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United States v. Taulua

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

May 9, 2016

SIMETA E. TAULUA, JR. (01), Defendant.


Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge

On August 24, 2015, pro se Defendant/Petitioner Simeta E. Taulua, Jr. (“Taulua”) filed his Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody (“§ 2255 Motion”), and, on January 26, 2016, this Court issued an order denying the § 2255 Motion and denying a certificate of appealability (“1/26/16 Order”). [Dkt. nos. 229, 240.] Before the Court is Taulua’s “Motion for Reconsideration R. Civ. Pro. 59(e), ” (“Motion for Reconsideration”) filed on March 7, 2016. [Dkt. no. 244.] Plaintiff/Respondent the United States of America (“the Government”) filed its memorandum in opposition on March 22, 2016, and Taulua filed his reply on May 2, 2016. [Dkt. nos. 249, 254.] The Court has considered the Motion for Reconsideration as a non-hearing matter pursuant to Rule LR7.2(e) of the Local Rules of Practice of the United States District Court for the District of Hawai`i (“Local Rules”). After careful consideration of the motion, supporting and opposing memoranda, and the relevant legal authority, Taulua’s Motion for Reconsideration is HEREBY DENIED for the reasons set forth below. In addition, this Court DENIES a certificate of appealability.


Taulua pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute, fifty grams or more of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A) and § 846. This Court sentenced Taulua to, inter alia, 235 months of imprisonment and five years of supervised release. [Judgment in a Criminal Case, filed 5/21/12 (dkt. no. 275), at 1-3.] Subsequently, in light of Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines Manual, Taulua and the Government agreed to a reduction in Taulua’s term of imprisonment to 191 months. [Order Regarding Motion for Sentence Reduction Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) (“Sentence Reduction Order”), filed 4/14/15 (dkt. no. 227).]

Taulua’s § 2255 Motion challenged his sentence. He argued that: his counsel at sentencing was ineffective because counsel failed to review the convictions used to determine his criminal history category (“Ground One”); this Court erred in determining his criminal history category (“Ground Two”); and this Court erred in applying the four-level enhancement for a leadership role in the offense (“Ground Three”). In the 1/26/16 Order, this Court denied Taulua’s § 2255 Motion because Taulua failed to file his § 2255 Motion within one year of his conviction becoming final, and this Court concluded that there was no ground to find that either § 2255(f)(4) or equitable tolling of the limitations period applied. This Court did not address any of the three grounds on the merits, and it denied a certificate of appealability. A final judgment pursuant to the 1/26/16 Order was filed on January 26, 2016 (“§ 2255 Judgment”). [CV 15-00343, dkt. no. 4.]

In the instant Motion for Reconsideration, Taulua asks this Court to “alter and amend the judgment imposed by this court on January 26, 2016” pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59, and he argues that “his judgment is void” pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(4). [Motion for Reconsideration at 1, 4.]

On the same day that he filed his Motion for Reconsideration, Taulua also filed a Notice of Appeal. [Dkt. no. 245.] However, the Notice of Appeal discusses the events related to the Amendment 782 process and the Sentence Reduction Order; it does not address the § 2255 Motion, the 1/26/16 Order, or the § 2255 Judgment.


“Motions for reconsideration after a final order are available in § 2255 cases and may be brought under either Rule 59(e) or Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” United States v. Ramiro, CR. No. 08-00294 SOM-2, 2009 WL 5103312, at *1 (D. Hawai`i Dec. 23, 2009) (citing United States v. Martin, 226 F.3d 1042, 1047 (9th Cir. 2000); Vo v. United States, 2007 WL 2893654 at *1 (D. Haw. Sept. 27, 2007)). Rule 59(e) states: “A motion to alter or amend a judgment must be filed no later than 28 days after the entry of the judgment.” This district court has stated:

“The Rule 59(e) motion may not be used to relitigate old matters, or to raise arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment.” 11 Charles Alan Wright, Arthur Miller, and Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice & Procedure § 2810.1 (3d ed. West 2015).
A district court may properly reconsider its decision if it “(1) is presented with newly discovered evidence, (2) committed clear error or the initial decision was manifestly unjust, or (3) if there is an intervening change in controlling law.” School Dist. No. 1J v. ACandS, Inc., 5 F.3d 1255, 1263 (9th Cir. 1993). Clear error occurs when “the reviewing court on the entire record is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948).
Smith v. Clark Cty. Sch. Dist., 727 F.3d 950, 955 (9th Cir. 2013). “[R]econsideration of a judgment after its entry is an extraordinary remedy which should be used sparingly.” McDowell v. Calderon, 197 F.3d 1253, 1255 n.1 (9th Cir. 1999) (en banc). A decision whether to grant or deny a Rule 59(e) motion is committed to the sound discretion of this court. Id. n.1 (“the district court enjoys considerable discretion in granting or denying the motion”); see also Herbst v. Cook, 260 F.3d 1039, 1044 (9th Cir. 2001) (“denial of a motion for reconsideration is reviewed only for an abuse of discretion”).

Gowadia v. United States, CRIM. NO. CR 05-00486 SOM, 2015 WL 9473401, at *1 (D. Hawai`i Dec. 28, ...

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