Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

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.

Ochoa v. Davis

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

June 20, 2017

LORIE DAVIS, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent.

         Death Penalty Case



         Petitioner Abel Revill Ochoa has filed a “Motion to Amend Judgment Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 59(e) and Memorandum of Law in Support” (Rule 59 Motion, doc. 61). Respondent has filed a response in opposition to the motion (Response, doc. 62). The motion is denied because the Court properly addressed the arguments Ochoa presented in his pleadings and his new arguments do not warrant relief from the judgment.


         Ochoa asserts that this Court erred in denying his unexhausted claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel without affording a hearing on cause and prejudice under Martinez v. Ryan, 132 S.Ct. 1309 (2012), and Trevino v. Thaler, 133 S.Ct. 1911 (2013). He asserts that “the requisite preliminary showing of substantiality can rarely ever be made without an initial evidentiary hearing.” (Mot. at 3.) In support, Ochoa makes three arguments. First, Ochoa complains that this Court applied an overly stringent standard while depriving him of an evidentiary hearing. (Mot. at 3-6.) Second, Ochoa argues that courts within this district have granted evidentiary hearings to demonstrate the underlying substantiality of the claim under Martinez and Trevino along with its subsequent entitlement to consideration on the merits. (Mot. at 6-9.) Finally, Ochoa argues that the Court erred in determining the substantiality of his claim that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to investigate and present mitigating evidence at the punishment phase of trial by considering the amount of mitigation evidence that trial counsel presented. (Mot. at 9-35.)

         Respondent presents three arguments in opposition to the motion. First, Respondent asserts that, to the extent that Ochoa re-urges the merits of his claim, his motion is an impermissible successive habeas petition that this Court lacks jurisdiction to consider. (Resp. at 6-8.) Second, Respondent argues that Ochoa fails to present a sufficient ground to authorize relief under Rule 59, specifically that any manifest injustice resulted from the lack of an evidentiary hearing. (Resp. at 8-13.) Finally, Respondent argues that an evidentiary hearing is barred under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2). (Resp. at 13-14.)


         Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a court “to rectify its own mistakes in the period immediately following entry of judgment.” White v. New Hampshire Dept. of Employment Sec., 455 U.S. 445, 450 (1982). Although district courts have discretion as to whether or not to reopen a case under Rule 59(e), “[r]econsideration of a judgment after its entry is an extraordinary remedy that should be used sparingly.” Templet v. HydroChem Inc., 367 F.3d 473, 479 (5th Cir. 2004) (citing Clancy v. Employers Health Ins. Co., 101 F.Supp.2d 463, 465 (E.D. La. 2000)).

“A motion to alter or amend the judgment under Rule 59(e) ‘must clearly establish either a manifest error of law or fact or must present newly discovered evidence' and ‘cannot be used to raise arguments which could, and should, have been made before the judgment issued.' ” Rosenzweig [v. Azurix Corp., 332 F.3d 854, 863-64 (quoting Simon v. United States, 891 F.2d 1154, 1159 (5th Cir.1990)]. Relief under Rule 59(e) is also appropriate when there has been an intervening change in the controlling law. See In re Benjamin Moore & Co., 318 F.3d 626, 629 (5th Cir.2002).

Schiller v. Physicians Resource Group Inc., 342 F.3d 563, 567-68 (5th Cir. 2003) (footnote omitted).

         In determining whether to grant Rule 59 relief, the Fifth Circuit has set forth a balancing test between “two important judicial imperatives relating to such a motion: 1) the need to bring litigation to an end; and 2) the need to render just decisions on the basis of all the facts. The task for the district court is to strike the proper balance between these competing interests.” Templet, 367 F.3d at 479 (citations omitted).

         The district court, however, has no jurisdiction to consider a successive habeas petition, even if it is couched as a motion filed under Rule 59, unless the petitioner first obtains the required authorization from the court of appeals. A motion to reopen under Rule 59 is considered a successive habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b) when it raises a claim that was or could have been raised in the petition. See Hardemon v. Quarterman, 516 F.3d 272, 275 (5th Cir. 2008).

         In determining whether a motion to reopen under Rule 59(e) is actually an impermissible successive habeas petition, this Circuit applies the same framework of Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524 (2005), that is used to determine whether a motion to reopen under Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is a second or successive habeas petition, and thus subject to AEDPA's additional jurisdictional requirements. See Williams v. Thaler, 602 F.3d 291, 304 (5th Cir. 2010).

In most cases, determining whether a Rule 60(b) motion advances one or more “claims” will be relatively simple. A motion that seeks to add a new ground for relief ... will of course qualify. A motion can also be said to bring a “claim” if it attacks the federal court's previous resolution of a claim on the merits, since alleging that the court erred in denying habeas relief on the merits is effectively indistinguishable from alleging that the movant is, under the substantive provisions of the statutes, entitled to habeas relief. That is not the case, however, when a Rule 60(b) motion ...

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.