United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
OPINION AND ORDER
CAMERON MCGOWAN CURRIE Senior United States District Judge.
matter is before the court on Petitioner's pro
se motion for relief on the pleadings, filed July 26,
2017. ECF No. 50. An attachment to the motion notes
Petitioner wishes to file this motion under Fed.R.Civ.P.
60(b)(1), and that it was “mislabeled as a motion for
judgment on pleadings.” ECF No. 50-1. The substance of
Petitioner's motion argues his claims presented in the
underlying action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254: that
South Carolina Code § 17-25-45, which provides a
sentence of life imprisonment for offenders with certain
predicate offenses, is unconstitutional under the equal
protection clause. Respondent has filed a response in
opposition, noting the filing is untimely. ECF No. 51.
Petitioner filed a reply, arguing the prison mailroom failed
to send his objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report
on time because it was “in transition of training new
staff to handle mail.” ECF No. 52.
appears Petitioner has attempted to file this motion under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1), which allows relief from judgment for
“mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable
neglect.” “The remedy provided by the Rule
[60(b)], however, is extraordinary and is only to be invoked
upon a showing of exceptional circumstances.”
Compton v. Alton S.S. Co., 608 F.2d 96, 102 (4th
Cir. 1979). “To obtain relief under the Rule, a party
must demonstrate inter alia that he was not at fault
and that the nonmoving party will not be prejudiced by the
relief from judgment.” Home Port Rentals, Inc. v.
Ruben, 957 F.2d 126, 132 (4th Cir. 1992).
December 13, 2016, Petitioner filed a motion for discovery in
this case. ECF No. 20. Respondent filed a response in
opposition on December 28, 2016 (ECF No. 21), and Petitioner
replied on January 11, 2017 (ECF No. 26.) In addition,
Respondent filed its return and a motion for summary judgment
on January 6, 2017. ECF Nos. 22, 23. Petitioner's
response in opposition to summary judgment was filed March 6,
2017 (ECF No. 27), Respondent's reply was filed on March
7, 2017, and Petitioner filed a sur reply on March 16, 2017
(ECF No. 29). On April 18, 2017, the Magistrate Judge denied
Petitioner's motion for discovery. ECF No. 30.
24, 2017, the Magistrate Judge filed a Report and
Recommendation (“Report”) recommending
Respondent's motion for summary judgment be granted. ECF
No. 35. The same day, an appeal by Petitioner of the
Magistrate Judge's order denying discovery was taken to
this court. ECF No. 37. Petitioner also filed a motion to
stay proceedings while the appeal of the motion for discovery
was pending. ECF No. 38. Respondent filed a response in
opposition to the motion to stay (ECF No. 39). On June 14, 2017,
this court affirmed the Magistrate Judge's order denying
discovery and granted Petitioner's motion to stay, to the
extent it extended the time for filing objections to the
Report. ECF No. 40. The court granted Petitioner an
additional fourteen days to file objections, which were then
due July 1, 2017 (due to the additional three days allowed by
Fed.R.Civ.P. when served by mail). On July 12, 2017, this
court issued an order adopting the Report, granting
Respondent's motion for summary judgment, and dismissing
the matter with prejudice. ECF No. 43.
14, 2017, the court received a motion for extension of time
to file objections from Petitioner. ECF No. 46. The court
denied this motion because the request was untimely: although
the motion itself, in Petitioner's handwriting, was dated
June 30 (within the time period allowed), a stamp on the
envelope notes it was received in the Lee CI Mail Room on
July 11, 2017. ECF No. 47. Petitioner thereafter filed the
instant motion on July 26, 2017. ECF No. 50.
reply, Petitioner states his motion for extension to file
objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report was untimely
because “the institutional mailroom failed to send the
mail out in time . . . when mailroom was in transition of
training new staff to handle mail.” ECF No. 52. It is
true there seem to be some irregularities in the mailrooms.
The envelope for Plaintiff's motion for extension (ECF
No. 46) bears a stamp that states “SCDC MAIL ROOM Jul
29 2017, ” but another stating “RECEIVED LEE CI
MAIL ROOM JUL 11 2017.” This motion was postmarked July
13, 2017 and received at the District Court on July 14, 2017;
therefore, the stamp bearing the date of July 29, 2017,
cannot be correct. Similarly, the envelope with
Petitioner's reply to this motion (ECF No. 52) has two
stamps on it as well: “RECEIVED MAILROOM LIEBER CI AUG
14 2017” and “SCDC MAIL ROOM SEPT 1 2017.”
It was postmarked August 14 and received by the court August
17. Again, it is not possible for the September 1 stamp to be
irregularity in the correctional institution mailrooms was
confirmed by the court's receipt of Petitioner's
reply bearing two stamps, one of which could not be correct.
This casts doubt on when Petitioner's motion for
extension was actually given to the mailroom. Therefore, due
to these anomalies, it appears Petitioner is able to
demonstrate he is not at fault for the “excusable
neglect” rendering the motion for extension untimely.
the non-moving party would be not be prejudiced by the relief
from judgment. Respondent has already made its return and
fully briefed its motion for summary judgment. ECF Nos. 22,
23. Respondent would not be required to file anything else if
relief from judgment was granted: Petitioner would get a
chance to file objections to the Report, but none would be
required from Respondent.
as Petitioner has demonstrated the requirements of Rule
60(b)(1), his motion is granted. The judgment of this court
entered July 12, 2017 will be vacated, and Petitioner will
have an opportunity to file his objections to the Report by
October 6, 2017. No further extensions will be granted absent
a showing of good cause.
IS SO ORDERED.
 While Petitioner filed a reply, it was
not received by the court until after the order was entered.