United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
O. Hickey United States District Judge.
William Davis is an inmate in the Arkansas Department of
Correction under a sentence of death for the 1990 murder of
Jane Daniel. Mr. Davis's execution is scheduled for April
17, 2017. On April 12, 2017, Davis filed a Motion for Relief
from Judgment Pursuant to Federal Rule 60(b)(6) (Doc. 50) and
Motion for Stay of Execution (Doc. 51). Following briefing by
the parties, this Court heard oral arguments. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court finds that both motions should be
was convicted of capital murder on March 6, 1992 and was
sentenced by the jury to death on March 9, 1992. The Arkansas
Supreme Court affirmed Davis's conviction and sentence on
October 4, 1993. See Davis v. State, 863 S.W.2d 259
(Ark. 1993). The United States Supreme Court denied
certiorari on April 4, 1994. Davis v. Arkansas, 511
U.S. 1026 (1994).
petition for relief pursuant to Rule 37 of the Arkansas Rules
of Criminal Procedure was filed on behalf of Davis on May 5,
1994. An amended petition was later filed and an evidentiary
hearing was held. The state circuit court denied relief on
June 29, 1999. That decision was affirmed by the Arkansas
Supreme Court on May 31, 2001. Davis v. State, 44
S.W.3d 726 (Ark. 2001).
April 1, 2002, Davis filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas
Corpus in this Court. (Doc. 17). The petition was denied on
January 28, 2004. (Doc. 29). The Eighth Circuit Court of
Appeals granted a certificate of appealability on two issues:
(1) whether Davis's right to due process was violated
under Ake v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68, 82-83 (1985) by
the trial court's denial of funds for an independent
mental health expert and (2) whether appellate counsel
ineffectively litigated the denial of expert funds on direct
appeal. On September 14, 2005, the Eighth Circuit denied
relief on both issues. The Court also refused to grant a
hearing pursuant to Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304
(2002). Davis v. Norris, 423 F.3d 868, 879
(8th Cir. 2005).
February 27, 2017, the Governor of the State of Arkansas set
Davis's execution for April 17, 2017.
now seeks relief from his habeas judgment pursuant to Rule
60(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Davis also
seeks a stay of execution due to the pending Rule 60(b)(6)
argues that relief should be granted under Rule 60(b)(6) and
that the Court should consider, pursuant to Martinez v.
Ryan, 132 S.Ct. 1309 (2012) and Trevino v.
Thaler, 133 S.Ct. 1911 (2013), certain claims the Court
previously ruled had been procedurally
defaulted. According to the motion, the procedurally
defaulted claim at issue is Claim IV of Davis's habeas
petition, which argued that trial counsel rendered
ineffective assistance at the penalty phase in violation of
the Sixth Amendment by failing to present a witness to
evaluate and explain the school and institutional records
introduced and failing to present other witnesses in
28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A), a second or successive habeas
petition should be dismissed for failure to obtain
authorization from the Court of Appeals. A Rule 60(b)(6)
motion will be considered a second or successive habeas
corpus application if it contains a “claim.”
Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 532 (2005). To
determine whether a motion is a second or successive habeas
corpus application, “claim is defined as an
‘asserted federal basis for relief from a state
court's judgment of conviction' or as an attack on
the ‘federal court's previous resolution of the
claim on the merits.'” Ward v.
Norris, 577 F.3d 925, 933 (8th Cir. 2009)
(quoting Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 530, 532). However,
the motion does not attack a judgment “on the
merits” if it “merely asserts that a previous
ruling which precluded a merits determination was in error -
for example, a denial for such reasons as . . . procedural
default.” Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 532, n. 4.
as set forth above, Davis requests relief through a challenge
to this Court's determination that certain claims were
procedurally defaulted, relying on Martinez v. Ryan,
132 S.Ct. 1309 (2012) and Trevino v. Thaler, 133
S.Ct. 1911 (2013). To the extent that Davis's motion
concerns the exact claim set forth in Claim IV of his
petition, which was found procedurally barred by this Court,
the restrictions applicable to second or successive petitions
do not apply.
60(b)(6) “permits a court to reopen a judgment for
‘any . . . reason that justifies relief.'”
Buck v. Davis, 137 S.Ct. 759, 777 (2017). However,
to obtain relief from judgment under Rule 60(b)(6), a movant
must request relief “within a reasonable time”
and must demonstrate “‘extraordinary
circumstances' justifying the reopening of a final
judgment.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(c)(1). Gonzalez v.
Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 535 (2005). The rule “vests
wide discretion in courts, but . . . only in
Buck, 137 S.Ct. at 777. The court may consider a
wide range of factors to determine whether extraordinary
circumstances are present, including “‘the risk
of injustice to the parties' and ‘the risk of
undermining the public's confidence in the judicial
process.'” Id. (quoting Liljeberg v.
Health Services Acquisition Corp., 486 U.S. 847, 863-64
(1988)). However, “[s]uch circumstances will rarely
occur in the habeas context.” Gonzalez, 545
U.S. at 535.
courts have addressed Rule 60(b)(6) with respect to
Martinez and Trevino. Many have noted
that “[g]enerally, a change in the law that would have
governed the dispute, had the dispute not already been
decided, is not by itself an extraordinary
circumstance.” Kansas Pub. Emps. Ret. Sys. v.
Reimer & Koger Assocs., Inc., 194 F.3d 922, 925
(8th Cir. 1999). However, the recent Supreme Court
decision in Buck v. Davis, 137 S.Ct. 759, 777-78
(2017) appears to clarify the fact that a Rule ...