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United States v. Watkins

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

January 9, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
ANTWAIN WATKINS, Petitioner.

MEMORANDUM OPINION (Denying Rule 59(e) Motion)

HENRY E. HUDSON, District Judge.

Antwain Watkins, a federal inmate proceeding pro se, filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 ("§ 2255 Motion") to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence. In his § 2255 Motion, Watkins demanded relief upon the following grounds:[1]

Claim 1 Watkins failed to receive the effective assistance of counsel.
(a) Counsel failed to move to have the drugs retested until shortly before the original trial date. (Mem. Supp. § 2255 Mot. 1-2.)
(b) Counsel failed to take notes or have transcribed the pretrial testimony of the Government "lab tech." ( Id. at 3.)
(c) Counsel failed to have crack cocaine adequately defined to the jury. ( Id. at 3-4.)
Claim 2 Counsel "failed to require the Government to make a finding as to whether the quantity of crack was below or above the five-gram threshold." ( Id at 7.)
Claim 3 "Judicial abuse of discretion, [(a)] [The] Court failed to ask for lesser included or special verdict form, [(b)] Waived my right to be present [and] didn't allow full retest." (§ 2255 Mot. 5.)
Claim 4 The "Government never proved its burden. Never proved drug amount or type." ( Id. at 6.) By Memorandum Opinion and Order entered on October 1, 2013, the Court denied Watkins 28 U.S.C. § 2255 Motion. On October 25, 2013, Watkins filed a Motion for Reconsideration of that decision under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) ("Rule 59(e), " ECF No. 54).[2]

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has recognized three grounds for relief under Rule 59(e): "(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 prevent manifest injustice." Hutchinson v. Staton, 994 F.2d 1076, 1081 (4th Cir. 1993) (citing Weyerhaeuser Corp. v. Koppers Co., 771 F.Supp. 1406, 1419 (D. Md. 1991); Atkins v. Marathon LeTourneau Co., 130 F.R.D. 625, 626 (S.D.Miss. 1990)). Here, Watkins contends that the Court misapprehended his claims. Watkins is incorrect. The Court addressed his claims as pled. Moreover, Rule 59(e) fails to provide a vehicle for raising new arguments, such as Watkins's assertion that counsel was ineffective for waiving Watkins's presence at a pretrial hearing. See Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat'l Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir. 1998) (noting that a "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 ...


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