United States District Court, S.D. Alabama
K. DuBOSE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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.
Factual and procedural background.
Williams alleged 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).
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).
district court denied Williams' Rule 41(g) motion with
prejudice on basis that it was untimely (doc.
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).
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).
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 (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. 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.
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
60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, captioned
“Relief from a Judgment or Order” sets out six
specific grounds for relief. However, the grounds set forth in
subparagraphs (1) through (5) are either not applicable or
time barred. 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)).
before considering the merits 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).
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.
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). ...