United States District Court, D. Vermont
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM K. SESSIONS III DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
Stephen Aguiar, proceeding pro se, is currently
serving a 30-year prison term as a result of his 2011
conviction for drug distribution and conspiracy. In the
instant civil action, Aguiar claims that various parties who
were involved in the investigation and prosecution of his
criminal case violated his federal rights. The Court
previously granted motions to dismiss filed by Defendants
Richard Carter, Justin Couture, Jared Hatch, Andrew Laudate,
Eugenia Cowles, Wendy Fuller, Timothy Doherty, Paul Van de
Graaf, and Katherine Myrick (collectively the “Federal
Defendants”). Aguiar now moves for reconsideration of
portions of those rulings. Specifically, Aguiar contests the
dismissal of various claims on the basis of collateral
estoppel, Heck v. Humphrey, and timeliness. For the
reasons set forth below, the motion for reconsideration is
facts underlying dismissal of the Federal Defendants are set
forth in the Court's prior Opinion and Order, and the
parties' familiarity with those facts is presumed.
Briefly stated, Aguiar has been convicted of federal drug
and/or firearm offenses three times in the District of
Vermont, most recently in 2011. The 2011 conviction was
upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second
now claims constitutional and statutory violations related to
his 2011 conviction. Several of the claims asserted in this
case were raised previously either in Aguiar's direct
appeal, or in his Section 2255 motion for collateral relief,
or both. Accordingly, upon motions from the Federal
Defendants, the Court dismissed certain claims on the basis
of collateral estoppel. The Court dismissed other claims on
the basis of the Supreme Court's ruling in Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994), which held that a
prisoner cannot bring a civil complaint where judgment in his
favor would necessarily imply the invalidity of his
conviction. Finally, the Court found that certain claims are
untimely. Aguiar now moves for reconsideration of those
accepted standard for granting a motion for reconsideration
“is strict, and reconsideration will generally be
denied unless the moving party can point to controlling
decisions or data that the court overlooked.”
Analytical Surveys, Inc. v. Tonga Partners, L.P.,
684 F.3d 36, 52 (2d Cir. 2012) (citation omitted).
Reconsideration may also be granted if the movant
demonstrates an “intervening change in controlling law,
the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a
clear error or prevent manifest injustice.” Kolel
Beth Yechiel Mechil of Tartikov, Inc. v. YLL Irrevocable
Trust, 729 F.3d 99, 104 (2d Cir. 2013) (citing
Virgin Atl. Airways, Ltd. v. Nat'l Mediation
Bd., 956 F.2d 1245 (2d Cir. 1992)). A motion for
reconsideration “is neither an occasion for repeating
old arguments previously rejected nor an opportunity for
making new arguments that could have been previously
advanced.” Assoc. Press v. U.S. Dep't of
Def., 395 F.Supp.2d 17, 19 (S.D.N.Y. 2005).
Claims Against Assistant United States
first contends that the Court should not have dismissed his
claim, set forth in Count 8 of the Complaint, that AUSAs Van
De Graaf and Fuller falsified a court stamp on a July 2, 2009
wiretap application. The Court dismissed the claims in Count
8 on the basis of collateral estoppel, finding that the
Second Circuit had already determined the propriety of the
application. Aguiar now submits that while the matter of
authorization was presented previously, the question of
falsification has not been addressed.
reconsideration motion cites paragraphs 68 and 76 of his
Complaint. Paragraph 68 claims that the July 2, 2009 Title
III warrant was filed with the Court on July 6, 2009. As
explained in the prior Paragraph, and in documents submitted
previously by the government, the warrant was signed after
hours on July 2, July 3 was a holiday, and filing therefore
did not occur until July 6. Accordingly, the document was
stamped as received on July 6, 2009. Paragraph 76 alleges
that when defense counsel moved to suppress the wiretap
application as incomplete, AUSAs Fuller and Doherty submitted
to the Court a copy of the July 2, 2009 wiretap application.
Neither paragraph presents a clear claim of falsification.
Moreover, Aguiar's reconsideration motion cites an
exhibit from his criminal case (No. 2:09-cr-90, ECF No.
215-5) which is entirely consistent with the explanation of
events offered by both the government and Aguiar's
Complaint. Upon reconsideration, the Court finds no reason to
alter the determination that this claim is barred.
next argues that Heck should not apply to his claims
of fabricated GPS evidence, unlawfully obtained MySpace
evidence, and falsification of the July 2, 2009 date stamp.
With respect to the GPS evidence, this Court previously
determined that such evidence was one of the key components
of the government's case against him. Aguiar's
reconsideration motion relies upon his Brady
challenge to the GPS, though this Court found previously that
his Brady claim was without merit. Id. (ECF
No. 767 at 73-75). Consequently, even assuming that the GPS
evidence alone was not critical to Aguiar's conviction,
he is estopped from raising that claim again.
similarly claims that evidence obtained from his MySpace
account, which included photographs of his vehicle and
messages sent from his user number, was previously held to be
non-prejudicial. In its ruling on Aguiar's ineffective
assistance of counsel claim, the Magistrate Judge determined
that Aguiar had not carried his burden of proof with respect
to prejudice because the amount of evidence against him was
overwhelming. Here, the Court considered the role of the
challenged evidence in the aggregate. In that context, and
given the role of such evidence in helping law enforcement
accumulate other evidence, Aguiar's challenges would
undermine the validity of his conviction.
as the Court held previously, there is no basis for an
inference that the AUSA Defendants were involved in any
wrongdoing with respect to the evidence in question. As
alleged in the Complaint, the MySpace information was pursued
by means of a DEA subpoena. GPS evidence was allegedly
fabricated by DEA agents and contractors. While Aguiar argues
that the AUSA Defendants “lied before and during
trial” about the authenticity and origin of the GPS
evidence, the cited paragraphs of the Complaint (paragraphs
79-80) merely recount DEA agent trial testimony.
Prosecutorial introduction of such testimony is insufficient
for a plausible claim of unconstitutional conduct.