United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
W. Grimm United States District Judge
in Nathan A. Silk's Motion for Relief from Judgment and
Order pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 60(b)(1)
and (3), in which he argues that the Court, in denying his
motion to vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, failed to reach
the merits of the claims he raised. ECF No. 372. Because the
motion is untimely, I will deny it.
two days of trial, Mr. Silla entered into a plea agreement on
April 26, 2012, ECF Nos. 181, 184, 185, and one week later
moved to withdraw his plea, ECF No. 189. He filed a
supplemental motion to withdraw his guilty plea on December
19, 2012. ECF No. 248. The Court held a motions hearing on
February 4, 2013, denied the motions, and sentenced Mr. Silla
to 144 months' imprisonment that same day, ECF Nos. 264,
Silla appealed on February 7, 2013, ECF No. 274, and then
filed a motion to vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on April
5, 2013, ECF No. 281, which this Court dismissed as premature
given that the appeal was pending, ECF No. 284. The Fourth
Circuit affirmed this Court's judgment on November 8,
2013, ECF No. 303, and Silla filed a § 2255 motion to
vacate, ECF No. 333, which I denied, ECF No. 358. Silla
appealed that Order as well, ECF No. 359, and the Fourth
Circuit dismissed the appeal, ECF No. 362, and denied his
petition for rehearing en banc, ECF No. 364. He petitioned
the Supreme Court for writ of certiorari, ECF No. 366, which
the Supreme Court likewise denied, ECF No. 368. He then filed
a Motion for Relief from Judgment or Order pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1) and (3), ECF No. 372, which now is
to Mr. Silla, he signed the plea agreement while his judgment
was compromised by the effects of his prescription
medications. Def.'s Mem. 1-5, ECF No. 372-1. In his view,
"the Court failed to Order a mental competency hearing
and evaluation" prior to sentencing, and "the
prosecutor lured the defendant into participating in a plea
agreement when defendant's mental state and judgment
[were] impaired by the psyche [sic] medication."
Id. at 1. Mr. Silla also asserts that "trial
counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel for
knowingly permitting the defendant to sign a plea agreement
with the government when trial counsel had argued in Court
moments earlier that the trial proceedings be halted to
permit the defendant to seek medical evaluation which was
granted by the Court." Id.
argues that "the district court failed to reach the
merits of the §2255 claims, and completely overlooked or
skipped one of Defendant's 'Grounds' for Habeas
relief regarding the mental health medication taken by the
defendant." Def.'s Mot. 1. In his view, "the
district court failed to reach all reasonable inferences as
to the defendant's state of mind, mental changes, and
mental competency at the time of the signing of the plea
agreement, and also at the Rule 11 plea colloquy
hearing." Id. Noting that the trial court
"failed to conduct an evidentiary hearing to address its
failure to 'Order Competency' hearings, and
'mental health' evaluations prior to entering the
plea and before accepting the defendant's plea, "
Mr. Silla insists that, when considering his § 2255
motion, the Court "failed to resolve all issues averred
in the § 2255 Motion." Id.
moves pursuant to Rule 60(b)(1) and (3) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure. Def.'s Mot. 1; Def.'s Mem. 10-11.
Rule 60(b) provides that "the court may relieve a party
... from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for ... (1)
mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect"
or "(3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or
extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing
party." Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1), (3). The rule limits the
time in which a party may seek such relief: "A motion
under Rule 60(b) must be made within a reasonable time-and
for reasons (1), (2), and (3) no more than a year after
the entry of the judgment or order or the date of the
proceeding." Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(c)(1) (emphasis added).
With regard to subsection (b)(1), this time limit is strictly
enforced. See Mizrach v. United States, No.
WDQ-11-1153, 2015 WL 7012658, at *4 (D. Md. Nov. 12, 2015)
("[I]n no instance may a district court grant relief
under Rule 60(b)(1) when more than one year has lapsed since
it issued its final judgment or order."), affd,
678 Fed.Appx. 179 (4th Cir. 2017), cert, denied, No.
17-246, 2017 WL 3536420 (U.S. Oct. 16, 2017), and
affd, 678 Fed.Appx. 179 (4th Cir. 2017), and
cert, denied, No. 17-246, 2017 WL 3536420 (U.S. Oct.
16, 2017). Therefore, "[a] movant seeking relief from a
judgment under Rule 60(b) must make a threshold showing of
'timeliness, a meritorious defense, a lack of unfair
prejudice to the opposing party, and exceptional
circumstances.'" United States v. Johnson,
668 Fed.Appx. 450, 451 (4th Cir. 2016) (quoting Dowell v.
State Farm Fire & Cas. Auto. Ins. Co., 993 F.2d 46,
48 (4th Cir. 1993) (internal quotation marks omitted)).
noted, I denied Mr. Silla's § 2255 motion on April
12, 2016. His pending motion, dated October 10, 2017, but not
mailed until October 18, 2017, and then received in this
Court via priority mail on October 20, 2017, ECF No. 372-7,
was eighteen months-well over a year-after the April 12, 2016
Order. Certainly, in the interim, he promptly sought
appellate review, but the Fourth Circuit issued its mandate
on December 27, 2016, and Mr. Silla waited three months
before seeking certiorari from the Supreme Court on March 20,
2017. Then, after the Supreme Court denied his petition, he
waited almost five months before filing the pending motion.
Thus, even if I considered his motion under Rule 60(b)(6),
which provides for relief for "any other reason that
justifies relief, " and simply requires that the motion
"be made within a reasonable time, " Fed.R.Civ.P.
60(c)(1), his eighteen month delay while he sought appellate
relief, including a three month delay after the Fourth
Circuit mandate and a five-month delay after the Supreme
Court denied his petition, unaccompanied by any explanation
for either delay, is not reasonable. See Ibida v.
Gates, No. PWG-10-3337, 2015 WL 12641689, at *1 (D. Md.
Jan. 6, 2015) ("A twenty-month delay, during which the
Court denied Plaintiffs first Rule 60(b) motion and the
Fourth Circuit dismissed Plaintiffs appeal, is not reasonable
(nor has Plaintiff offered any explanation why he filed his
motion so belatedly).").
"the arguments he asserts in his ... Rule 60(b) Motion
could have been asserted on direct appeal, " and when
'"the reason asserted for the Rule 60(b) ... motion
could have been addressed on appeal from the judgment, [the
Fourth Circuit has] denied the motion as merely an
inappropriate substitute for an appeal.'" United
States v. Hicks, No. ELH-98-259, 2013 WL 1726399, at *13
(D. Md. Apr. 19, 2013) (quoting Aikens v. Ingram,
652 F.3d 496, 501 (4th Cir.2011) (en banc)). Accordingly, Mr.
Silla's motion is denied.
decline to issue a certificate of appealability because Mr.
Silla has not made a "substantial showing of the denial