United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
REX I. HATFIELD Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Defendant.
R. HERNDON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is petitioner Rex Hatfield's
(“petitioner”) Motion for Relief from Judgment
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(6) (Doc. 60), and the
government's Motion to Dismiss Petitioner's Rule
60(b)(6) Motion (Doc. 69). Based on the following,
petitioner's Rule 60(b)(6) Motion (Doc. 60) is DENIED for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction; and, the
government's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 69) is GRANTED.
December 3, 2010, petitioner was sentenced to a total of
360-months imprisonment followed by 3-years of supervised
release after being found guilty of one count of Conspiracy
to Unlawfully Enter Pharmacies to Steal Controlled Substances
pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2118(b), (d) and one count of
Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and
Distribution of Controlled Substances pursuant to 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C) and 846. See Amended
Judgment, United States v. Hatfield et al., No.
3:08-cr-30020-DRH-PMF-2 (S.D. Ill. Mar. 23, 2009), ECF No.
8, 2017, petitioner filed a Rule 60(b)(6) Motion
for Relief from Judgment arguing he was sentenced in
error-under both United States v. Lawler, 818 F.3d
281 (7th Cir. 2016) and Krieger v. United States,
842 F.3d 490 (7th Cir. 2016) (Doc. 60 at 3). Specifically,
petitioner argued that defense counsel objected to the 2D1.1
United States Sentencing Guideline enhancement applied during
sentencing in the event a change in the law was to occur
(Doc. 60 at 4). Petitioner contends under Lawler,
the Court erred by applying § 2D1.1(a)(2) because death
was not a result of a conviction for distribution of heroin
and conspiracy to possess heroin with intent to deliver
(Id.); and further, under Krieger,
Lawler is now retroactive (Id. at 5). For
relief, petitioner requests vacation of the §
2D1.1(a)(2) enhancement (Id. at 7).
response, the government filed a Motion to Dismiss the Rule
60(b) motion on the ground of procedural default because
petitioner failed to raise-on direct appeal-that the
determination of his base level offense enhanced by §
2D1.1(a)(2) should have been proven “beyond a
reasonable doubt” as opposed to “preponderance of
the evidence” (Doc. 69). The government points out
petitioner could not have raised his instant Rule 60(b)
argument during direct appeal because, at the time, the
§ 2D1.1(a)(2) enhancement was applied properly
(Id. at 5). Further, petitioner's motion-while
labeled “Motion Pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6)”-in
actuality is a successive 28 U.S.C. § 2255 petition for
habeas relief, and neither Lawler nor
Krieger announce a new and retroactive rule of
constitutional law required under Rule 60(b) (Id. at
7-9). As a result, the government requests dismissal for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction (Id. at 9).
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the method
for obtaining relief from final judgments, see Fed.
R. Civ. P. 60; see also Wesco Prods. Co. v. Alloy Auto.
Co., 880 F.2d 981, 983 (7th Cir. 1989), and is
accessible to litigants who intend to reinstate previously
dismissed habeas petitions “provided that the ground on
which relief is sought does not attack the substance of a
court's resolution of a claim on the merits[.]”
See Arrieta v Battaglia, 461 F.3d 861, 864 (7th Cir.
2006). Rule 60(b)(6), known as the “catchall clause,
” authorizes relief from judgment for any other
reason-not included in Rule 60(b)(1)-(5)-that justifies
relief, and may be granted only under extraordinary
circumstances. See Nash v. Hepp, 740 F.3d 1075, 1078
(7th Cir. 2014); see also Gonzalez v.
Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 535 (2005) (explaining movant
seeking relief under Rule 60(b)(6) must show
“extraordinary circumstances” to justify
reopening of final judgment; such circumstances rarely
occur in habeas context).
petitioner vies the ground for reopening his amended judgment
is an alleged sentencing enhancement error. However, the
Court agrees with the government and construes the instant
Rule 60(b)(6) motion as a successive § 2255 petition for
habeas relief-filed without first obtaining permission from
the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and one which is
subject to immediate dismissal. E.g., Lambert v.
Davis, 449 F.3d 774, 777 (7th Cir. 2006) (stating unless
court of appeals has given approval for filing, district
court must dismiss second or successive habeas petition). The
Court's conclusion is supported by petitioner's very
own assertion explaining failure to raise the Lawler
issue on direct appeal. In other words, petitioner admitted
he was unable to previously raise the instant matter
“pre-Lawler” because-at the time of his
sentencing-§ 2D1.1(a)(2) enhancement was analyzed under
a different standard.,  Cf. Lawler, 818 F.3d at
284 (the holding in Lawler changed prior relevant
offense conduct determination for § 2D1.1(a)(2)
death-resulting sentence enhancement from
“preponderance of the evidence” to “beyond
a reasonable doubt”).
Castro v. United States, 540 U.S. 375 (2003),
“[f]ederal courts sometimes will ignore the legal label
that a pro se litigant attaches to a motion and
recharacterize the motion in order to place it within a
different legal category.” Id. at 381.
Therefore, the Court places petitioner's
“self-styled” Rule 60(b) motion in the category
of successive § 2255 petitions since the motion directly
challenges the legitimacy of the rendered sentence, see
Guyton v. United States, 453 F.3d 425, 426-27 (7th Cir.
2006) (explaining substance of party's submission takes
precedence over form; any motion filed in district court that
imposed sentence and is substantively within scope of §
2255 is a motion under § 2255 no matter what title
inmate plasters on the cover), and falls squarely under the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act's
requirement of being dismissed. See Gonzalez, 545
U.S. at 529-30 (“any claim that has not
already been adjudicated must be dismissed unless it relies
on either a new and retroactive rule of constitutional law or
new facts showing a high probability of actual
petitioner maintains defense counsel preserved the §
2D1.1(a)(2) enhancement issue by objecting during sentencing;
in order to adequately preserve a claim for appellate review,
said claim must be raised both at trial and on direct
appeal-a requirement petitioner failed to
accomplish. See Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S.
478, 491 (1986) (explaining defendants are required to
initially raise all legal claims on direct appeal not
post-conviction review). Further, petitioner has neither
demonstrated “cause” nor “actual
prejudice” in order to gain access to procedural
default exceptions. See United States v. Kovic, 830
F.2d 680, 683.
on the foregoing, petitioner's Motion for Relief from
Judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6) (Doc. 60) is DENIED for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction; and the government's
Motion to Dismiss Petitioner's Rule 60(b)(6) (Doc. 69) is
to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A), “[b]efore a
second or successive application permitted by this section is
filed in the district court, the applicant shall move in the
appropriate court of appeals for an order authorizing the