Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jones v. Cooper

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

September 29, 2017

SHAFIA JONES, Petitioner,
v.
SARAH COOPER[1], Respondent.

          ORDER DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION TO AMEND JUDGMENT (DKT NO. 45), AND DENIES THE MOTIONS AT DKT. NOS. 46, 47, 48, 49, 59, 60, 62, 63, 64, 65, 67, 69, 75, 77, 78, 79, 82 AND 84

          HON. PAMELA PEPPER United States District Judge.

         I. Background

         On October 24, 2016, petitioner Shafia Jones filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. §2254. Dkt. No. 1. The respondent filed a motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust state remedies, dkt. no. 14, and the court granted that motion, dismissing the petition without prejudice on May 8, 2017. dkt. no. 41. The court noted that a petitioner still had an available remedy under state law; she could have filed a motion under Wis.Stat. §974.06. Id. at 5. In part, the court stated:

This does not mean that the petitioner will never be able to file a habeas petition in federal court. But before she can come back to federal court, the petitioner first must file a post-conviction motion in Fond du Lac County Circuit Court, following the procedures in Wis.Stat. §974.06, and must obtain a ruling on that motion from the Fond du Lac County court.

Id. at 5.

         About three weeks later, the petitioner filed a motion under Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, asking the court to alter or amend the judgment. Dkt. No. 45. She attached to the motion her Wis.Stat. §974.06 petition, as well as the Fond Du Lac County circuit court judge's denial of that petition. Dkt. No. 45-1. The judge's decision showed that the petitioner had filed her state-court petition on May 19, 2017, and that the judge had denied it on May 23, 2017. Id. at 1. In her Rule 59(e) motion, the petitioner argued that the court erred in dismissing her petition, because she is “both actually innocent and procedurally innocent, ” and because it took the court five months to rule on her motion to dismiss. Dkt. No. 45 at 5, 4.

         The petitioner filed her Rule 59(e) motion on May 31, 2017. Dkt. No. 45. The following day-June 1, 2017-the court received three more motions from the petitioner: a motion for appointment of counsel (dkt. no. 46); a motion for an evidentiary hearing (dkt. no. 47); and a motion asking the court to expedite its ruling on her Rule 59 motion (dkt. no. 49). In addition to these motions, the petitioner filed a request for a copy of the docket (dkt. no. 50) and a request for copies of everything she had filed in the case (dkt. no. 51).

         On June 12, 2017-twelve days after the court received her Rule 59 motion-the court received from the petitioner a notice of appeal. Dkt. No. 54. The petitioner had appealed the court's May 8, 2017 order dismissing her case, and had done so before receiving the court's ruling on her Rule 59(e) motion.

         The next day-June 13, 2017-the court received from the petitioner a motion for a new judge (dkt. no. 59) and a motion to change venue (dkt. no. 60). Six days later, the court received the petitioner's motion to add parties (dkt. no. 62), her motion to produce copies of the record free of charge (dkt. no. 63); her amended Rule 59(e) motion (dkt. no. 64); her motion for summary judgment (dkt. no. 65); and her motion for judgment (dkt. no. 67). On June 28, 2017, the court receive another motion to change judge (dkt. no. 69), and a copy of a letter she sent to the chief judge of the court (dkt. no. 70). In mid-August and early September, the court received several letters from the petitioner (dkt. nos. 71, 72, 73, 74). On September 5, 2017, the court received another motion for summary judgment (dkt. no. 75). On September 15, 2017, the court received a motion to answer federal jurisdiction questions (dkt. no. 77); a motion to transfer the petitioner to another institution (dkt. no. 78); and an expedited motion for ruling on the Rule 59(e) motion (dkt. no. 79). Finally, she has filed a motion for a jury trial (dkt. no. 82) and another motion to substitute judge (dkt. no. 84). All told, in the four months since she filed her Rule 59(e) motion, the petitioner has filed seventeen (18) motions.

         II. Discussion

         A. Rule 59(e)

         Rule 59(e) allows a court to alter or amend a judgment if a party asks the court to do so no later than twenty-eight days after the judgment is entered. The court received the petitioner's Rule 59(e) motion twenty-three days after it entered judgment; her motion was timely filed.

         The law, however, provides very specific grounds for granting a motion to alter or amend judgment. A court may grant such a motion “only if the petitioner can demonstrate a manifest error of law or present newly discovered evidence.” Obriecht v. Raemisch, 517 F.3d 489, 494 (7th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). The petitioner in this case has not presented the court with any newly-discovered evidence. In order for the court to grant her motion, then, she must demonstrate a manifest error of law.

         The petitioner argues that the court took five months to rule on the respondent's motion to dismiss (and on all the motions she had filed prior to the court's ruling). That delay does not constitute a “manifest error of law.” “A ‘manifest error' is not demonstrated by the disappointment of the losing party. It is the ‘wholesale disregard, misapplication, or failure to recognize controlling precedent.'” Oto v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000) (citation omitted). A five-month wait to receive a decision is not the wholesale disregard, misapplication or failure to recognize controlling precedent.

         The petitioner argues that she has exhausted her remedies. It is true that the petitioner paid attention to the court's May 8, 2017 order, which told her that she could exhaust her remedies in state court by filing a Wis.Stat. §974.06 petition there. She filed that petition, the state court judge denied it on May 23, 2017, and she received his decision on May 26, 2017. Dkt. No. 45-1. She still has not exhausted her state remedies, however. She has not appealed the state court judge's decision. “Exhaustion is accomplished when claims have been presented to the highest state court for a ruling on the merits . . . .” Farrell v. Lane, 939 F.2d 409, 410 (7th Cir. 1991). The petitioner will not have exhausted her claim until she has appealed the state court judge's denial of her §974.06 petition all the way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

         Even if the petitioner had now fully exhausted her state court remedies, she could not demonstrate that this court's May 8, 2017 decision that she had not exhausted her remedies constitute a manifest error of law. As of May 8, 2017, the petitioner had not exhausted her remedies; doing so after the fact does not mean that the court erred when it said she hadn't done so at the time of the decision.[2]

         The petitioner argues that the court should grant her Rule 59(e) motion because she is actually innocent of the crime with which she was charged. The Supreme Court has held that actual innocence can be a “gateway” to federal habeas relief when a petitioner faces a procedural bar. McQuiggin v. Perkins, 133 S.Ct. 1924, 1928 (2013) (citations omitted). But in order to take advantage of the actual innocence “gateway, ” a petitioner must “persuade[] the district court that, in light of the new evidence, no juror, acting reasonably, would have voted to find [her] guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” Id. (quoting Schlup v. Delo, 513 U.S. 298, 329 (1995).

         In her original federal habeas petition, the petitioner stated the following in support of her claim of actual innocence:

Petitioner is innocent of the crime in which she has been illegally convicted of and State of WI Fond Du Lac lacks evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Also there are no elements of the crime to constitute Petitioners alleged guilt of crime of Robbery of a Financial Institution. Petitioner is innocent of the crime and should have all charges vacated and Petitioner shall be exonerated and have record expunged.

Dkt. No. 1 at 7-8. This does not constitute evidence that no reasonable juror would have voted her guilty on the bank robbery charge. It does not constitute evidence at ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.