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Bealer v. Rios

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 6, 2017

ANTWOINE BEALER, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER S. RIOS and SERGEANT R. BRANNUM, Defendants.

          AMENDED [1] ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME, FOR NEW TRIAL, FOR RECONSIDERATION, FOR POST-TRIAL INTERVIEW OF JURORS, TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS, AND STRIKING NON-PARTY FILING (DOC. NOS. 214, 218, 230, 234, 235.)

         Antwoine Bealer (“plaintiff) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The undersigned presided over a jury trial in this case, which proceeded on plaintiffs Fourth Amended Complaint in which he alleged that the defendants had subjected him to the excessive use of force in violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment. (Doc. No. 21.) On August 11, 2016, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of defendants, finding that defendants R. Brannum and S. Rios did not use excessive force against plaintiff on November 1, 2010. (Doc. No. 206.) At the time of the trial, defendants R. Brannum and S. Rios were the only remaining defendants in the case, and plaintiff's excessive use of force claim was the only remaining claim in the case. (Doc. No. 33.)

         Following entry of judgment in favor of defendants, plaintiff filed a flurry of post-trial motions. On September 6, 2016, plaintiff filed a motion for an extension of time to submit a post-trial motion for a new trial, and a notice of appeal. (Doc. Nos. 214-15.) Plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial on September 15, 2016, and amended his motion for a new trial on December 15, 2016. (Doc. Nos. 218, 235.)

         On October 31, 2016, plaintiff filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal and for a new trial, and a motion for reconsideration of the court's October 17, 2016 order denying his motion for preparation of a trial transcript at government expense.[2] (Doc. Nos. 230-31.)

         On December 5, 2016, plaintiff filed a motion seeking authorization for the post-trial interview of jurors. (Doc. No. 234.) On January 9, 2017, plaintiff filed a motion requesting that the undersigned appear as a witness and requesting videotape evidence in support of his motion for a new trial. (Doc. No. 234, 237.)

         ANALYSIS

         I. Motions for Extension of Time and For a New Trial

         As noted above, plaintiff has filed a motion for an extension of time to submit a post-trial motion for a new trial, a motion for a new trial, and an amended motion for a new trial. (Doc. Nos. 214, 218, 235.)

         Motions for a new trial are governed by Federal Civil Procedure Rule 59, which provides that any such motions “must be filed no later than 28 days after the entry of judgment.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 59. Motions to alter or amend a judgment brought under Rule 59(e) must also be “filed no later than 28 days after the entry of judgment.” Id. Rule 6 of the Federal Civil Procedure Rules prohibits extension of this twenty eight day period. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(b)(2) (“[a] court must not extend the time to act under Rule[] . . . 59(b), (d), and (e)”); Adv. Comm. Notes to 2009 Amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. 6 (“These time periods are particularly sensitive because Appellate Rule 4 integrates the time to appeal with a timely motion under these rules.”); see generally 4 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1168 (1969) (analyzing interpretation of Rule 59 deadlines by federal courts.).

         Here, judgment was entered in favor of defendants on August 12, 2016, and the twenty eight day period for filing a motion for a new trial lapsed on September 9, 2016. (Doc. No. 209.) Plaintiff did not file his motion for a new trial until several days after this deadline, on September 15, 2016. (Doc. Nos. 214, 218.) While plaintiff filed a motion on September 6, 2016 requesting an extension of time to submit his motion for a new trial, the court does not have discretion to extend the deadline for filing such a motion. See de la Fuente v. Central Elec. Co-op., Inc., 703 F.2d 63, 65 (3d Cir. 1983) (“The [Rule 59 deadline] is jurisdictional, and ‘cannot be extended in the discretion of the district court.'”) (citing Gribble v. Harris, 625 F.2d 1173, 1174 (5th Cir. 1980)); see also Napier v. United States, No. 1:10-cv-00040 OWW GSA, 2011 WL 2493756, at *1 (E.D. Cal. June 22, 2011) (denying plaintiff's motion for new trial as untimely because it was filed more than eight days after the entry of judgment, and stating that the motion would be untimely “even if construed as a motion to alter or amend judgment under Rule 59(e)).

         Accordingly, plaintiff's motion for a new trial will be denied as untimely, and plaintiff's motion for an extension of time to file the motion for a new trial will likewise be denied.[3]

         II. Motion for Reconsideration

         Plaintiff also moves for reconsideration of the court's October 17, 2016 order denying his motion for preparation of a trial transcript at government expense. (Doc. Nos. 231.)

         Courts review motions to reconsider a magistrate judge's ruling under the “clearly erroneous or contrary to law” standard. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Miller v. Akanno, No. 1:12-CV-01013-LJO-SKO (PC), 2015 WL 566304, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 16, 2015); see also Local Rule 303(f). “A finding is clearly erroneous when although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing [body] on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” Concrete Pipe & Prods. of Cal., Inc. v. Constr. Laborers Pension Trust for S. Cal., 508 U.S. 602, 622 (1993) (internal quotation marks omitted) (alteration in original) (quoting United States v. United States Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948)). “[R]eview under the ‘clearly erroneous' standard is significantly deferential.” Id. at 623.

         “The ‘contrary to law' standard allows independent, plenary review of purely legal determinations by the magistrate judge.” Estate of Stephen E. Crawley v. Robinson, No. 1:13- CV-02042-LJO-SAB, 2015 WL 3849107, at *2 (E.D. Cal. June 22, 2015). “An order is contrary to law when it fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law, or rules of ...


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