Jan 31, 2018

In re Black, No. 17-2147 (Guy, Daughtrey, Sutton) (PER CURIAM)

In re Black, No. 17-2147 (Guy, Daughtrey, Sutton) (PER CURIAM).

Black was convicted on drug charges, and the district court sentenced him to an effective term of life in prison. Black sought relief under § 2255, and the district court denied the motion to vacate and refused to issue a certificate of appealability. Black then filed a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), seeking relief from the order denying his § 2255 motion. He argued, among other things, that the Assistant U.S. Attorney “perpetrated fraud on the Court” before and during his criminal trial. The district court transferred the motion to the Sixth Circuit to determine whether Black may proceed with the second or successive claims.

The Sixth Circuit noted that Black’s claims were “second or successive” if Black sought to add a new ground for relief or attacked the court’s merits decision, but that the claims would not be “second or successive” if he merely attacked a defect in the integrity of the federal habeas proceedings. The Sixth Circuit, relying on precedents from other Circuits, agreed that a fraud-on-the-court argument is “second or successive” unless it calls into question “the integrity of the federal habeas proceedings.” Because Black had merely challenged the AUSA’s conduct at trial, and did not argue that the allegedly fraudulent conduct had tainted the district court’s assessment of the federal habeas petition, Black had not called into question the integrity of the habeas proceedings. His petition was therefore second or successive.