United States District Court, D. Arizona
A. Teilborg Senior United States District Judge
the Court is Styers's Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment.
(Doc. 34.) Pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, Styers asks the Court to alter or amend its
order and judgment denying his habeas petition. (Docs. 32,
33.) Also before the Court is Styers's motion for a
certificate of appealability. (Doc. 35.) For the reasons set
forth below, the motions are denied.
Motion to Alter/Amend
59(e) motion is an “extraordinary remedy, to be used
sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of
judicial resources.” Wood v. Ryan, 759 F.3d
1117, 1121 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Kona Enters., Inc. v.
Estate of Bishop, 229 F.3d 877, 890 (9th Cir. 2000)). A
motion brought under Rule 59(e) should be granted only in
“highly unusual circumstances.” Kona,
229 F.3d at 890. It may not be used to raise arguments or
present evidence for the first time that reasonably could
have been raised earlier, id., nor is it the time
“to ask the court to rethink what it has already
thought through-rightly or wrongly, ” United States
v. Rezzonico, 32 F.Supp.2d 1112, 1116 (D. Ariz. 1998)
(quotation omitted). A district court may grant a Rule 59(e)
motion if it “‘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) (en banc) (quoting 389 Orange St. Partners v.
Arnold, 179 F.3d 656, 665 (9th Cir. 1999)).
Court found that Claims 3, 5, 7, and 8 of Styers's habeas
petition were rendered moot by the Ninth Circuit's
decision in Styers v. Ryan, 811 F.3d 292 (9th Cir.
2015) (“Styers IV”). Styers now contends
that the Ninth Circuit did not consider the Eighth Amendment
aspects of his allegation that the Arizona Supreme Court, in
its second independent review of his death sentence,
State v. Styers, 227 Ariz. 186, 254 P.3d 1132 (2011)
(“Styers III”), failed to consider all
of his mitigation evidence, including “non-PTSD”
evidence. (Doc. 34 at 4.) This argument remains unpersuasive.
Ninth Circuit remanded the case and ordered this Court to
grant a conditional writ on the grounds that the state courts
did not consider and give effect to Styers's PTSD as
mitigating evidence. Styers v. Schriro, 547 F.3d
1026, 1035 (9th Cir. 2008) (“Styers
II”). The appellate court did not “express
or imply any opinion as to the appropriate sentence in this
case, ” explaining that the proper sentence “is a
matter for the state courts, so long as the constitutional
obligations under Eddings and Clemons are
honored.” Id. at 1036. This Court granted the
conditional writ. In response, the Arizona Supreme Court
conducted a new independent sentencing review and reaffirmed
the trial court's original capital sentence. Styers
III, 227 Ariz. 186, 254 P.3d 1132.
Styers IV, the Ninth Circuit upheld the Arizona
Supreme Court's determination that a jury resentencing
was not required under Ring and found that the state
supreme court corrected its Eddings error by
properly considering the mitigating evidence that Styers
suffers from PTSD. 811 F.3d at 297-99. Contrary to
Styers's principal argument, the Arizona Supreme Court
“consider[ed] whether Styers's PTSD, in
combination with the other mitigating evidence, provides
mitigation sufficiently substantial to warrant
leniency.” Styers III, 227 Ariz. at 189, 254
P.3d at 1135 (emphasis added). Additionally, in finding that
the Arizona Supreme Court had corrected the Eddings
error, Styers IV, 811 F.3d at 298-99, the Ninth
Circuit necessarily rejected Styers's Eighth Amendment
Court did not err in finding Claims 3, 5, 7, and 8 without
merit. Styers's Motion to Alter or Amend is denied.
Certificate of Appealability
seeks a certificate of appealability with respect to the
Court's rulings on each of his habeas claims. Rule 11(a)
of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases provides that the
district judge must either issue or deny a certificate of
appealability when it enters a final order adverse to the
applicant. If a certificate is issued, the court must state
the specific issue or issues that satisfy 28 U.S.C. §
2253(c)(2). Under § 2253(c)(2), a certificate of
appealability may issue only when the petitioner “has
made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional
right.” This showing can be established by
demonstrating that “reasonable jurists could debate
whether (or, for that matter, agree that) the petition should
have been resolved in a different manner” or that the
issues were “adequate to deserve encouragement to
proceed further.” Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S.
473, 484 (2000) (quoting Barefoot v. Estelle, 463
U.S. 880, 893 & n. 4 (1983)).
reasons already discussed, with respect to Claims 3, 5, 7,
and 8, no reasonable jurist could disagree that the claims
are moot based on the Ninth Circuit's ruling in
Styers IV. This Court previously found that Claims
1, 2, 4, and 6 constituted a second or successive petition.
(Doc. 19 at 6-7.) Styers's counterargument is that a full
mitigation investigation would reveal additional evidence to
support the claims. The Court has already rejected this
argument. (Doc. 32 at 5-7.) An assertion that additional
evidence exists does not change the fact that the claims
themselves were or could have been raised in Styers's
first petition. Reasonable jurists could not disagree that
the claims must be dismissed under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b).
IT IS ORDERED denying Styers's Motion to
Alter or Amend Judgment. (Doc. 34.)
IS FURTHER ORDERED denying Styers's Motion for a