United States District Court, D. New Jersey
before the Court is Petitioner Anthony Massey's
(“Petitioner's”) motion for reconsideration
(D.E. No. 45 (“Motion”)) of this Court's
December 19, 2018 Opinion and Order denying habeas relief
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (D.E. Nos. 43 & 44).
Respondents have not filed an opposition. The Clerk will be
ordered to reopen this matter so that the Court may rule on
the Motion. For the reasons stated below, the Motion is
The Motion's Claims
Court summarized the factual and procedural background of
this sexual assault and burglary case in its December 19,
2018 Opinion, which is incorporated herein by reference.
(D.E. No. 43 at 1-6).
Motion, Petitioner asserts various criticisms of his trial
counsel, Alan Bowman, Esquire (“Mr. Bowman”).
Petitioner states that Mr. Bowman “testified that he
did not do an investigation” into the “man that
[victim] J.L. introduced . . . to [her neighbor] Ms. Quentero
. . .as [J.L.'s] husband . . . . No. investigation is
deficient counsel.” (D.E. No. 45 at 5). Petitioner
alleges that although Mr. Bowman told the state court
“that he was looking for said man as a result of the
DNA evidence which excluded [Petitioner] as [a] contributor
to [a specimen from the victim], . . . [Mr. Bowman]
lied.” (Id. at 5). Petitioner contends that
“[p]ossible doubt may well have been reasonable doubt
at trial if [counsel had put] [apartment manager] Mr.
Laderman's testimony before the jury.”
(Id. at 6). Petitioner claims that “[t]o hold
[Petitioner] accountable for what is determined to be
unexhausted claims is unfair.” (Id. at 6). He
insists that “[f]ailure to do an investigation by trial
attorney is the bas[i]s for [his] ineffective assistance of
counsel [claim].” (Id. at 6-7).
Petitioner's Motion contends that he is “actually
innocent.” (Id. at 6 & 7).
Court reasonably construes the Motion as essentially
re-alleging Ground Two of Petitioner's § 2254
Petition. (D.E. No. 1). In Ground Two, Petitioner had claimed
that: (1) his trial counsel “fail[ed] to
investigate” (id. at 17); (2) “[Martin]
Laderman's testimony should have been put before [the]
jury” and that Mr. Bowman failed to investigate
“phone records” (id.); and (3) trial
counsel (a) made no search “for the person [the victim]
introduced to Claudia Quintero as her husband; (b) did not
search for “a possible DNA match . . . that excluded
Petitioner;” (c) did not “request a complete DNA
analysis of other evidence collected [from J.L.'s
apartment]; (d) did not investigate “missing
investigative reports;” and (e) did not “contact
investigating Det[ectives] Larry Malang and Luis Cruz”
The Motion Fails to Satisfy Petitioner's Burden For
scope of a motion for reconsideration of a final judgment
under Rule 59(e) is extremely limited. Blystone v.
Horn, 664 F.3d 397, 415 (3d Cir. 2011); Woodson v.
Unknown Agents of Unknown Agency, No. 14-7033, 2015 WL
71156, at *2 (D.N.J. Jan. 6, 2015). It requires the moving
party to set forth the factual matters or controlling legal
authorities it believes the Court overlooked when rendering
its initial decision. Id.; see L. Civ. R.
7.1(i). “The purpose of a motion for reconsideration .
. . is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to
present newly discovered evidence.” Max's
Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176
F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999) (quoting Harsco Corp. v.
Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985) (internal
quotation marks omitted)).
such, in order to prevail on a motion for reconsideration
under Rule 59(e), the movant must show: “(1) an
intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the
availability of new evidence that was not available when the
court [rendered the judgment in question]; or (3) the need to
correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest
injustice.” Blystone, 664 F.3d at 415; see
U.S. ex rel. Schumann v. Astrazeneca Pharm. L.P., 769
F.3d 837, 848-49 (3d Cir. 2014). To prevail under the third
prong, the movant must show that “dispositive factual
matters or controlling decisions of law were brought to the
court's attention but not considered.” Mitchell
v. Twp. of Willingboro Municipality Gov't, 913
F.Supp.2d 62, 77-78 (D.N.J. 2012) (cleaned up). “The
standard of review involved in a motion for reconsideration
is high and relief is to be granted sparingly.”
Id. at 78.
there has been no intervening change in the controlling law;
there is no new evidence that was not available when the
Court denied the Petition; and there is no need to correct a
clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice.
Instead, Petitioner merely disagrees with the Court's
previous holding (D.E. No. 45 at 4-8), which is not a ground
for reconsideration. See Assisted Living Assocs. of
Moorestown, LLC v. Moorestown Twp., 996 F.Supp. 409, 442
the Court finds that one particular contention in the Motion
warrants clarification, in light of Petitioner's pro
se status. Petitioner suggests that the Court's
December 19, 2018 Opinion held him “accountable”
for “unexhausted claims.” (D.E. No. 45 at 6). His
contention misunderstands the governing law and this
Court's December 19, 2018 habeas ruling. In that habeas
Opinion, this Court determined that (1) the state court
ruling on the Laderman IAC Claim was not contrary to or an
unreasonable application of United States Supreme Court
precedent, and thus habeas relief was denied; and (2) while
the Phone Records Investigation Claim, Other Witnesses IAC
Claim, and Evidence Search Claim were not fairly presented to
state courts and thus appeared unexhausted, this Court
could-and did-nevertheless deny them on the merits. (D.E. No.
43 at 11-19). A federal court may not grant a writ under
§ 2254 unless the petitioner has first “exhausted
the remedies available in the courts of the State.” 28
U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A). In other words, given that
Petitioner did not fairly present the Phone Records
Investigation Claim, Other Witnesses IAC Claim, and Evidence
Search Claim to each level of New Jersey state courts before
he filed his § 2254 Petition, those claims were
unexhausted-which could prevent a federal habeas court from
ruling on them altogether.
Court nevertheless determined, as it may properly do under 28
U.S.C. § 2254(b)(2), that those claims' unexhausted
status did not preclude a ruling on their merits.
The Court in fact proceeded to rule on them. See Taylor
v. Horn, 504 F.3d 416, 427 (3d Cir. 2007);
Bronshtein v. Horn, 404 F.3d 700, 728 (3d Cir.
2005). Petitioner was not held “accountable” for