United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION & ORDER DENYING OR DISMISSING
PETITIONER'S POST-JUDGMENT MOTIONS
N. PARRISH United States District Judge.
the court are five motions filed pro se by
Petitioner, Aaron David Trent Needham: (1) Motion of Rule
60(b) (ECF No. 50); (2) Motion for Rehearing for COA (ECF No.
61); (3) Motion for Extension of Time (ECF No. 63); (4)
Motion for Electronic Filing (ECF No. 64); and (5) Motion for
Extension of Time to File (ECF No. 67).
2007, Aaron David Trent Needham was charged with passing or
issuing a bad check. On November 17, 2009, Needham entered a
guilty plea in abeyance. On June 27, 2014, Needham was
convicted of the third-degree felony of “Issuing or
Passing a Bad Check” and committed to prison for zero
to five years, having failed to complete his plea in
abeyance. State v. Needham, No. 071500692 (5th
Judicial Dist. Ct., Iron County, Utah 2014).
15, 2014, Needham filed a notice of appeal alleging abuse of
discretion for entering a conviction on a guilty plea for
which Needham had failed to complete the abeyance. Docketing
Statement, State v. Needham, No. 20140658-CA (Utah
Ct. App. 2015); See Memorandum in Support, Exhibit
5, ECF No. 54-5. On September 29, 2015, the Utah Court of
Appeals affirmed Needham's conviction, rejecting his
arguments on procedural grounds. State v. Needham,
No. 20140658-CA, slip. op. at 2 (Utah Ct. App. Sept. 29,
then filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the Utah
Supreme Court in October, 2015, which was denied as
premature. See Order, April 13, 2016, Needham v.
State, No. 20151091-SC (Utah Jan. 27, 2016). Needham
filed a second petition for writ of certiorari on December
14, 2015, which was denied as well. Needham v.
State, 369 P.3d 451 (Utah 2016). He did not apply for
state post-conviction relief.
March 18, 2016, Needham filed a pro se Petition for
Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 seeking
relief from the Utah state court conviction. Needham's
arguments included: unknowing, involuntary plea; error of not
disqualifying the prosecutor; defense counsel conflict of
interest; wrongful denial of the opportunity to withdraw his
guilty plea; wrongful denial of state trial court recusal;
and error regarding ruling on Rule 60(b) motion. On January,
5, 2018, this court granted the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No.
24) filed by Respondent, the State of Utah, and denied
Needham's habeas petition and his
conditions-of-confinements claims raised in the petition.
Memorandum Decision and Order, ECF No. 42. The Court reasoned
that the challenges brought by Petitioner were procedurally
barred in state court, and thus also barred in a federal
habeas petition, and that no exception applied to excuse the
then appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. However,
he did so without first requesting a certificate of
appealability (“COA”) from the district court.
Under 28 USC § 2253(c), a petitioner cannot appeal a
“final order in a habeas corpus proceeding in which the
detention complained of arises out of process issued by a
State court” without having been issued a COA from a
circuit justice or circuit or district judge. Fed. R. App. P.
22(b)(1). Following United States v. Higley, No.
17-1111 (10th Cir. 2017) (holding that a district court must
decide whether to issue a COA in the first instance), the
Tenth Circuit abated the appeal and directed a limited remand
to the district court to determine whether to issue a
certificate of appealability (“COA”). ECF No. 47.
February 14, 2018, this court determined that no
“jurist of reason could debate the conclusion that Mr.
Needham's claims were procedurally barred and not subject
to an exception.” Order Denying Certificate of
Appealability 2, ECF No. 48. The Tenth Circuit then lifted
the abatement of the appeal on February 15, 2018. Order,
February 15, 2018, App. No. 18-4014, Doc. 01019945870. The
order was entered in the district court on February 28, 2018.
ECF No. 49.
February 28, 2018, Petitioner filed a motion under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) seeking relief from judgment on grounds of
“mistakes; inadvertence; excusable neglect; newly
discovered evidence; fraud; [and] any other reason justifying
relief from the operation of the judgment.” Motion of
Rule 60(b) (“Motion”) 1, ECF No. 50.
Petitioner's Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) motion was pending in
this court, on July 16, 2018, the Tenth Circuit denied
Needham's COA request and dismissed his appeal. Order
Denying Certificate of Appealability, July 16, 2018, App. No.
18-4014, Doc. 010110022964; Mandate of USCA and Order Denying
COA, ECF No. 59. On July 25, 2018, Needham filed a motion for
“Rehearing for COA” in the district court
(“Rehearing Motion”). These two motions, the
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) Motion and the Rehearing Motion, are
before the court. Also before the court are three other
procedural motions filed by Needham, two motions for
extension of time and a motion for electronic filing.
Rules of Civil Procedure 60(b) Motion
files his Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) Motion seeking relief from
judgment on grounds of “mistakes; inadvertence;
excusable neglect; newly discovered evidence; fraud; [and]
any other reason justifying relief from the operation of
judgment.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) Motion 1. Specifically,
he makes six claims for relief: “Count I: Denial of
access to the courts;” “Count II: Ineffective
assistance of counsel;” “Count III: ineffective
assistance of counsel;” “Count IV: Prosecutorial
misconduct;” “Count 5: Judicial Error;”
“Count IV: Denial of Access to the Courts - ineffective
counsel.” For reasons that will be discussed below,
Counts I-IV and VI are dismissed for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction and Count V is denied.