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Marte v. United States

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 11, 2016

GENERO MARTE, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

RULING RE: PET’R’S MOT. FOR RELIEF FROM J./ORDER DENYING HIS AM. MOT. TO VACATE, SET ASIDE, OR CORRECT HIS SENTENCE, AND AUTHORITY IN SUPPORT THEREOF, BROUGHT PURSUANT TO RULE 60(b)(1) AND (6) OF THE FED. R. CIV. P. (DOC. NO. 22)

Janet C. Hall United States District Judge

I. BACKGROUND

On November 20, 2008, a federal jury convicted petitioner Genero Marte (“Marte”) of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base, in violation of sections 841(b)(1)(A)(iii) and 846 of title 21 of the United States Code. See United States v. Marte, No. 3:08-cr-00004, Verdict Form at 3 (Doc. No. 596); see also id., Judgment (Doc. No. 1151). A year later, on November 24, 2009, the court sentenced Marte to 204 months’ imprisonment to be followed by a five-year term of supervised release. See id., Judgment (Doc. No. 1151). Marte timely appealed his sentence, which the Second Circuit affirmed by Summary Order on April 30, 2013. See United States v. Rawls, 523 F. App’x 772 (2d Cir. 2013).

On April 25, 2014, Marte filed a Petition that sought to have his sentence vacated, set aside, or corrected pursuant to section 2255 of title 28 of the United States Code. See Mot. Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody (“Pet’r’s 2255 Mot.”) (Doc. No. 1). On May 30, 2014, a supplement/amendment to Marte’s section 2255 Petition that raised additional grounds for relief was docketed. See Movant’s Suppl./Am. Pleadings in Support of Pet. for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C.A. § 2255 (“Pet’r’s First Suppl./Am. Mot.”) (Doc. No. 5). After additional briefing by Marte and the government, the court denied Marte’s Petition on February 23, 2015. See Ruling Re: Mot. to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence (Doc. No. 1) (“Feb. 2015 Ruling”) (Doc. No. 14). Marte subsequently filed a Motion seeking reconsideration of that Ruling. See Mot. for Reconsideration, Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) (Doc. No. 15). The court granted Marte’s Motion for Reconsideration, but again denied his request for relief pursuant to section 2255 of title 28 of the United States Code. See Ruling Re: Mot. for Reconsideration (Doc. No. 15) (“July 2015 Ruling”) (Doc. No. 17). Marte appealed the court’s denial of his section 2255 Petition, but the Second Circuit dismissed his appeal on the grounds that Marte had not “made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.” See Mandate of United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Doc. No. 28) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2)).

Now pending before the court is a Motion filed by Marte pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Pet’r’s Mot. for Relief from J./Order Denying his Am. Mot. to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct his Sentence, and Authority in Support Thereof, Brought Pursuant to Rule 60(b)(1) and (6) of the Fed.R.Civ.P. (“Pet’r’s Rule 60(b) Mot.”) (Doc. No. 22). Marte contends that the court erred when it issued a Ruling on his Petition for relief pursuant to section 2255 without taking into account a second Motion to Amend his initial 2255 Petition that was dated May 30, 2014. See id. at 2. For the reasons that follow, the court grants Marte’s Rule 60(b) Motion (Doc. No. 22) for the sole purpose of considering whether the claim raised in Marte’s second Motion to Amend, when considered in conjunction with the rest of his filings, is a cognizable claim for relief. The court also grants Marte’s request that he be permitted to amend his section 2255 Petition to add the claim raised in his second Motion to Amend (Doc. No. 29). However, the court denies Marte’s request for relief pursuant to section 2255 of title 28 of the United States Code (Doc. No. 1).

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Rule 60(b)

Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure empowers the court to “relieve a party . . . from a final judgment, order, or proceeding” for various reasons. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). The enumerated reasons include “mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect, ” id. at 60(b)(1), and “any other reason that justifies relief, ” id. at 60(b)(6). Motions invoking Rule 60(b)(1), (2), or (3) must be filed “no more than a year after the entry of the judgment or order or the date of the proceeding, ” and all other Rule 60(b) motions “must be made within a reasonable time.” Id. at 60(c)(1).

“The decision whether to grant a party’s Rule 60(b) motion is committed to the ‘sound discretion’ of the district court . . . .” Stevens v. Miller, 676 F.3d 62, 67 (2d Cir. 2012). Because Rule 60(b)(6), in particular, has a “potentially sweeping reach, courts require the party seeking to avail itself of the Rule to demonstrate that ‘extraordinary circumstances’ warrant relief.” Id.; see also Paddington Partners v. Bouchard, 34 F.3d 1132, 1142 (2d Cir. 1994) (“This Circuit has indicated . . . that since 60(b) allows extraordinary judicial relief, it is invoked only if the moving party meets its burden of demonstrating ‘exceptional circumstances.’”).

B. Section 2255

“Because requests for habeas corpus relief are in tension with society’s strong interest in the finality of criminal convictions, the courts have established rules that make it more difficult for a defendant to upset a conviction by collateral, as opposed to direct, attack.” Ciak v. United States, 59 F.3d 296, 301 (2d Cir.1995), abrogated on other grounds by Mickens v. Taylor, 535 U.S. 162 (2002). “[C]ollateral attack on a final judgment in a criminal case is generally available under [section] 2255 only for a constitutional error, a lack of jurisdiction in the sentencing court, or an error of law or fact that constitutes a fundamental defect which inherently results in complete miscarriage of justice.” Graziano v. United States, 83 F.3d 587, 589-90 (2d Cir. 1996) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted).

In a section 2255 motion, the burden is on the petitioner to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he is entitled to relief. See Napoli v. United States, 45 F.3d 680, 683 (2d Cir. 1995). In deciding a section 2255 motion, the court must hold a hearing, “[u]nless the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). However, a petitioner is not automatically entitled to a hearing, and no hearing is required where a petitioner’s “allegations are ‘vague, conclusory, or palpably incredible.’” Gonzalez v. United States, 722 F.3d 118, 130 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting Machibroda v. United States, 368 U.S. 487, 495 (1962)); see also United States v. Aiello, 814 F.2d 109, 113-14 (2d Cir. 1987) (“Airy generalities, conclusory assertions and hearsay statements will not suffice because none of these would be admissible evidence at a hearing.”). “The procedure for determining whether a hearing is necessary is in part analogous to, but in part different from, a summary judgment proceeding.” Puglisi v. United States, 586 F.3d 209, 213 (2d Cir. 2009). “To warrant a hearing, the motion must set forth specific facts supported by competent evidence, raising detailed and controverted issues of fact that, if proved at a hearing, would entitle [the petitioner] to relief.” Gonzalez, 722 F.3d at 131. The threshold evaluation in determining the necessity for a hearing is whether the petitioner’s claim is “plausible, ” not whether that claim “will necessarily succeed.” Puglisi, 586 F.3d at 213 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).

C. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel is “[o]ne claim that may appropriately be raised for the first time in a [section] 2255 motion, ‘whether or not the petitioner could have raised the claim on direct appeal.’” Harrington v. United States, 689 F.3d 124, 129 (2d Cir. 2012) (quoting Massaro v. United States, 538 U.S. 500, 504, 509 (2003)). A petitioner claiming ineffective assistance of counsel “must show that (1) counsel’s performance was objectively deficient, and (2) ...


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