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Olukayode O. v. Rodriguez

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

February 11, 2019

OLUKAYODE O., Petitioner,
v.
ORLANDO RODRIGUEZ, Respondents.

          OPINION

          JOSE L. LINARES, CHIEF JUDGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         Presently before the Court is the motion seeking reconsideration of the Court's denial of Petitioner Olukayode O.'s habeas petition brought pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 19). For the following reasons, Petitioner's motion is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In this Court's prior opinion denying Petitioner's habeas petition, this Court summarized the background of this matter as follows:

Petitioner is a native and citizen of Nigeria who entered the United States on a non-immigrant visa in October 2010. (ECF No. 8-2 at 3). Although Petitioner was authorized to remain in the United States only until April 2011, he did not leave when that authorization expired. (ECF No. 8-2 at 3). During this period of overstay, in July 2011, Petitioner was arrested on wire fraud charges. (ECF No. 8-2 at 3). These charges resulted in Petitioner's February 27, 2014, conviction for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to possess with intent to use unlawfully five or more false ID documents in the Eastern District of New York. (ECF No. 8-2 at 3). While Petitioner's appeal of that conviction was pending, and thus while his conviction was not yet final for immigration purposes, see Orabi v. Att'y Gen., 738 F.3d 535, 542 (3d Cir. 2014) (conviction not final for immigration purposes until direct appeal concluded), Petitioner was taken into immigration custody on March 14, 2014, and placed into removal proceedings based on his overstaying his visa. (ECF No. 8-2 at 3).
On May 7, 2014, Petitioner appeared before an immigration judge for a bond hearing. (ECF No. 8-8 at 3). At that hearing, the immigration judge determined that Petitioner was held pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1226(a), and granted Petitioner bond in the amount of $50, 000. (ECF No. 8-8 at 3). Apparently unable to pay that bond, Petitioner thereafter sought a bond redetermination, and the immigration judge lowered his bond to $22, 500 in August 2014. (ECF No. 8-8 at 3). Petitioner appealed, and the Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed that bond amount. (ECF No. 8-8 at 3).
As he was still unable to pay this bond amount, and because he otherwise believed he was then in custody based solely on his conviction, which was still on direct appeal at the time, Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in this Court challenging his § 1226(a) detention in December 2014. (Docket No. 14-7951, ECF No. 1). On March 31, 2015, in lieu of a response to that petition, the Government filed with this Court a joint stipulation of dismissal in which the Government and Petitioner agreed to lower Petitioner's bond amount to an amount he could afford, and in exchange Petitioner agreed to the dismissal of his habeas petition as moot. (Docket No. 14-7951, ECF No. 7). This Court granted that joint request for a dismissal that same day. (Docket No. 14-7951, ECF No. 8). On April 7, 2015, Petitioner appeared for a new bond hearing, during which the Government, pursuant to the joint stipulation, agreed to a lower bond amount of $2, 000. (ECF No. 8-8 at 4). Petitioner paid that amount and was released on bond. (ECF No. 8-8 at 4). Petitioner remained on bond thereafter until April 2018.
While Petitioner was released on bond, his direct appeal of his conviction proceeded. On November 19, 2015, however, the Second Circuit affirmed Petitioner's conviction. United States v. Ojo, 630 Fed.Appx. 83 (2d Cir. 2015). Petitioner thereafter sought review from the Supreme Court, but his petition for certiorari was denied on March 21, 2016. Ojo v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1473 (2016). Petitioner's fraud conviction therefore became final for immigration purposes in March 2016.
Petitioner's immigration proceedings thereafter continued. On April 12, 2018, however, following a hearing in Petitioner's case, the Government amended its charges of removability against Petitioner to include several charges based on his now final fraud convictions. (ECF No. 8-2 at 4). Based on that same final conviction, Petitioner was once again taken into immigration detention that same date, albeit this time pursuant to the mandatory detention provision of 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c). (ECF No. 8-2 at 4). Petitioner thereafter appeared for another custody hearing in June 2018, which resulted in bond being denied as an immigration judge determined that Petitioner was subject to mandatory detention pursuant to § 1226(c). (ECF No. 8-19). Petitioner has remained detained since that time, and his removal proceedings are ongoing.

(ECF No. 16 at 1-3).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The scope of a motion to amend a judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e) is extremely limited. See Blystone v. Horn, 664 F.3d 397, 415 (3d Cir. 2011). A Rule 59(e) motion may be employed "only to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Id. '"Accordingly, a judgment may be altered or amended [only] if the party seeking reconsideration shows at least one of the following grounds: (1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court [decided the motion], or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice.'" Id. (quoting Howard Hess Dental Labs., Inc. v. Dentsply Int'l Inc., 602 F.2d 237, 251 (3d Cir. 2010)). In this context, manifest injustice "generally... means that the Court overlooked some dispositive factual or legal matter that was presented to it," or that a "direct, obvious, and observable" error occurred. See Brown v. Zickefoose, No. 11-3330, 2011 WL 5007829, at *2 n.3 (D.N.J. Oct. 18, 2011) (citations and quotation marks omitted).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. ...


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