United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
AHAMAD R. ATKINS, Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PHIL GILBERT, DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on petitioner Ahamad R.
Atkins' motion to alter or amend the judgment in this
case pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) (Doc.
55). In this case, Atkins asked to Court to vacate, set aside
or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255
(Doc. 1). The Court disposed of several of Atkins'
proposed grounds for that relief in its preliminary review of
the motion (Doc. 21) and disposed of the remaining proposed
grounds in a later order (Doc. 51). On May 21, 2019, the
Court entered judgment denying Atkins' § 2255 motion
in its entirety and entering judgment in the Government's
favor (Doc. 54). Atkins now asks the Court to alter or amend
that judgment (Doc. 55).
Court construes Atkins' June 3, 2019, under Rule 59(e)
because it was filed within 28 days of entry of judgment and
seeks relief available under that rule. Where a substantive
motion for reconsideration is filed within 28 days of entry
of judgment and asserts a ground for relief under Rule 59(e),
the Court will construe it as a motion pursuant to Rule
59(e); motions asserting grounds for relief under Rule 60(b)
or later motions will be construed as pursuant to Rule 60(b).
See Carter v. City of Alton, 922 F.3d 824, 826 n. 1
(7th Cir. 2019) (Rule 59(e) governs motions to reconsider
filed within 28 days of entry of judgment); Obriecht v.
Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 493 (7th Cir. 2008) (motions
filed within Rule 59(e) period construed based on their
substance, not their timing or label); Mares v.
Busby, 34 F.3d 533, 535 (7th Cir. 1994) (considering
prior version of Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) providing ten-day
deadline for motion to alter or amend judgment).
Court first addresses its jurisdiction to decide the pending
Rule 59(e) motion in light of Atkins' timely notice of
appeal (Doc. 56) of the judgment that he now asks the Court
to reconsider. Ordinarily, a notice of appeal “divests
the district court of its control over those aspects of the
case involved in the appeal.” Griggs v. Provident
Consumer Discount Co., 459 U.S. 56, 58 (1982);
accord May v. Sheahan, 226 F.3d 876, 879 (7th Cir.
2000). However, where a party files a timely notice of appeal
and a timely Rule 59(e) motion, the notice becomes
effective only after the order disposing of the Rule 59(e)
motion. Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(4)(B)(i); see Katerinos v.
U.S. Dep't of Treasury, 368 F.3d 733, 737 (7th Cir.
2004). As a consequence, the Court has jurisdiction to decide
this motion despite Atkins' timely notice of appeal.
Rule 59(e), a court has the opportunity to consider newly
discovered material evidence or intervening changes in the
controlling law or to correct its own manifest errors of law
or fact to avoid unnecessary appellate procedures. Moro
v. Shell Oil Co., 91 F.3d 872, 876 (7th Cir. 1996);
see Harrington v. City of Chi., 433 F.3d 542, 546
(7th Cir. 2006). A “manifest error” occurs when
the district court commits a “wholesale disregard,
misapplication, or failure to recognize controlling
precedent.” Burritt v. Ditlefsen, 807 F.3d
239, 253 (7th Cir. 2015) (internal quotations and citations
omitted). Rule 59(e) “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.” Moro,
91 F.3d at 876. Rule 59(e) relief is only available if the
movant clearly establishes one of the foregoing grounds for
relief. Harrington, 433 F.3d at 546 (citing Romo
v. Gulf Stream Coach, Inc., 250 F.3d 1119, 1122 n. 3
(7th Cir. 2001)).
Rule 59(e) motion, Atkins does not present any evidence or
argument warranting reconsideration of the judgment in this
case. He makes a general plea for the Court to reconsider its
rulings on all his alleged instances of ineffective
assistance of counsel and asks for leave to submit additional
exhibits for the Court's consideration. He does not
assert that any of the additional evidence he wants to submit
is newly discovered.
Atkins wants to submit an additional document in connection
with his ineffective assistance of counsel argument relating
to sentencing counsel's performance in making objections
to the presentence investigation report. Presumably, he
possessed this document since around the time of his
sentencing proceedings when he was exchanging letters and
documents with his sentencing counsel, so it is not newly
discovered. However, he did not submit the document with his
Rule 59(e) motion, and he has not offered any reason he was
not able to submit this document earlier in the case.
also wants to submit other unidentified documents he failed
to submit with his § 2255 motion in February 2017. He
claims the staff at the Gilmer Federal Correctional
Institution (“FCI-Gilmer”) refused to make the
necessary copies for him and that, as a consequence, the
Court rejected some of his arguments in its June 25, 2018,
preliminary review order (Doc. 21). The Court is not
persuaded by this argument for why Atkins did not submit
those documents with his § 2255 motion. Atkins was not
housed at FCI-Gilmer when he filed his § 2255 motion
(see Doc. 1 at 99); instead, he was housed at that
time at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky
(“FMC-Lexington”), so FCI-Gilmer staff could not
have impaired his ability to submit those documents. He was
not transferred to FCI-Gilmer until October 2018 (Doc. 26),
months after the Court completed its preliminary review of
his § 2255 motion. Furthermore, in the absence of any
indication of the substance of the documents, the Court finds
no basis to believe they might justify reconsideration of the
Atkins has not pointed to any newly discovered material
evidence or any intervening change in the controlling law
that would justify altering or amending the judgment.
Additionally, he has said nothing to convince the Court that
it made any manifest errors of law or fact that should be
corrected to avoid an unnecessary appeal. In the 74 pages
comprising the two orders leading to judgment, the Court
exhaustively addressed the numerous grounds for relief
asserted in Atkins' 98-page § 2255 motion, and there
is no need for further examination of the issues. For these
reasons, the Court DENIES Atkins' motion
to alter or amend the judgment (Doc. 55).
Court DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to send a
copy of this order to the Court of Appeals for its use in
connection with Appeal No. 19-2062. The Court further
DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to change
Atkins' address on the docket sheet to reflect his
transfer to FCI- Bennettsville, Federal Correctional
Institution, P.O. Box 52020, Bennettsville, SC 29512, and to
send him a copy of this order at that new address.