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Fossier v. Lingle


October 6, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, District Judge


This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration (Doc. 7) of the Court's Memorandum and Order dismissing his complaint without prejudice (Doc. 6).

Technically, a "Motion to Reconsider" does not exist under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Seventh Circuit has held, however, that a motion challenging the merits of a district court order will automatically be considered as having been filed pursuant to Rule 59(e) or Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See, e.g., Mares v. Busby, 34 F.3d 533, 535 (7th Cir. 1994); United States v. Deutsch, 981 F.2d 299, 300 (7th Cir. 1992). If a motion challenging a judgment on the merits is served after ten days of the rendition of judgment, the motion falls under Rule 60(b).'" Id. (citations omitted). As of December 1, 2009, motions under Rule 59(e) must be filed "no later than 28 days after the entry" of the challenged order.

The Order dismissing this case was entered in this action on May 20, 2010, but the instant motion was not filed until June 28, 2010, after the 28-day period expired. See FED.R.CIV.P. 59(e). Therefore, as a Rule 59(e) motion, the motion is time-barred.

Under Deutsch, the Court will thus construe the motion as filed pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 60(b) provides for relief from judgment for "mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect." FED.R.CIV.P. 60(b)(1). However, the reasons offered by a movant for setting aside a judgment under Rule 60(b) 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).").

In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that he had been deprived of due process of law in connection with a disciplinary action that resulted in Plaintiff losing good time credits. In the Memorandum and Order dismissing this case, the Court stated:

A loss of good conduct credit . . .implicate[s] a liberty interest because such a loss potentially affects the length of Plaintiff's sentence. As such, Plaintiff does present a cognizable due process claim regarding good time credit revoked in this disciplinary proceeding. However, the proper method for challenging the revocation of good time credit is habeas corpus, but only after Plaintiff has exhausted his remedies through the Illinois state courts. See, e.g., Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 480-81 (1994). The Illinois courts have recognized mandamus as an appropriate remedy to compel prison officials to award sentence credit to a prisoner. See Turner-El v. West, 811 N.E.2d 728, 733 (Ill. App. 2004) (citing Taylor v. Franzen, 417 N.E.2d 242, 247, aff'd on reh'g, 420 N.E.2d 1203 (Ill.App. 1981)). The State of Illinois must first be afforded an opportunity, in a mandamus action pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/14-101 et seq. to consider the merits of Plaintiff's claim. Accordingly, this claim is dismissed without prejudice to Plaintiff bringing his claims in a properly filed habeas corpus action, but only after he has exhausted his state court remedies.

See (Doc. 6).

In the instant motion, Plaintiff merely asserts that the facts alleged in the complaint state a due process claim - presumably one that can be brought in a civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. As such, Plaintiff's motion does not suggest a clerical mistake. Instead, Plaintiff's motion challenges the Court's application of the law to the facts alleged in the complaint. Plaintiff's challenge to this Court's Memorandum and Order (Doc. 7) can be addressed in a direct appeal. Therefore, Plaintiff is not entitled to relief under Rule 60(b), and the instant motion (Doc. 7) is DENIED.




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