United States District Court, D. Arizona
PAUL G. ROSENBLATT, District Judge.
Before the Court is Petitioner's motion to alter or amend judgment. (Doc. 49.) Petitioner asks the Court to reconsider its order and judgment of March 14, 2014, which denied Petitioner's motion for evidentiary development and his petition for habeas corpus relief. (Docs. 47, 48.) Respondents filed a response in opposition. (Doc. 51.) As set forth below, the motion will be denied.
A motion to alter or amend judgment under Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is in essence a motion for reconsideration. Motions for reconsideration are disfavored and appropriate only if the court is "presented with newly discovered evidence, committed clear error, or if there is an intervening change in the controlling law." McDowell v. Calderon, 197 F.3d 1253, 1255 (9th Cir. 1999) (per curiam) (quoting 389 Orange St. Partners v. Arnold, 179 F.3d 656, 665 (9th Cir. 1999)); see School Dist. No. 1J, Multnomah County, Or. v. ACandS, Inc., 5 F.3d 1255, 1263 (9th Cir. 1993).
Motions for reconsideration are not the place for parties to make new arguments not raised in their original briefs. Northwest Acceptance Corp. v. Lynnwood Equip., Inc., 841 F.2d 918, 925-26 (9th Cir. 1988). A motion for reconsideration should not "be used to ask the court to rethink what the court had already thought through-rightly or wrongly." United States v. Rezzonico, 32 F.Supp.2d 1112, 1116 (D.Ariz. 1998) (quotation omitted).
Petitioner argues that he is entitled to reconsideration because the Court committed clear error in denying Claims 4, 16, 26, 30, and 39. The Court disagrees.
Petitioner alleged that the trial court violated his right to a fair and impartial jury by improperly limiting the scope of voir dire and inappropriately rehabilitating prospective jurors. (Doc. 25 at 22.) The Court denied the claim. (Doc. 47 at 36-40.)
In his motion for reconsideration, Petitioner states that the Court "failed entirely to address Petitioner's allegation that the trial court's actions during voir dire detrimentally impacted counsel's credibility, particularly in light of the trial court's failure to similarly interrupt the state." (Doc. 49 at 3.) The Court failed to address this argument because Petitioner did not raise it in his habeas petition. ( See Doc. 25 at 22-32.)
Petitioner also contends that in denying Claim 4 the Court "adhere[d] to the Arizona Supreme Court's improper standard requiring that, in order to succeed on this claim, Petitioner must demonstrate that an automatic death penalty juror sat on his jury." (Doc. 49 at 3.) Petitioner misapprehends the basis of this Court's ruling.
The Court found that the Arizona Supreme Court's denial of the claim was not based on an unreasonable application of Morgan v. Illinois, 504 U.S. 719 (1992). (Doc. 47 at 40.) Morgan requires "an adequate voir dire to identify unqualified jurors, " including those who would "impose death regardless of the facts and circumstances of the conviction." 504 U.S. at 727 , 729, 736. The Arizona Supreme Court considered and rejected Petitioner's arguments that the trial court conducted voir dire in a manner that violated Morgan. State v. Smith, 215 Ariz. 221, 230-32, 159 P.3d 531, 540-42 (2007). In reaching this conclusion the court further noted that Petitioner, notwithstanding his contention that automatic death penalty jurors could have been seated due to the improper voir dire process, failed to "offer any examples of deliberating jurors whom the trial judge improperly rehabilitated." Id. at 231-32, 159 P.3d 541-42. The court did not require Petitioner to make such a showing to be entitled to relief under Morgan. This Court concluded, therefore, that the Arizona Supreme Court's ruling was neither contrary to nor an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law, 28 U.S.C. 2254(d)(1), and Petitioner was not entitled to relief on Claim 4. (Doc. 47 at 40.) The Court rejects Petitioner's argument that this decision was clearly erroneous.
Petitioner alleged that his rights to counsel, to a reliable sentence, and to due process were violated when the trial court instructed the jury to consider a statutory mitigating factor over defense counsel=s objection. (Doc. 25 at 73B77.)
Petitioner asserts that the Court committed clear error in denying Claim 16 because it failed "to address Petitioner's allegation that the trial court's instruction deprived him of his right to ...