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United States v. Carter

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

March 9, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
LEWIS F. CARTER, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          M. HANNAH LAUCK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on three motions filed by Defendant Lewis F. Carter: (1) Carter's "Motion to Alter or Amend the Order of the Court" pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e)[1] (the "Motion to Alter or Amend"), (ECF No. 99); (2) Carter's "Motion by New Evidence to Void Judgment for Lack of Subject-Matter Jurisdiction of the District Court to Enforce Plaintiffs Assessments of a Direct and Unapportioned Tax on Income under Article I, Section 8 Authorities as Erroneously Done by the Court; and for Fraud Upon the Court" pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 60(b)(3), (4), and (6)[2] and 60(d)(3)[3] (the "First Motion to Void"), (ECF No. 104); and, (3) Carter's "Motion to Void Judgment for Lack of Subject-Matter Jurisdiction of the District Court to Enforce a Judgment Allegedly Rendered under Article I, Section 8 Authority; for a Non-Geographically Uniform Tax on Income Enforced in Violation of Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution" (the "Second Motion to Void"), (ECF No. 106).[4] The Motion to Alter or Amend and the Motions to Void seek to invalidate the Court's December 31, 2015 Final Order granting summary judgment to the United States of America.[5](ECF No. 56).

         The Court dispenses with oral argument because the materials before it adequately present the facts and legal contentions, and argument would not aid the decisional process. Because Carter fails to establish a basis for relief under any of the procedural rules he invokes, and because he has filed the motions beyond any applicable statute of limitations, the Court will deny all of Carter's motions.

         I. Procedural History

         Carter has sought dismissal of this action numerous times. On December 31, 2015, the Court granted the United States' Motion for Summary Judgment (the "Summary Judgment Opinion") (Dec. 31, 2015 Mem. Op., ECF No. 55; Final O., ECF No. 56.) On January 20, 2016, Carter submitted two Motions to Alter or Amend the Judgment, (ECF Nos. 77, 78), and a Motion to Void the Order of the Court, (ECF No. 80) (the "First Set of Reconsideration Motions"). On April 29, 2016, the Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and Final Order denying Carter's First Set of Reconsideration Motions. (ECF Nos. 84, 85.)

         On April 19, 2017, Carter filed the Motion to Alter or Amend. (ECF No. 99.) On January 8, 2018, Carter filed the First Motion to Void, (ECF No. 104), and on February 20, 2018, Carter filed the Second Motion to Void, (ECF No. 106), (collectively, the "Second Set of Reconsideration Motions). In the Second Set of Reconsideration Motions, Carter reiterates his unsuccessful argument that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to decide the government's claim because the Constitution does not give the United States the power to tax its citizens, including him. The Court rejected those contentions in the Summary Judgment Opinion and in the April 29, 2016 Memorandum Opinion denying the First Set of Reconsideration Motions. The arguments continue to founder, both procedurally and on the merits.

         II. Analysis

         Carter's new motions substantially mirror his First Set of Reconsideration Motions. The Court will address the filings seriatim.

         A. Carter's Motion to Alter or Amend

         1. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) Standard

         Carter's Motion to Alter or Amend invokes Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) and seeks alteration of this Court's December 31, 2015 Final Order granting summary judgment to the United States. Rule 59(e) states that "[a] motion to alter or amend a judgment must be filed no later than 28 days after the entry of the judgment." Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 59(e).

         "[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) (citation omitted). Rule 59(e) itself provides no standard by which a district court may grant a motion to alter or amend a judgment, but "courts interpreting Rule 59(e) have recognized three grounds for amending an earlier judgment: (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). Such motions may not be used, however, "to raise arguments which could have been raised prior to the issuance of the judgment, nor may they be used to argue a case under a novel legal theory that the party had the ability to address in the first instance." Pac. Ins. Co., 148 F.3d at 403. Moreover, "[a] party's mere disagreement with the court's ruling does not warrant a Rule 59(e) motion . . .." Smith v. Donahoe, 917 F.Supp.2d 562, 572 (E.D. Va. 2013) (citing Pac. Ins. Co., 148 F.3d at 403). Indeed, Rule 59(e) does not "give an unhappy litigant one additional chance to sway the judge." Durkin v. Taylor, 444 F.Supp. 879, 889 (E.D. Va. 1977) (stating that plaintiffs brief in support of his motion to alter or amend the judgment was "no more than an expression of a view of the law contrary to that set forth in the Court's opinion, " and thus the court had no proper basis to alter or amend its previous order).

         2. Carter's Motion to Alter or Amend Is Untimely and Fails to Satisfy the Rule 59(e) Standard

         As the Court previously held in its April 29, 2016 Memorandum Opinion and Order, the Court sees no basis to vacate its December 31, 2015 Final Order granting summary judgment to the United States. Although Carter has framed his contentions slightly differently, he presents no new arguments in addition to those that he filed earlier. Moreover, Carter filed the Motion to Alter or Amend on April 19, 2017, more than twenty-eight days-indeed more than a year- after the Court entered its final judgment on December 31, 2015.[6] The untimeliness of the Motion to Alter or Amend constitutes sufficient grounds to deny Carter's motion. However, even if the Court were to consider the Motion to Alter or Amend, it would deny it on the merits.

         Carter's Motion to Alter or Amend raises no issues or facts satisfying the grounds for altering or amending a judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e). In his motion, Carter reiterates that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. (Mot. Alter or Am. 1-2, ECF No. 99.) Specifically, Carter challenges Congress's authority to create income tax law, the Executive Branch's authority to enforce the law, and the Court's ability to take jurisdiction on an associated matter (the "Constitutional Authority Argument"). Carter asserts that "the record in this action is completely devoid of any proper declaration or fully identified subject-matter jurisdiction of the district court" because the Court has not stated "the constitutional foundation and legal basis for the action." (Id. at 2.)

         The Court rejected Carter's Constitutional Authority Arguments in both its Summary Judgment Opinion and in its April 29, 2016 Memorandum Opinion. In those opinions, the Court thoroughly explained that it possesses subject matter jurisdiction over the case because Congress has authorized its jurisdiction under three separate statutes applicable to this action: (1) 28 U.S.C. § 1340, (2) 28 U.S.C. § 1345, and (3) 26 U.S.C. § 7402. (See Dec. 31, 2015 Mem. Op. 10.)

         Furthermore, Carter fails to satisfy any of the three standards for granting a motion to alter or amend a judgment. First, Carter identifies no change in controlling law. Since December 31, 2015, none has occurred. Second, Carter presents no "new evidence" supporting his position. Instead, he repeats his Constitutional Authority Argument. Third, Carter proffers no basis from which the Court must correct a clear error of law or prevent a manifest injustice. Therefore, alteration of this Court's December 31, 2015 final judgment would be an "extraordinary remedy" not warranted here. Pac. Ins. Co., 148 F.3d at 403. Accordingly, the Court will deny the Motion to Alter or Amend.

         B. Carter's Motions to Void

         Carter's remaining motions fail for the same reasons as does his Motion to Alter or Amend. They do not meet the required standards of the procedural rules invoked, and Carter's repeated incantation of incorrect constitutional principles remains flawed. Indeed, the level of repetition appears vexatious given the number of decisions the Court has entered plainly identifying black letter law: the United States has the power to tax its ...


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