United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division
ORDER & OPINION
JOE BILLY MCDADE, Senior District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on Thomas Von Ryburn's ("Petitioner") "Motion to Alter or Amend the Court's Judgment of January 3rd of 2014" pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Doc. 66). For the reasons stated below, the Motion is denied.
On January 3, 2014, this Court entered an Order and Opinion denying Petitioner's Rule 60(b)(6) Motion For Relief Of Judgment. (Doc. 63). Originally, this Court granted a motion to dismiss Petitioner's § 2254 habeas petition (Doc. 24) in an Order and Opinion (Doc. 37) dated June 23, 2010. The Court dismissed the petition because it was untimely under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). The Court also found that neither statutory tolling provided in § 2244(d)(1)(B), (C), or (D), nor equitable tolling of the statute of limitations was applicable. (Doc. 37 at 21). One of the four grounds asserted in the habeas petition was a bare-bones claim of actual innocence. (Doc. 1 at 11). Petitioner also cursorily raised the issue of actual innocence in response to the motion to dismiss his petition in other written submissions to the Court. ( See, e.g., Doc. 28 and 29).
The Court declined to consider the actual innocence defense to the motion to dismiss the habeas petition because of Escamilla v. Jungwirth, 426 F.3d 868, 871-72 (7th Cir. 2005), in which the Seventh Circuit held that claims of actual innocence alone did not allow petitioners to circumvent the statute of limitations found at 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). On May 28, 2013, the United States Supreme Court decided McQuiggin v. Perkins, ___ U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 1924 (2013), in which the court held that in extremely rare circumstances, an actual innocence claim can overcome 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)'s one year statute of limitations. This Court found that while McQuiggin abrogated Escamilla, it was not extraordinary and could not justify vacating this Court's June 2, 2010 Order and Opinion (Doc. 37). (Doc. 65 at 6). The Court explicitly stated that its finding that the McQuiggin decision did not constitute an extraordinary circumstance that would justify relief under Rule 60(b)(6) was sufficient in and of itself to deny Petitioner's Rule 60(b)(6) motion. ( Id. ).
Despite that, the Court went on to explain how Petitioner's actual innocence claim was unsupported and failed. (Doc. 65 at 7-9). The Court explained how Petitioner's evidence was neither new nor reliable as those terms are explained by such cases as Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298 (1995), House v. Bell, 547 U.S. 518 (2006), and Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 624 (1998). First, the Court noted that Petitioner pleaded guilty to the offense that he challenged in his habeas petition and even attached a signed copy of his plea agreement. (Doc. 65 at 7). Pleading guilty to the offense is not an absolute bar to an actual innocence claim, Bousley, 523 U.S. at 623-24, but it is certainly weighty evidence that he actually committed the crimes to which he pled. The Court pointed out that Petitioner should have attached the transcript of the plea hearing to attack the presumption that his plea was false or constitutionally infirm. ( See Doc. 65 at 7).
Second, Petitioner offered a garage receipt to show his car was being repaired at a shop the morning of the rape but he never explained, and still has not explained, why he did not have access to this information before. In order to show actual innocence, a petitioner must point to new, reliable evidence that makes it "more likely than not that no reasonable juror would have found [him] guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." House, 547 U.S. at 536 quoting Schlup, 513 U.S. at 327. His other evidence, a transcript of an interview of a potential alibi witness was similarly unhelpful and not new. (Doc. 65 at 8).
An order denying a motion made under Rule 60 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is deemed a "judgment" for purposes of Rule 59(e). Bank of California, N.A. v. Arthur Andersen & Co., 709 F.2d 1174, 1176 (7th Cir. 1983). A motion to alter or amend judgment filed pursuant to Rule 59(e) may only be granted if a movant clearly establishes that the court made a manifest error of law or fact, or presents newly discovered evidence. LB Credit Corp. v. Resolution Trust Corp., 49 F.3d 1263, 1267 (7th Cir. 1995). A manifest error is the "wholesale disregard, misapplication, or failure to recognize controlling precedent." Oto v. metro. Life Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000) (internal quotation marks omitted). A movant may not advance in a Rule 59(e) motion arguments he should have raised before judgment was entered. Sigsworth v. City of Aurora, Ill., 487 F.3d 506, 512 (7th Cir. 2007).
Petitioner's motion fails because he has neither identified a manifest error of law or fact purportedly made by this Court nor has he presented newly discovered evidence. LB Credit Corp. v. Resolution Trust Corp., 49 F.3d 1263, 1267 (7th Cir. 1995). Petitioner fails to even address in his Rule 59(e) motion the primary reason the Court denied his Rule 60(b)(6) motion, which was that legal developments occurring after a judgment becomes final are not considered "extraordinary circumstances" that justify relief under Rule 60(b)(6). Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 537 (2005); Hill v. Rios, 722 F.3d 937, 938 (7th Cir. 2013) (explaining that "legal developments after a judgment becomes final do not qualify as extraordinary").
Petitioner claims the Court erred by not mentioning investigation notes of his attorney that show she interviewed people who could provide Petitioner with an alibi defense. The Petitioner does not argue that these notes are "newly discovered" under Rule 59(e) or "new" under Rule 60(b)(6). The notes show some witnesses could have placed Petitioner at a garage around 8:00 am on the day of the rape. (Doc. 66-1 at 12). This is important for the Petitioner because the victim stated at his sentencing hearing that she was rapad "around eight, I believe." (Doc. 66-1 at 16). This evidence regarding the victim's and witnesses' memories of the exact times they encountered Petitioner hardly establishes actual innocence in light of the fact that Petitioner pled guilty to the rape and apologized for his actions at the sentencing hearing.
Petitioner opines that by attaching the transcripts of the hearings, the Court will reconsider its ruling. The Court will not reconsider its holding because any error in not attaching the transcripts was Petitioner's and certainly not the Court's. In any event, Petitioner has now submitted transcripts of his plea hearing and sentencing hearing. Although review of these documents was not warranted under Rule 59(e) in light of Petitioner's failure to identify error in the Court's conclusion that legal developments occurring after a judgment becomes final are not considered "extraordinary circumstances" that justify relief under Rule 60(b)(6), the Court nonetheless has read them in the interests of completeness. After reviewing the transcripts of the plea and sentencing hearings, the Court is all the more convinced that Petitioner's plea was intelligent and he cannot establish that he is actually innocent of sexually assaulting the victim such that his late habeas petition is excusable.
The court who took Petitioner's plea took an extraordinary amount of time detailing every element of Petitioner's plea agreement with him. (Doc. 66-1 at 32-61). The Court explained the charges to Petitioner, took breaks for him to discuss with his counsel (Doc. 66-1 at ...