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Crockett v. Kelley

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division

November 16, 2017

THOMAS CROCKETT PETITIONER
v.
WENDY KELLEY, Director of the Arkansas Department of Correction RESPONDENT

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION

         INSTRUCTIONS

         The following proposed Findings and Recommendation have been sent to United States District Judge D.P. Marshall Jr. You may file written objections to all or part of this Recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your objection, and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation. By not objecting, you may waive the right to appeal questions of fact.

         DISPOSITION

         In 1987, petitioner Thomas Crockett (“Crockett”) filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2254 in Crockett v. Lockhart, PB-C-87-341. See Docket Entry 1, Exhibit 1. In the petition, he maintained that his 1983 Phillips County, Arkansas, guilty plea should be set aside for the following reasons: 1) the plea was involuntary and not intelligently entered, 2) it was the result of a coerced confession, 3) the plea was obtained in violation of his right against self-incrimination, and 4) his trial attorney was ineffective. United States Magistrate Judge H. David Young denied the petition and dismissed PB-C-87-341.[1] Judge Young found that Crockett's first three claims were procedurally barred from federal court review, and his fourth claim had no merit. Crockett appealed, but the Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal as frivolous.

         On September 5, 2017, Crockett filed a submission he identified as a motion for relief from judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6). See Docket Entry 1. In the submission, he alleged the following:

... [T]his application [is filed] pursuant to Federal Rule[] of Civil Procedure ... 60(b) requesting this Court reopen the previously decided habeas petition in Crockett v. Lockhart, No. PB-C-87-341. Petitioner seeks to have the Court vacate its Order denying habeas corpus relief for the purpose of correcting a defect in the manner in which the original habeas petition was initially decided. Specifically, (1) Petitioner asserts that a wrongful finding of a procedural bar was entered in this case; (2) even if a procedural bar was proper, new rules of the Supreme Court establish cause and prejudice for overcoming the bar; and (3) Schlup v. Delo serves a gateway through which any procedurally-barred claim can now be heard due to actual innocence. Schlup had not been decided at the time of the instant habeas petition. The Court also issued final judgment on the petition prior to the Supreme Court decision in Williams v. Taylor, ...
As explained herein, Petitioner is entitled to relief from this Court's Order denying habeas relief under provisions of Rule 60(b)(6), and his application should not be considered a second or successive petition as it is not inconsistent with 28 U.S.C. Section 2244(b).

See Docket Entry 1 at CM/ECF 1-2. (Emphasis omitted). Crockett asked that PB-C-87-341 be reopened and a hearing be held on his first three claims pursuant to Trevino v. Thaler, 569 U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 1911, 185 L.Ed.2d 1044 (2013), and a hearing be held on his fourth claim pursuant to Trevino v. Thaler and Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298 (1995).[2]

         Upon receiving Crockett's submission, the Clerk of the Court did not file it as a motion pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6). Instead, the Clerk of the Court opened this case-a new case-and filed the submission as a petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2254.

         Crockett soon discovered that his submission had not been filed in PB-C-87-341 as a motion pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6) but had been filed in this case as a petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2254. He then filed the pending motion to clarify. See Docket Entry 2. In the motion, he alleged the following:

Petitioner had previously filed a Motion for Relief from Judgment Pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6) seeking to have this Court reopen the previously decided habeas petition in No. PB-C-87-341. Petitioner had alleged that a wrongful finding of a procedural bar was imposed and that based on Schlup v. Delo, as well as other cases decided since the final decision in his case, he was entitled to habeas relief.
On September 5, 2017, the motion was filed, but was restyled as a habeas petition. This is erroneous, in that Petitioner never intended for it to be labeled as such. In fact, he is aware of the requirements for filing a successive petition, but he specifically asked the Court to not consider this motion as one.
Petitioner seeks clarification from this Court as to whether it will treat the Rule 60(b) motion as a new habeas or a successive one. If it was erroneously labeled a habeas, Petitioner asks that the record be altered to indicate that this is a Rule 60(b) motion. Otherwise, in the alternative, if the Court is not treating this as a successive petition, but rather as a new one, he asks the Court to stay the instant motion and allow the Petitioner to file a detailed habeas and brief in support to raise claims that he could not raise in a 60(b) motion.
If, in fact, the Court is treating this as a successive habeas, he [1] moves the Court to allow him to brief the matter more fully to expound on why the instant motion should not be treated ... as such or [2] he be allowed to petition the Eighth Circuit ...

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