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Robert Lee Edwards v. Michael Pentangelo

July 2, 2012

ROBERT LEE EDWARDS
v.
MICHAEL PENTANGELO, ET AL.



Name of Assigned Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr. Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge than Assigned Judge

CASE TITLE

DOCKET ENTRY TEXT

For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion to alter or amend judgment [38] is denied.

O[ For further details see text below.] Docketing to mail notices. Notices mailed by Judicial staff.

STATEMENT

Plaintiff Robert Edwards, a former federal prisoner, brought a one-count Bivens action against Defendants Michael Pentangelo and Jeanne Walsh, two U.S. Probation officers. Edwards alleged that Pentangelo and Walsh violated Edwards's due process rights by improperly restricting his movements while he was staying at a Salvation Army residential re-entry facility as part of his supervised release.

In view of the novelty of Plaintiff's claim, the Court appointed counsel to represent Plaintiff in this matter [see 23]. After briefing on Defendants' motion to dismiss, the Court concluded that Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted and dismissed his case. Plaintiff now has brought a motion to alter or amend the Court's judgment order, provide relief from judgment, and/or for leave to file an amended complaint [38]. Many of Plaintiff's arguments simply rehash prior arguments made in opposition to Defendants' motion to dismiss. As to those arguments, the Court remains unpersuaded. To the extent that Plaintiff alleges additional facts in support of his claim, they fail to make a difference to the outcome. Finally, even giving Plaintiff the benefit of every doubt and every possible inference, a third amended complaint would be futile because, at a minimum, Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity.

I. Legal Standard on Motion to Alter or Amend

A court may alter or amend a judgment when the movant "clearly establish[es]" that "there is newly discovered evidence or there has been a manifest error of law or fact." Harrington v. City of Chicago, 433 F.3d 542, 546 (7th Cir. 2006). In regard to the "manifest error" prong, the Seventh Circuit has elaborated that a motion to reconsider is proper only when "the Court has patently misunderstood a party, or has made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented to the Court by the parties, or has made an error not of reasoning but of apprehension." Bank of Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese Sales, Inc., 906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th Cir. 1990).

STATEMENT

While the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow a movant to bring to a court's attention a manifest error of law, it "does not provide a vehicle for a party to undo its own procedural failures, and it certainly does not allow a party to introduce new evidence or advance arguments that could and should have been presented to the district court prior to the judgment." Bordelon v. Chicago School Reform Bd. of Trustees, 233 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir. 2000). And because the standards for reconsideration are exacting, our court of appeals has stressed that issues appropriate for reconsideration "rarely arise and the motion to reconsider should be equally rare." Bank of Waunakee, 906 F.2d at 1191.

Before entry of judgment, there is a presumption in favor of freely amending pleadings under Rule 15(a). This presumption, however, "is reversed after judgment has been entered." First Nat'l Bank of Louisville v. Continental Ill. Nat'l Bank & Trust Co. of Chicago, 933 F.2d 466, 468 (7th Cir. 1991). Said differently, although before judgment is entered leave to amend pleadings is to be freely given as justice requires, "justice may require something less in post-judgment situations than in pre-judgment situations." Doe v. Howe Military Sch., 227 F.3d 981, 989 (7th Cir. 2000). In addition, a post-judgment request for leave to amend a complaint can be denied for any of the ordinary reasons leave to amend may be denied, including undue delay, bad faith, prejudice to the opponent, dilatory motive on the part of the moving party, or when amendment would be futile. Crestview Vill. Apartments v. HUD, 383 F.3d 552, 558 (7th Cir. 2004); Rodriguez v. United States, 286 F.3d 972, 980 (7th Cir. 2002).

II. Analysis

The Court briefly restates the factual background alleged by Plaintiff Edwards. Edwards originally was sentenced by Judge Elaine Bucklo on November 26, 1996, after pleading guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. § 930 (Count I) and 18 U.S.C. § 111 (Count II). At that time, Edwards received a five-year prison term on Count I and a ten-year prison term on Count II, to run consecutively. Edwards also was sentenced to three years of supervised release on Count I and ...


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