United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division
JOHN C. GATTON, Plaintiff,
BEN FAULKENBERRY, et al., Defendants.
D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court upon Plaintiff's pro
se Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. No. 5) of the Court's
Order dismissing his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Complaint (Doc.
is a prisoner of the State of North Carolina who, while
serving an 80-105 month sentence at a North Carolina
Department of Public Safety (“NCDPS”)
correctional institution learned the State had filed a
detainer seeking his transfer to Iredell County upon
completion of his sentence, to face outstanding criminal
charges there. On October 13, 2016, while still in NCDPS
custody, Plaintiff filed a motion for speedy trial on those
outstanding charges in the Iredell County Superior Court. The
State did not respond to the motion.
completion of Plaintiff's sentence, he was transferred to
the Iredell County Jail to face the criminal charges there.
On June 21, 2017, he filed a motion in Iredell County
Superior Court seeking dismissal of all outstanding charges
based upon a violation of state statutory and constitutional
law, as well has federal constitutional law. Plaintiff filed
his § 1983 Complaint in this Court on August 21, 2017,
alleging that Defendants, two Iredell County prosecutors, had
not responded to either his speedy trial motion or his motion
to dismiss. He also alleged that he still had not been tried
on the Iredell County charges.
claimed Defendants' failure to either grant him a speedy
trial or dismiss the charges against him violates North
Carolina statutory and constitutional law. He also claimed
Defendants violated his equal protection and due process
rights under the federal constitution. He sought injunctive
relief to compel dismissal of the Iredell County charges.
Court dismissed the Complaint without prejudice on initial
review for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted. (Doc. No. 3.) First, the Court concluded that
abstention was appropriate because Plaintiff sought to use
the federal court to compel Defendants to dismiss pending
state criminal charges. (Order Dismiss. Compl. 3-4, Doc. No.
3 (citing Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 44 (1971);
Middlesex Cty. Ethics Commission v. Garden State Bar
Assoc., 457 U.S. 423, 431 (1982) (reiterating that
federal courts should abstain from interfering with ongoing
state proceedings)).) The Court also concluded that because
Plaintiff was challenging the very fact of his imprisonment
in Iredell County, the relief he sought was not available by
means of a § 1983 action. Instead, he could only obtain
the remedy he desired - dismissal of the charges and
immediate release - by means of a petition for writ of habeas
corpus. (Order Dismiss. Compl. 4 (citing Preiser v.
Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973) (“[W]hen a
state prisoner is challenging the very fact or duration of
his physical imprisonment, and the relief he seeks is a
determination that he is entitled to immediate release or a
speedier release from that imprisonment, his sole federal
remedy is a writ of habeas corpus.”)).) Plaintiff seeks
reconsideration of the Court's Order.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
district court “has the discretion to grant a Rule
59(e) motion only in very narrow circumstances: ‘(1) to
accommodate an intervening change in controlling law; (2) to
account for new evidence not available at trial; or (3) to
correct a clear error of law or to prevent manifest
injustice.'” Hill v. Braxton, 277 F.3d 701,
708 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting Collison v. Int'l Chem.
Workers Union, 34 F.3d 233, 236 (4th Cir. 1994)).
“Rule 59(e) motions may not be used to make arguments
that could have been made before the judgment was
entered.” Hill, 277 F.3d at 708. The Fourth
Circuit has cautioned that “reconsideration of a
judgment after its entry is an extraordinary remedy which
should be used sparingly, '” Pac. Ins. Co. v.
Am. Nat'l Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir.
1998) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Motion, Plaintiff does not identify an intervening change in
controlling law, new evidence not available at trial, or a
clear error of law made by this Court. See id. As
for whether a manifest injustice will occur if the Court does
not alter or amend the judgment to grant him relief,
Plaintiff relies on the same grounds argued in his Complaint
- that the Iredell County charges must be dismissed because
the State has failed to comply with a state statute providing
for securing attendance of criminal defendants. (Br. Support.
Rule 59(e) Mot. 1-2, Doc. No. 5-2 (citing N.C. Gen. Stat.
§ 15A-711).) As the Court explained in its Order
dismissing the Complaint, however, the relief Plaintiff seeks
cannot be obtained through 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Order
Dismiss. Compl. 4.) If Plaintiff believes he is in custody in
violation of federal constitutional law, he may seek release
from custody through a petition for writ of habeas corpus.
(Id (citing Griffin v. Baltimore Police
Dept, 804 F.3d 692, 695 (4th Cir. 2015) (reiterating
that habeas corpus, not § 1983, is the exclusive federal
remedy for state prisoners seeking release from
confinement)).) The Court notes that Plaintiff may also
petition the state courts for habeas corpus relief.
has failed to show the existence of any of the circumstances
under which a Rule 59(e) motion may be granted. See
Hill, 277 F.3d at 708. Accordingly, his Motion shall be
IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that Petitioner's Motion