will usually amount to a successive application, while a motion seeking a remedy for some defect in the collateral review process will generally be deemed a proper motion to reconsider." Id. at 207. Because Petitioner's Motion is focused on alleged defects in the collateral review process, the Court concludes that his Motion is properly considered under Rule 60(b).

To set aside a judgment under Rule 60(b), a movant must first show "timeliness, a meritorious defense, a lack of unfair prejudice to the opposing party, and exceptional circumstances." Dowell v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Auto. Ins. Co. , 993 F.2d 46, 48 (4th Cir. 1993) (quoting Werner v. Cabo , 731 F.2d 204, 207 (4th Cir. 1984)). After making these threshold showings, the movant must then satisfy one of the six enumerated grounds for relief under Rule 60(b). Dowell , 993 F.2d at 48; Nat'l Credit Union Admin. Bd. v. Gray , 1 F.3d 262, 265 (4th Cir. 1993). Those enumerated grounds are the following:

(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;
(2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a trial under Rule 59(b);
(3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party;
(4) the judgment is void;
(5) the judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it ...

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