United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Russell, III United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on Petitioner Merrick Barrington
Stedman's Motion to Alter and/or Amend the Judgment (ECF
No. 34). The Motion is ripe for review, and no hearing is
necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (2018). For the
reasons set forth herein, the Court will deny the Motion.
January 26, 2015, Stedman filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas
Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (the
“Petition”) in the United States District Court
for the District of Maryland. (ECF No. 1). Stedman's
Petition sought to challenge his 1993 convictions for murder
and a handgun offense arising from the shooting of Sean
April 23, 2019, this Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and
Order dismissing Stedman's Petition, reasoning that
Stedman's Petition was time-barred because it was
untimely filed and did not meet any of the exceptions to the
statute of limitations. (ECF Nos. 30, 31). Specifically, the
Court found that Stedman was not entitled to statutory or
equitable tolling, nor had he made a showing of actual
innocence such that the Court may consider his Petition in
spite of its untimeliness.
assessing the timeliness of the Petition and any possible
basis for tolling, the Court noted that Stedman's
convictions became final in 1994 and the one-year window for
filing a federal habeas petition after the enactment of the
Antiterrorism and Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”) closed in April 1997, yet Stedman did
not file the instant Petition until 2015. (See Apr.
23, 2019 Mem. Op. at 5-8, ECF No. 30). Additionally, the
Court noted that Stedman did not move to re-open his state
court proceedings until three years after receiving the
affidavits of Vogelson and Baker, which claimed that Stedman
was not the shooter. (Id. at 6-7). Further, Stedman
did not file his federal Petition until 2015- nearly ten
years after receipt of the affidavits and almost eighteen
years after his window for filing a federal habeas petition
closed. (Id.). As such, the Court found that Stedman
was not entitled to statutory or equitable tolling.
(Id. at 8).
to his actual innocence claim, the Court found that Stedman
failed to meet his burden of establishing that no juror
acting reasonably would have voted to find him guilty beyond
a reasonable doubt in light of the new evidence presented in
his Petition. (Id. at 9). In so finding, the Court
reasoned that Stedman failed to establish that the Vogelson
and Baker affidavits were reliable. (Id. at 20). The
Court indicated that the delay between obtaining the
affidavits and presenting them to the appropriate courts for
consideration weighed against their reliability.
(Id. at 22-23). The Court also observed that the
affidavits lacked specificity as to the shooting, the vantage
point of the affiants, and the reason for the delay in
providing the affidavits. (Id. at 23).
presuming that the Vogelson and Baker affidavits constituted
new evidence, the Court weighed the affidavits against the
evidence presented at trial and found that
“Stedman's situation does not present the
extraordinary case where it is more likely than not that no
reasonable juror would have convicted him in light of the
affidavits.” (Id. at 24). The Court reasoned
that although there were “weaknesses in the State's
case against Stedman, including the lack of physical evidence
that tied him to the murder and the witnesses' reluctance
to identify him as the shooter, ” the State did present
evidence of Stedman's motive and opportunity, a statement
from Stedman about his “problems with Bristol, ”
and testimony from eyewitnesses linking Stedman to the crime
scene. (Id.). Ultimately, the Court concluded that
the declarations of Vogelson and Baker were “somewhat
probative” but “f[e]ll short of that which is
required to demonstrate actual innocence.”
(Id. at 25). In all, the Court found that Stedman
failed to satisfy the threshold requirements for the Court to
consider his time-barred Petition on the merits and dismissed
his federal habeas Petition. (Id. at 26).
9, 2019, Stedman filed a Motion to Alter and/or Amend the
Judgment set forth in the Court's April 23, 2019
Memorandum Opinion and Order. (ECF No. 34). To date, the
Court has no record that Respondents filed an Opposition.
Standard of Review
motion to alter or amend is governed by Rule 59(e) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Pursuant to Rule 59(e), a
district court may alter or amend a final judgment under
three circumstances: “(1) to accommodate an intervening
change in controlling law; (2) to account for new evidence
not available at trial; or (3) to correct a clear error of
law or prevent manifest injustice.” U.S. ex rel.
Becker v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 305 F.3d 284,
290 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am.
Nat'l Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir.
59(e) amendment is “an extraordinary remedy which
should be used sparingly.” Pac. Ins. Co., 148
F.3d at 403 (quoting 11 Wright, et al., Federal Practice
and Procedure § 2810.1, at 124 (2d ed. 1995)).
Furthermore, “[a] motion for reconsideration is
‘not the proper place to relitigate a case after the
court has ruled against a party, as mere disagreement with a
court's rulings will not support granting such a
request.'” Lynn v. Monarch Recovery Mgmt.,
Inc., 953 F.Supp.2d 612, 620 (D.Md. 2013) (quoting
Sanders v. Prince George's Pub. Sch. Sys., No.
RWT 08CV501, 2011 WL 4443441, at *1 (D.Md. Sept. 21, 2011)).