from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Texas
SMITH, OWEN, and GRAVES, Circuit Judges.
Crutsinger was convicted and sentenced to death.
Crutsinger v. Davis, No. 18-70027, 2019 WL 2864445,
at *1 (5th Cir. July 3, 2019). He is scheduled to be executed
on September 4, 2019. After our decision to vacate the order
transferring his Rule 60(b)(6) motion to this court,
id. at *5, Crut-singer moved for a stay of
execution. Finding that Crutsinger fails to demonstrate that
the circumstances justify the exercise of our equitable
discretion, we deny the motion.
stay of execution is an equitable remedy. It is not available
as a matter of right, and equity must be sensitive to the
[s]tate's strong interest in enforcing its criminal
judgments without undue interference from the federal
courts." Hill v. McDonough, 547 U.S. 573, 584
(2006); see also Sepulvado v. Jindal, 729 F.3d 413,
420 (5th Cir. 2013).
motion to [a court's] discretion is a motion, not to its
inclination, but to its judgment; and its judgment is to be
guided by sound legal principles." United States v.
Burr, 25 F. Cas. 30, 35 (C.C.D. Va. 1807) (No. 14, 692D)
(Marshall, C.J.). Consequently, we weigh four factors when
deciding whether to grant a stay of execution. Murphy v.
Collier, 919 F.3d 913, 915 (5th Cir. 2019) (per curiam);
Charles v. Stephens, 612 Fed.Appx. 214, 218 n.7 (5th
Cir. 2015) (per curiam); see also Nken v. Holder,
556 U.S. 418, 425-26 (2009). First, "whether the stay
applicant has made a strong showing that he is likely to
succeed on the merits." Charles, 612 Fed.Appx.
at 218 n.7 (citation omitted). Second, "whether the
applicant will be irreparably injured absent a stay."
Id. (citation omitted). Third, "whether
issuance of the stay will substantially injure the other
parties interested in the proceeding." Id.
(citation omitted). And fourth, "where the public
interest lies." Id. (citation omitted).
first two factors of the traditional standard are the most
critical. It is not enough that the chance of success on the
merits be better than negligible." Nken, 556
U.S. at 434 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
"Once an applicant satisfies the first two factors, the
traditional stay inquiry calls for assessing the harm to the
opposing party and weighing the public interest."
Id. at 435. Moreover, "[t]hese factors merge
when the Government is the opposing party,"
id., and "courts must be mindful that the
Government's role as the respondent in every . . .
proceeding does not make the public interest in each
individual one negligible," id.
asserts that he has "made a strong showing that he is
likely to succeed" on the merits of his claim such that
"this case should proceed in federal court without the
pressures of a state execution setting." He highlights
our determination that his Rule 60(b)(6) motion was not a
second-or-successive habeas petition, while emphasizing that
the dissent "conclude[d] that . . . Crutsinger's
motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) should
be granted" (quoting Crutsinger, 2019 WL
2864445, at *5 (Graves, J., dissenting)). Therefore, he
maintains that he has satisfied the first factor.
response, the state contends that "Crutsinger cannot
demonstrate a strong likelihood of success on the
merits." The state cites precedent establishing that
"a movant seeking relief under Rule 60(b)(6) [must] show
'extraordinary circumstances' justifying the
reopening of a final judgment." Gonzalez v.
Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 535 (2005) (citation omitted).
"Such circumstances will rarely occur in the habeas
context." Id. Moreover, the state avers that
"the Supreme Court has made abundantly clear that mere
changes in decisional law are hardly extraordinary."
state also maintains that the various cases relied upon by
Crut-singer to justify relief under Rule
60(b)(6)-i.e., Ayestas v. Davis, 138 S.Ct.
1080 (2018), Trevino v. Thaler, 569 U.S. 413 (2013),
and Martinez v. Ryan, 566 U.S. 1 (2012)-are merely
changes in decisional law insufficient to warrant such
relief. In fact, the state emphasizes that our precedent
forecloses any reliance on Martinez or
Trevino. Moreover, the state asserts that if, as in
Gonzalez, "a change in law that
entirely precluded merits review is not sufficient
to warrant Rule 60(b)(6) relief," then, as in
Ayestas, "a change in the law on a lesser
matter-funding to possibly support a claim for relief-
necessarily cannot warrant Rule 60(b)(6) relief."
Consequently, the state concludes that "Crutsinger . . .
wholly fails to establish extraordinary circumstances or that
he is likely to succeed on the merits of his claims."
state's conclusion accords with our decision in
Crutsinger. Though acknowledging that we were
without jurisdiction to make a merits determination on his
Rule 60(b)(6) motion, we underscored that Crutsinger was
unlikely to establish that "extraordinary
circumstances" exist to justify the reopening of the
final judgment because "not every interpretation of the
federal statutes setting forth the requirements for habeas
provides cause for reopening cases long since final."
Crutsinger, 2019 WL 2864445, at *4 (quoting
Gonzalez, 545 U.S. at 536). Crutsinger's motion,
with its focus on mere changes in deci-sional law, provides