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Barkley v. Ortiz

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 13, 2019

RASHAUN BARKLEY, Petitioner,
v.
ALFARO ORTIZ, et al., Respondents.

          OPINION

          KEVIN MCNULTY. U.S.D.J.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Petitioner, Rashaun Barkley, is a state prisoner who commenced this habeas proceeding pro se in 2001. Presently pending before this Court is a sixth motion by Mr. Barkley seeking relief from the order denying his habeas petition, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). (DE 91.) For the following reasons, the motion will be denied.

         II. BACKGROUND

         United States District Court Judge Faith S. Hochberg denied Mr. Barkley's petition for writ of habeas corpus on its merits in August 2004, and the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed that decision in 2006. Thereafter, Mr. Barkley filed several motions for relief from judgment under Rule 60(b). Judge Hochberg denied Rule 60(b) motions by Mr. Barkley in April 2011, June 2011, January 2012, and June 2012. In each denial, Judge Hochberg construed Mr. Barkley's motion as an attempt to file a second or successive habeas petition, which the Court may not consider absent authorization by the Court of Appeals. (See DE 57, 67, 78, 81.)

         In April 2016, following Judge Hochberg's retirement, Mr. Barkley filed another Rule 60(b) motion, which was assigned to me. In that motion, Mr. Barkley asserted that, following the denial of his habeas petition, he learned of a plea offer that his trial counsel had rejected without first presenting it to him. Furthermore, he alleged that his entire trial file had been lost or.

         destroyed by the Public Defender's Office or his defense counsel. (See DE 84.)

         On September 8, 2016, 1 denied that motion. (DE 85, 86.) In that opinion, 1 explained:

To the extent that [Mr. Barkley] asserts that counsel was ineffective for failing to relay a plea offer to him, he is challenging the underlying conviction. As described above, this is not an appropriate subject of a Rule 60(b) motion; it is in substance a second or successive habeas petition. Mr. Barkley does not assert that he has received authorization from the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit for such a second or successive petition. Accordingly, this Court is without jurisdiction to address the claim.

(DE 85 at 4 (citation omitted).) I noted, however, that Mr. Barkley "also appears to be challenging this Court's initial denial of his habeas petition by asserting that this Court did not have access to his trial file." (Id.) I concluded that, though this could be considered an argument aimed at vacating his habeas denial, Mr. Barkley had failed to demonstrate the "extraordinary circumstances" needed to justify relief under Rule 60(b)(6). (Id. at 4-5.)

         I subsequently denied a motion by Mr. Barkley for reconsideration of the order denying his Rule 60(b) motion, finding that his "contentions are not properly considered on a motion for reconsideration, because they contain nothing that was not, or could not have been, raised on the earlier motion." (DE 89 at 3.) As Judge Hochberg had done previously, I explained as follows:

Mr. Barkley's Rule 60(b)motion constituted a challenge to his underlying conviction. Although styled a Rule 60(b) motion, it was in fact a second or successive § 2254 petition. Such a second or successive petition cannot be filed without authorization from the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Accordingly, the Rule 60(b) motion was properly rejected.

(Id. at 4.) I additionally reiterated that "Mr. Barkley is free to seek leave from the Third Circuit to file a second or successive habeas petition." (Id. at 4 n.1.)

         III. THE ...


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