United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER TRANSFERRING 60(b)
R. MEANS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Julius Omar Robinson's Motion for Relief
from Judgment Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
60(b)(6), filed on February 28, 2018. (“Motion, ”
CV doc. 10). Robinson moves to reopen the Court's
judgment in a proceeding under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The
Motion challenges the validity of Robinson's conviction
by attacking various procedural rulings with new case law.
Because the Motion is in actuality a second or successive
petition for habeas relief, the Court
TRANSFERS the Motion to the United States
Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Court sentenced Robinson to death in 2002 after a jury
convicted him of murdering Johnny Lee Shelton and Juan Reyes.
Robinson was also sentenced to life imprisonment for
complicity in a criminal enterprise resulting in the death of
Rudolfo Resendez. The Court assessed a second sentence of
life imprisonment and a consecutive 300-month sentence on two
other counts. (CR doc. 1740.) In 2004, the Fifth Circuit
affirmed Robinson's convictions and sentences. United
States v. Robinson, 367 F.3d 278 (5th Cir. 2004),
cert. denied, 543 U.S. 1005 (2004).
2005, Robinson moved to vacate the judgment pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255. (CR doc. 2279.) Following three years of
litigation, the Court denied the motion. Robinson v.
United States, No. 4:05-CV-756-Y, No. 4:00-CR-260-Y(2),
2008 WL 4906272 (N.D. Tex. Nov. 7, 2008) (CR doc. 2453.)
Robinson moved for reconsideration, which this Court denied.
(CR doc. 2456, 2465.) The Court by separate order denied a
certificate of appealability (“COA”). (CR doc.
2473.) In 2010, the Fifth Circuit denied Robinson's
request for a COA and denied rehearing. (CR doc. 2477, 2482).
The Supreme Court denied Robinson's petition for
certiorari. (CV doc. 7.)
moves to reopen the § 2255 proceedings based on Supreme
Court cases that have been decided since this Court denied
relief. Respondent contends the Motion fails to meet the
standards for relief under Rule 60(b) and, to the extent it
raises new claims, it should be transferred to the Court of
Appeals as a second or successive petition.
Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) allows a district court to
grant relief from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for
any reason that justifies relief. See Fed. R. Civ.
P. 60(b)(6). The purpose of Rule 60(b) is to “balance
the principle of finality of a judgment with the interest of
the court in seeing that justice is done in light of all the
facts.” Hernandez v. Thaler, 630 F.3d 420,
429-30 (5th Cir. 2011). To succeed under Rule 60(b)(6), the
movant must show that extraordinary circumstances exist that
justify the reopening of a final judgment. See Gonzalez
v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 535 (2005).
courts have jurisdiction to consider Rule 60(b) motions in 28
U.S.C. § 2254 habeas proceedings so long as the motion
attacks not the substance of the court's resolution of
the claim on the merits, but some defect in the integrity of
the habeas proceedings. See Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at
532. Because 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and § 2255 are nearly
identical in substance, this Circuit applies
Gonzalez to Rule 60(b) motions to reopen § 2255
proceedings. See Williams v. Thaler, 602 F.3d 291,
302 n.5 (5th Cir. 2010); Davis v. United States, 417
U.S. 333, 343 (1974) (section 2255 is “intended to
afford federal prisoners a remedy identical in scope to
federal habeas corpus”). Examples of Rule 60(b) motions
that properly raise a defect in the integrity of the habeas
proceedings include a claim of fraud on the court or
challenges to a procedural ruling that precluded a merits
determination, such as failure to exhaust, procedural
default, or time bar. Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 532 nn.
limits the defendant to one § 2255 motion unless he
obtains certification for a successive motion from the Court
of Appeals. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 2244,
2255(e), (h); Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 528 (addressing
§ 2254). Because of the comparative lenience of Rule
60(b), petitioners “sometimes attempt to file what are
in fact second-or-successive habeas petitions under the guise
of Rule 60(b) motions.” In re Edwards, 865
F.3d 197, 203 (5th Cir.), cert. denied sub nom. Edwards
v. Davis, 137 S.Ct. 909 (2017) (citing
Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 531-32). A Rule 60(b) motion
that (1) presents a new habeas claim, (2) attacks the federal
court's previous resolution of a claim on the merits, or
(3) presents new evidence or new law in support of a claim
already litigated, should be treated as a second or
successive habeas petition. See Gonzalez, 545 U.S.
at 531-32. The rationale is that such motions could
circumvent the strict successive-petition requirements in
§ 2255(h). See Id. (addressing similarly worded
provision in § 2244(b)(2)(A)).
first contends that an erroneously high standard was used in
denying a COA on his ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim.
He cites Buck v. Davis, 137 S.Ct. 759 (2017) as
“the Supreme Court's most recent case on the COA
standard” and argues that this Court and the Court of
Appeals erred under Buck by making a COA
determination on the merits rather than simply asking whether
the district court ruling was debatable. Motion, p. 5-9.
Robinson argues that the COA is a valid subject for Rule
60(b) relief because it is by definition a “non-merits
based decision.” See Miller-El v. Cockrell,
537 U.S. 322, 336 (2003); see Reply, p. 1.
extent Robinson seeks to reopen this Court's order
denying a COA, it is not a proper Rule 60(b) motion.
Gonzalez allows the reopening of procedural
decisions that precluded a merits determination.
Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 532, n. 4. The denial of COA
did not preclude a merits determination; it followed this
Court's merits-based ruling on the
ineffective-trial-counsel claim. Robinson simply seeks
vindication of the claim through a second round of appellate
review. It is, “if not in substance a ‘habeas
corpus application, ' at least similar enough that
failing to subject it to the same requirements ...