United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO ALTER OR AMEND
Douglas Daniel Clark, an inmate on death row at San Quentin
State Prison (“SQSP”), filed a civil rights
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, in which he alleged
only one claim-a First Amendment challenge to a prison
regulation limiting his 602 inmate appeals. Dkt. 21-1.
Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, in which he
argued that the regulation limiting non-emergency appeals
does not violate Plaintiff’s First Amendment rights.
Dkt. 65. On July 20, 2015, the Court granted
Defendant’s motion and entered judgment in favor of
Defendant. Dkts. 78, 79. The Court agreed with Defendant and
found that Plaintiff does not have a First Amendment right to
file unlimited non-emergency appeals. Dkt. 78 at 7. The Court
also held that, even if Plaintiff had a right to file
unlimited non-emergency appeals, the regulation limiting the
number of such appeals is valid because it relates to a
legitimate penological interest. Id. at 12.
being granted an extension of time to do so, Plaintiff filed
a motion to alter or amend the judgment under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 59(e). Dkt. 86.
reasons discussed below, Plaintiff’s Rule 59(e) motion
motion for reconsideration under Rule 59(e)
“‘should not be granted, absent highly unusual
circumstances, unless the district court is presented with
newly discovered evidence, committed clear error, or if there
is an intervening change in the law.’”
McDowell v. Calderon, 197 F.3d 1253, 1255 (9th Cir.
1999) (citation omitted) (en banc). A district court does not
commit clear error warranting reconsideration when the
question before it is a debatable one. See Id. at
1256 (district court did not abuse its discretion in denying
reconsideration where question whether it could enter
protective order in habeas action limiting Attorney
General’s use of documents from trial counsel’s
file was debatable). Finally, a motion under Rule 59(e) is
not a vehicle permitting the unsuccessful party to
“rehash” arguments previously presented or to
present “contentions which might have been raised prior
to the challenged judgment.” Costello v. United
States, 765 F.Supp. 1003, 1009 (C.D. Cal. 1991). These
holdings “reflect district courts’ concerns for
preserving dwindling resources and promoting judicial
the Court has reviewed Plaintiff’s Rule 59(e) motion
and other evidence in support thereof. First, in his motion,
Plaintiff makes a conclusory argument that the Court erred in
granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant by basing
such a ruling “entirely upon the unreliable and
provably perjur[i]ous and deceitful declarations made to the
[C]ourt.” Dkt. 86 at 1.Specifically, as Plaintiff did in
his opposition, he again argues that the Court should not
have considered the declaration of SQSP Appeals Coordinator
M.L. Davis filed in support of Defendant’s motion for
summary judgment. Compare Dkt. 86 at 1, 12-16
with Dkt. 69 at 18-19. In granting summary judgment
in favor of Defendant, the Court previously addressed this
argument as follows:
SQSP Appeals Coordinator M.L. Davis submitted two separate
declarations in support of Defendant’s motion for
summary judgment and reply, respectively. Dkts. 65-1, 72.
According to Davis, Plaintiff has submitted 556 appeals since
1996. Davis Decl., Dkt. 65-1 at 4; Davis Decl. 2, Dkt. 72 at
1. Plaintiff disputes this number and alleges that
“well over 100 of the listings are not filed
appeals.” Dkt. 69 at 19. Davis responds that the
disputed appeals “were screened out before being
accepted at the first level, ” but “were still
submitted to the appeals office.” Davis Decl. 2, Dkt.
72 at 2. Despite any disagreement over the exact number of
appeals Plaintiff filed, both parties agree that the prison
regulation at issue limits the number of appeals he may file.
Dkts. 21-1 at 3-4, 65 at 8. Furthermore, both parties agree
that SQSP officials have rejected appeals from Plaintiff
based on the regulation’s non-emergency appeal
limitation. Dkt. 21-1 at 23; Davis Decl., Dkt. 65-1 at 4;
Dkt. 69 at 9. Thus, while the Court notes Plaintiffs
objections to Davis’s declarations, it recognizes that
determining the actual number of Plaintiffs appeals is
unnecessary to resolve the instant summary judgment motion.
The pertinent issue at hand is whether the challenged
regulation’s limitation on appeals violates Plaintiffs
First Amendment rights.
Dkt. 78 at 4-5. Thus, Plaintiff is merely rehashing an
argument he presented previously, which is not proper in a
Rule 59(e) motion. See Costello, 765 F.Supp. at
the Court finds that Plaintiff continues to rehash his
previous arguments, including: that he has a First Amendment
right to file unlimited non-emergency appeals, and that the
regulation did not further a legitimate penological interest.
Compare Dkt. 86 at 8-27 to Dkts. 69, 73. As stated
above, a motion to alter or amend the judgment is not the
proper vehicle for relitigating previous arguments-raised in
Plaintiffs opposition to summary judgment and in his
sur-reply-which have already been ruled on. See
Costello, 765 F.Supp. at 1009. Furthermore, Plaintiff
neither alleges the discovery of new evidence nor an
intervening change in the controlling law. See
McDowell, 197 F.3d at 1255. Therefore, Plaintiffs
arguments in his Rule 59(e) motion do not warrant
reconsideration of the Court’s July 20, 2015 Order
granting Defendant’s motion for summary judgment.
Accordingly, Plaintiff s Rule 59(e) motion is DENIED. Dkt.
reasons outlined above, the Court orders as follows:
Plaintiffs Rule 59(e) motion is DENIED. Dkt. 86.
Plaintiffs motion to consolidate the instant action with his
other closed cases is inappropriate and not ...