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Quiel v. USA

United States District Court, D. Arizona

September 14, 2018

Michael Quiel, Petitioner,
USA, Respondent.



         Pending before the Court is Michael Quiel's (“Petitioner”) Amended Motion to Reconsider Order, (Doc. 24), which fully incorporates Petitioner's Motion to Reconsider Order, (Doc. 23). Much of the background of this case is set out in this Court's order denying Petitioner's request for 28 U.S.C. § 2255 relief. (Doc. 21). Subsequent to the Court's denial of § 2255 relief: (1) Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration and an amended motion for reconsideration, (Docs. 23 & 24); (2) the Government filed a response to Petitioner's amended motion for reconsideration, (Doc. 31), pursuant to this Court's order, (Doc. 28), and Petitioner permissibly filed a reply, (Doc. 32); and (3) the Government filed evidence allegedly establishing that at least one attorney in the underlying criminal case was appointed pursuant to the Appointments Clause and gave the statutorily-required oath of office, (Doc. 35), as required by the Court, (Doc. 34), and Petitioner objected to that evidence, (Doc. 36), which he later supplemented, (Doc. 37).[1]

         I. Governing Law

         Motions for reconsideration are disfavored, and “[t]he Court will ordinarily deny” such motions “absent a showing of manifest error or a showing of new facts or legal authority that could not have been brought to its attention earlier with reasonable diligence.” LRCiv 7.2(g). The party seeking reconsideration must “point out with specificity the matters the movant believes were overlooked or misapprehended by the Court, any new matters brought to the Court's attention for the first time and the reasons they were not presented earlier, and any specific modifications being sought in the Court's order.” Id. The movant is not permitted to repeat arguments that were rejected in the challenged order. Id. The Court may deny a motion for reconsideration for failure to abide by any of these rules.

         II. Analysis

         Petitioner contends that the Court erred in deciding three of his arguments in favor of § 2255 relief. (Docs. 23 & 24).

         A. Appointments Clause [2]

         Petitioner first contends that the Court erred in finding that the attorneys who prosecuted his criminal case were appropriately appointed and had taken the statutorily required oaths of office, and additionally by concluding that it had subject-matter jurisdiction over the case. (Doc. 23 at 2-6); (Doc. 32 at 3-7). Given that this Court must have subject-matter jurisdiction to render authoritative judgments, the Court ordered the Government to produce evidence that at least one of the attorneys who prosecuted the underlying criminal matter was properly appointed and took an oath of office. (Doc. 34). In response, the Government submitted evidence establishing that Timothy Stockwell (“Stockwell”) and Monica Edelstein (“Edelstein”) were both properly appointed and took the required oaths of office. See (Docs. 35-1-35-4). Petitioner filed an objection, followed by a supplemental objection, to the Government's evidence.[3]

         Petitioner seems to make three challenges to this evidence. First, Petitioner challenges the authenticity of the appointment affidavits. Second, he argues that the affidavits do not identify appropriate offices to which the attorneys were appointed. Third, he argues that the attorneys' oaths had expired. The Court will consider these arguments in turn.

         1. Authenticity

         Petitioner first challenges the Government's evidence on the ground that it is not authenticated and that its form suggests unreliability. (Doc. 36 at 3-4). Evidence introduced upon the Court's request in a § 2255 proceeding need not be authenticated. Rule 7 of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings (“If the motion is not dismissed, the judge may direct the parties to expand the record by submitting additional materials relating to the motion. The judge may require that these materials be authenticated.” (emphasis added)). Accordingly, the Court finds that the Government's evidence was appropriately introduced without authentication.

         Furthermore, the Court does not agree that the Government's evidence is in an unreliable form. According to Petitioner, the fact that the date stamps on the documents contain different fonts for the month and the day on the one hand, and the year on the other hand, suggests the possibility of fraud. (Doc. 36 at 3-4). Additionally, Petitioner contends that the appointment letters are different than others reviewed by Petitioner's counsel. (Id. at 4). Reasonable explanations exist for both discrepancies. As for the stamps, it is likely that the Government has a different stamp for the year than it does for the day and month. The difference in the wording and formatting of the appointment letters is explained by the fact that they were written by different appointing officers. Compare (Doc. 36-1 (providing that the appointing officer was John A. Marrella)), with (Doc. 35-2 (providing that the appointing officer was Ronald A. Cimino)), and (Doc. 35-4 (same)).

         2. Identification of Office

         Petitioner next contends that there is no “Office of the Trial Attorney” to which Stockwell and Edelstein could be appointed. (Doc. 36 at 5-6). In Huff v. United States, 10 F.3d 1440, 1443-44 (9th Cir. 1993), however, the Ninth Circuit held that a “trial attorney in the tax division of the Department of Justice” appropriately represented the United States in a criminal tax prosecution. A necessary implicit assumption of Huff is that a trial ...

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