Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Williams v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama

May 1, 2018

MAURICE WILLIAMS,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

          ORDER

          KRISTI K. DuBOSE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This action is before the Court on Maurice Williams' pro se “Motion to Set Aside Forfeiture and/or for the District Court to Correct a Deficiency in the Judgment” (doc. 9). Williams seeks relief from the order and judgment entered October 9, 2012 (docs. 5, 6). Upon consideration, and for the reasons set forth herein, the motion is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

         I. Factual and procedural background.

         Previously, Williams alleged[1] that Drug Enforcement Agency agents seized approximately $5, 000.00 during a traffic stop near Mobile, Alabama on December 10, 2005. Williams was not arrested but was later incarcerated on unrelated matters. After the seizure, and on his behalf, his family contacted the DEA for return of the funds but without success. Williams wrote the DEA in February 2012 and in March 2012 to inquire about return of the funds, but the DEA did not respond. On July 30, 2012, Williams filed a “Motion for Return of Property” pursuant to Rule 41(g) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (doc. 1).

         In response, the United States argued that venue was improper in the Southern District of Alabama because the seizure occurred near Montgomery, Alabama, which is in the Middle District of Alabama. The United States also argued that Williams' Rule 41(g) motion should be treated as a civil action in equity against the United States and that his claim to the funds was barred by the applicable six-year statute of limitations found in 28 U.S.C. § 2401(a) (doc. 4).

         The district court denied Williams' Rule 41(g) motion with prejudice on basis that it was untimely (doc. 5).[2] The district court explained that the six-year statute of limitations set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2401(a) applied and that the time period began to run on either June 7, 2005 (the date of seizure according to the DEA's records), December 10, 2005 (according to Williams), or February 6, 2006 (the date of the DEA's Declaration of Forfeiture). The district court found that Williams' July 30, 2012 Rule 41(g) motion was filed beyond the period of limitations starting at the latest possible date, February 6, 2006, and therefore, the relief sought was barred by the statute of limitations. The action was dismissed with prejudice and final judgment was entered October 9, 2012 (docs. 5, 6).

         On April 2, 2018, Williams filed the pending “Motion to Set Aside Forfeiture and/or for the District Court to Correct a Deficiency in the Judgment” (doc. 9).

         II. Analysis

         Williams moves the Court to correct a deficiency in the district court's judgment, i.e., its decision to deny the Rule 41(g) motion, and then address on the merits his motion to set aside the forfeiture[3] (doc. 9). As grounds, he argues that the district court erred by failing to consider equitable tolling, when it ruled that his Rule 41(g) motion was barred by the six-year statute of limitations. Williams argues that his diligent pursuit of his rights and extraordinary circumstances equitably tolled the six-year statute of limitations.[4] Williams moves this Court to correct this deficiency and find that the time period to file his Rule 41(g) motion was equitably tolled, and then consider his motion to set aside the forfeiture. Williams also argues that his pending motion is timely because it was filed within six years of the date of the district court's order and final judgment, October 9, 2012.

         The Court construes Williams' motion to correct a deficiency in the judgment as a motion for relief from final judgment on grounds that the district court erred by failing to find the limitations period was equitably tolled. See United States v. Gonzalez, 462 Fed.Appx. 873 (11th Cir. 2012). (“We also review pro se filings, like Gonzalez's, under a more lenient standard and read them liberally in order to discern ‘whether jurisdiction to consider [them] can be founded on a legally justifiable base.'”) (quoting Fernandez v. United States, 941 F.2d 1488, 1491 (11th Cir.1991)). This action has been dismissed with prejudice and final judgment entered. Therefore, Williams must obtain relief from the final judgment. Otherwise, the Court lacks jurisdiction to consider his claim to the seized and forfeited funds and the motion must be dismissed for that reason

         Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, captioned “Relief from a Judgment or Order” sets out six specific grounds for relief.[5] However, the grounds set forth in subparagraphs (1) through (5) are either not applicable or time barred.[6] United States v. Real Prop. & Residence Located at Route 1, Box 111, Firetower Rd., Semmes, Mobile Cty., Ala., 920 F.2d 788, 791 (11th Cir. 1991) (relief under Rule 60(b)(6) applies only to “cases that do not fall into any of the other categories” in Rule 60(b)(1) through (5).”). Thus, only Rule 60(b)(6) may apply. That Rule provides for relief from judgment for “any other reason that justifies relief”. In order to set aside the judgment and order pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6), Williams “must demonstrate ‘that the circumstances are sufficiently extraordinary to warrant relief. Even then, whether to grant the requested relief is ... a matter for the district court's sound discretion.'” Grant v. Pottinger-Gibson, - - - Fed.Appx. - - -, 2018 WL 834895, at *3 (11th Cir. Feb. 13, 2018) (quoting Toole v. Baxter Healthcare Corp., 235 F.3d 1307, 1317 (11th Cir. 2000) (omission in original) (internal quotation marks omitted)).

         But, before considering the merits[7] of his Rule 60(b)(6) motion, the Court must determine whether the motion was timely. In that regard, Williams relies upon the six-year period of limitation set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2401(a) which sets the time limit for commencing an action against the United States. Since the Court has construed his motion to “correct a deficiency in the judgment” as a Rule 60(b)(6) motion for relief from judgment, his motion “must be made within a reasonable time” from the entry of the judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(c)(1).

         “What constitutes a ‘reasonable time' depends upon the circumstances of each case, including ‘whether the parties have been prejudiced by the delay and whether a good reason has been presented for failing to take action sooner.'” Gill v. Wells, 610 F.Appx. 809, 812 (11th Cir. 2015) (quoting BUC Int'l Corp. v. Int'l Yacht Council Ltd., 517 F.3d 1271, 1275 (11th Cir. 2008)). In that regard, Williams has not presented any good reason why he waited approximately five and one-half years to file this motion.

         Williams does state that he was not timely served with notice of the final judgment (doc. 9, p. 5). But he does not provide any evidence as to when he was served with notice. In that regard, the “clerk must serve notice of the entry” of an order or judgment on each party and “must record the service on the docket.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 77(d). The Court's docket indicates that “notice” of the order and judgment was delivered to Williams on October 9, 2012 at his then address in Milton, Florida (docs. 5, 6). Also, Rule 5(b)(C) provides for mailing the order and judgment “to the person's last known address - - in which event service is complete upon mailing.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 5(b)(C). ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.