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McKnight v. Ladner

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Western Division

June 26, 2019

JAMES DOUGLAS McKNIGHT, #38913 PETITIONER
v.
WARDEN BRIAN LADNER RESPONDENT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DAVID C. BRAMLETTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This cause is before the Court on the Petitioner James Douglas McKnight (McKnight”)'s Motion for Extension of Time to File Notice of Appeal (docket entry 34), Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (docket entry 38), and Motion for Certificate of Appealability (docket entry 39).

         Having carefully considered the Petitioner's motions and the Respondent's Response in Opposition to the Petitioner's Motion for Time to File Notice of Appeal (docket entry 40), the Court finds as follows:

         Petitioner McKnight filed his federal habeas petition in this cause on September 5, 2017 (docket entry 1). Pursuant to this Court's Order to Answer filed October 11, 2017 (docket entry 6), as well as two extensions requested and granted to the Respondent, counsel for the Respondent timely filed an Answer to the petition on March 9, 2018, addressing the forty-one (41) claims raised therein (docket entry 10). Magistrate Judge John C. Gargiulo issued his Report and Recommendation on February 11, 2019 (docket entry 24).

         On April 2, 2019, this Court entered an Order Adopting Report and Recommendation and a separate Final Judgment dismissing McKnight's federal habeas petition with prejudice (docket entries 31 and 32). McKnight has now filed a motion for time to file a notice of appeal (docket entry 34)[1], and this Court deferred ruling on the motion and ordered Respondent to file a response by June 14, 2019 (docket entry 36).

         As noted above, this Court entered its Final Judgment dismissing McKnight's petition on April 2, 2019 (docket entries 31 and 32). The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure provide that a notice of appeal must be filed within “30 days after entry of the judgment.” Fed.R.App.P. 4(a)(1). McKnight did not file a notice of appeal within the time frame allotted by Rule 4. However, on May 8, 2019, McKnight filed a motion requesting an extension of time to file a notice of appeal because his “access to the prison law library is limited to once per week, ” and he contends that the extension is necessary to “thoroughly research applicable case law ....” (docket entry 34).

         With respect to a motion for extension of time, Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(5)(A) provides as follows:

(A) The district court may extend the time to file a notice of appeal if:
(i) a party so moves no later than 30 days after the time prescribed by this Rule(4)(a) expires; and
(ii) regardless of whether its motion is filed before or during the 30 days after the time prescribed by this Rule 4(a) expires, that party shows excusable neglect or good cause.

Fed.R.App.P. 4(a)(5)(A).

         In this case, McKnight's notice of appeal was due in this Court on or before May 2, 2019 (thirty days after entry of this Court's Order and Final Judgment dismissing McKnight's claims). McKnight has satisfied subsection (i) because he filed his motion for an extension of time within thirty (30) days of the expiration of the deadline. Thus, the issue before this Court is whether McKnight has shown either excusable neglect or good cause, which would permit this Court to extend the time for filing an appeal under this Rule. The Respondent urges the Court to find that McKnight has failed to do so.

         The Advisory Committee Notes for the 2002 Amendments to Rule 4 explain that “excusable neglect” and “good cause” are distinctly different standards:

The excusable neglect standard applies in situations in which there is fault; in such situations, the need for an extension is usually occasioned by something within the control of the movant. The good cause standard applies in situations in which there is no fault - excusable or otherwise. In such situations, the need for an ...

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