United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
DANIEL L. VANSKIKE, # C-68736, Petitioner,
DANIEL Q. SULLIVAN, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Petitioner Daniel
VanSkike's Motion to Vacate the Court's Order and
Judgment dismissing his case, filed December 11, 2019. (Doc.
24). VanSkike asks the Court in the alternative to accept his
motion as his Notice of Appeal if the Judgment is not
vacated. (Doc. 24, pp. 1, 12-13).
November 26, 2019, the Court dismissed without prejudice
VanSkike's Habeas Corpus Petition filed under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 because he had failed to exhaust his available
state court remedies before seeking federal habeas relief.
(Docs. 22, 23). The Court declined to issue VanSkike a
certificate of appealability. (Doc. 22, p. 8).
motion does not invoke a particular Federal Rule as the basis
for relief. The Seventh Circuit has held, however, that a
motion challenging the merits of a district court order will
be considered as having been filed pursuant to either Rule
59(e) or Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
See, e.g., Obriecht v. Raemisch, 517 F.3d
489, 493 (7th Cir. 2008) (motion filed within Rule 59(e) time
limit may be analyzed under either Rule 59(e) or Rule 60(b),
depending on the substance of the motion); Mares v.
Busby, 34 F.3d 533, 535 (7th Cir. 1994). VanSkike's
motion was filed well before the 28-day deadline for filing a
Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend the judgment, therefore,
either Rule 59(e) or Rule 60(b) may be applied.
motion under Rule 59(e) may only be granted if the movant
shows there was a manifest error of law or fact or presents
newly discovered evidence that could not have been discovered
previously. See, e.g., Sigsworth v. City of
Aurora, 487 F.3d 506, 511-12 (7th Cir. 2007);
Harrington v. City of Chicago, 433 F.3d 542 (7th
Cir. 2006) (citing Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of
Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir. 2000)).
60(b) permits a court to relieve a party from an order or
judgment based on such grounds as mistake, surprise or
excusable neglect by the movant; fraud or misconduct by the
opposing party; a judgment that is void or has been
discharged; or newly discovered evidence that could not have
been discovered within the 28-day deadline for filing a Rule
59(b) motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1). The reasons offered by a
movant for setting aside a judgment under Rule 60(b),
however, must be something that could not have been employed
to obtain a reversal by direct appeal. See, e.g., Bell v.
Eastman Kodak Co., 214 F.3d 798, 801 (7th Cir. 2000);
Parke-Chapley Constr. Co. v. Cherrington, 865 F.2d
907, 915 (7th Cir. 1989) (“an appeal or motion for new
trial, rather than a FRCP 60(b) motion, is the proper avenue
to redress mistakes of law committed by the trial judge, as
distinguished from clerical mistakes caused by
inadvertence”); Swam v. United States., 327
F.2d 431, 433 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 379 U.S. 852
(1964) (a belief that the Court was mistaken as a matter of
law in dismissing the original petition does “not
constitute the kind of mistake or inadvertence that comes
within the ambit of rule 60(b).”).
asserts that the Court made an error of law in concluding
that he failed to exhaust his state court remedies. Much of
his argument rehashes his contention that he accomplished
exhaustion by filing his state habeas corpus petition
directly with the Illinois Supreme Court, which then
exhibited “judicial misconduct” by characterizing
his filing as a motion for leave to file a petition, which it
summarily denied. (Doc. 24, pp. 4, 5-10). He insists that he
had the choice under Illinois law to file his habeas corpus
petition in either the state circuit court or in the Illinois
Supreme Court, and he chose the latter. But even if VanSkike
were correct as to the choice of forum question, this does
not resolve the matter of exhaustion.
Court pointed out in the Order dismissing the case, VanSkike
never availed himself of the opportunity to bring a state
mandamus action before seeking relief in this Court (and a
state habeas corpus action in circuit court is also still
open to him). (Doc. 22, p. 5-7). This Court is bound to
follow the federal statute dictating that an applicant for
habeas corpus relief “shall not be deemed to have
exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State,
within the meaning of this section, if he has the right under
the law of the State to raise, by any available
procedure, the question presented.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(c) (emphasis added). It is beyond dispute that
the Illinois mandamus procedure and a habeas corpus action in
state circuit court have always been available to VanSkike to
bring his claims, and he presents no authority to the
contrary. So long as an avenue is open to him to resolve his
issue in state court, his claim remains unexhausted, and a
federal habeas corpus action is premature.
has not demonstrated any mistake of law or fact, or presented
any newly discovered evidence, that convinces the Court to
vacate the judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e). Nor has he stated
any grounds for relief within the scope of Rule 60(b).
Instead, his claims of legal error are more appropriately
presented to the appellate court.
addition to his legal arguments, VanSkike accuses the
undersigned of “criminally conspir[ing]” with the
Assistant Attorney General to “force [him] to use a now
unlawful means for a state habeas corpus” and
“willfully commit[ting] judicial misconduct”
(Doc. 24, p. 9); of “conspir[ing]” with the
Assistant Attorney General “to criminally cover-up the
judicial misconduct of the Justices of the Illinois
Court” (Doc. 24, p. 10); and claims that the dismissal
of his federal Habeas Petition “is an act of judicial
misconduct” (Doc. 24, p. 12). Such unwarranted attacks
on the integrity of the judiciary and judicial process go far
beyond appropriate legal argument and will not be tolerated.
is therefore WARNED that if he submits any
future documents to this Court including similar language or
accusations against any Judge, or otherwise impugning the
integrity of the judicial process, he will be subject to
sanctions, including but not limited to having his pleadings
stricken from the record and/or a monetary fine. See,
e.g., In re Mann, 229 F.3d 657, 659 (7th Cir.
2000) (warning pro se litigant that abusive and
disparaging language could result in sanctions);
Alexander v. United States, 121 F.3d 312 (7th Cir.
1997) (courts have inherent authority to protect themselves
from vexatious litigation; imposing fine and filing ban
pursuant to Support Systems International, Inc. v.
Mack, 45 F.3d 185 (7th Cir. 1995)); Warren v. United
States, No. 11-cv-149-JPG (S.D. Ill. Nov. 2, 2011, Doc.
16) (dismissing case with prejudice as sanction for
persistent abusive filings accusing Judge of criminal
review of the record, the Court remains persuaded that its
dismissal of the Petition as unexhausted was correct.
Therefore, the Motion to Vacate (Doc. 24) is DENIED
in part to the extent that the Order dismissing the
case and Judgment (Docs. 22 & 23) will stand. Further,
the Court shall not issue a Certificate of Appealability, for
the reasons stated in the Order at Doc. 22.
Motion is GRANTED in part as to
VanSkike's alternative request for relief: The Court
CONSTRUES the Motion (Doc. 24) as his Notice
of Appeal. The Clerk is DIRECTED to take all
necessary steps to ensure that the docket reflects VanSkike
timely filed his Notice of Appeal (Doc. 24) with this Court
as of December 11, 2019.
may reapply for a Certificate of Appealability to the United
States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit. See Fed.