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Burns v. Johnson

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 29, 2019

RONALD BURNS, Petitioner,
v.
STEVEN JOHNSON, et al., Respondents.

          OPINION

          ROBERT B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Petitioner's motion to amend judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). (ECF Nos. 11, 12[1]). Petitioner requests that the Court reconsider its April 25, 2018, Opinion and Order dismissing his Petition for lack of jurisdiction as second or successive. (ECF Nos. 5, 6).

         I. BACKGROUND

         As Petitioner is intimately familiar with the facts of his case, and because the Court has already set forth the background of this case in an earlier Opinion, the Court will only set forth facts necessary to address the instant motion. Petitioner challenges a March 28, 2002, judgment of conviction from the Superior Court of New Jersey. (ECF No. 1, at 35).

         On appeal, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, sua sponte reversed in light of an issue regarding the testimony of a witness. See State v. Burns, No. A-6273-01T4, 2006 WL 1275077, at *2 ( N.J.Super.Ct.App.Div. May 11, 2006), rev'd, 929 A.2d 1041 (N.J. 2007). The New Jersey Supreme Court granted the State's petition for certification and, on July 26, 2007, reversed and remanded the case for reinstatement of Petitioner's judgment of conviction. See State v. Burns, 929 A.2d 1041, 1059 (N.J. 2007).

         Petitioner then filed a petition for post-conviction relief (“PCR”) in August of 2017 and received a denial at each level of review, the last of which on November 30, 2012, when the New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification. See State v. Burns, 64 A.3d 237 (2012).

         On March 22, 2013, Petitioner filed a habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (hereinafter “First Petition”), and in a comprehensive Opinion, this Court denied the First Petition on the merits. See Burns v. Warren, No. 13-1929, 2016 WL 1117946 (D.N.J. Mar. 22, 2016). The Third Circuit denied a certificate of appealability on May 16, 2017, Burns v. Adm'r New Jersey State Prison, No. 16-1875, 2017 WL 4574445, at *1 (3d Cir. May 16, 2017), and the Supreme Court denied Petitioner's petition for writ of certiorari on January 8, 2018. See Burns v. Johnson, 138 S.Ct. 664 (2018).

         While Petitioner's First Petition was pending, Petitioner filed a motion for a new trial in the Superior Court of New Jersey, received a denial on August 5, 2015, and on April 12, 2017, the Appellate Division affirmed. See State v. Burns, No. A-446-15T4, 2017 WL 1337501, at *1 ( N.J.Super.Ct.App.Div. Apr. 12, 2017). The New Jersey Supreme Court denied certification on October 16, 2017. See State v. Burns, 174 A.3d 516 (N.J. 2017).

         Thereafter, on December 5, 2017, Petitioner filed an application for permission to file a second or successive habeas corpus petition, and the Third Circuit denied his request. In re: Ronald Burns, C.A. No. 17-3638 (3d Cir. Jan. 23, 2018).

         In February of 2018, Petitioner filed his latest § 2254 Petition (ECF No. 1 (hereinafter “Instant Petition”)) raising the same arguments as those within his application for permission to file a second or successive petition. This Court dismissed the Instant Petition for lack of jurisdiction as second or successive. (ECF Nos. 5, 6). Petitioner then filed the instant motion to amend judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), requesting that the Court allow him to amend the Instant Petition, in an attempt to cure its second or successive nature.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Local Civil Rule 7.1(i) governs motions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) and allows parties to seek reconsideration of what they believe are “overlooked” matters. See Carney v. Pennsauken Twp. Police Dep 't, No. 11-7366, 2013 WL 4501454, at *1 (D.N.J. Aug. 21, 2013) (citations omitted). “The standard for reargument is high” and courts should “only sparingly” grant reconsideration. Yarrell v. Bartkowski, No. 10-5337, 2012 WL 1600316, at *3 (D.N.J. May 7, 2012) (citing United States v. Jones, 158 F.R.D. 309, 314 (D.N.J. 1994)). To be successful on a motion for reconsideration, a party has the burden to demonstrate: “(1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court [issued its order]; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice.” Max's Seafood Café ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999); see also Berry v. Jacobs IMC, LLC, 99 Fed.Appx. 405, 410 (3d Cir. 2004).

         III. DISCUSSION

         After reviewing Petitioner's submission, the Court will deny his motion to amend judgment. In its earlier Opinion, this Court observed that a district court lacks jurisdiction over a second or successive § 2254 petition, absent authorization from the appropriate court of appeals. Burton v. Stewart,549 U.S. 147, 152 (2007). Because the Third Circuit denied Petitioner permission to file a ...


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