United States District Court, District of Columbia
Kessler United States District Judge
is Jason Todd Reynolds, an inmate in a federal prison, who
was convicted of multiple felonies in 2011. Judgment as to
Jason Todd Reynolds [Dkt. No. 73]. In 2014, Mr. Reynolds
challenged his conviction under 28 U.S.C. § 2255,
arguing that his attorney in his criminal trial had provided
him with unconstitutionally ineffective assistance. [Dkt. No.
96]. Mr. Reynolds' Motion to Vacate under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 was fully briefed, and the Court held an
evidentiary hearing on February 2 and 3, 2015
("Evidentiary Hearing"). See Memorandum Order
Denying Motion to Vacate at 6 [Dkt. No. 140]. Ultimately, on
February 19, 2015, the Court denied Mr. Reynolds' Motion
to Vacate his conviction. Id.
Reynolds now asks this Court to vacate the judgment of
February 19, 2015, alleging that various officials within the
Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") conspired to keep him
from participating in the Evidentiary Hearing, and thereby
committed a fraud on this Court and deprived him of his right
to due process. Petition for Relief Under Federal Rule 60(b)
and 60(d) ("Petition") [Dkt. No. 151]. In addition,
Mr. Reynolds brings a number of ancillary claims alleging
that: 1) an individual BOP official violated his
constitutional rights; 2) various BOP officials have
falsified his prison records, resulting in poorer conditions
of confinement and the prospect of more time in prison; and
3) the Department of Justice has violated the Freedom of
Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552.
After consideration of the Petition, the Opposition [Dkt. No
155], and the Reply [Dkt. No. 158], and the entire record
herein, Mr. Reynold's Petition will be denied.
January 22, 2014, Mr. Reynolds filed a Motion to Vacate his
conviction under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, arguing that his
attorney for his trial, Edward Sussman, had provided him with
ineffective assistance. [Dkt. No. 96]. Mr. Reynolds was
represented by David Bernstein on the §2255 Motion
challenging his conviction. On January 5, 2015, the Court
scheduled an Evidentiary Hearing for February 2, 2015. [Dkt.
around January 14, 2015, the BOP informed Mr. Reynolds that
it would not allow him to travel to the Evidentiary Hearing.
BOP officials claimed that there had been a chickenpox
outbreak at the prison where Mr. Reynolds was held and that
medical tests confirmed that he lacked immunity to the
chickenpox virus. Therefore, pursuant to BOP protocol, he was
not permitted to travel as he posed a transmission risk. On
January 21, 2015, Mr. Bernstein filed an Emergency Motion to
Compel BOP to produce Mr. Reynolds at the Evidentiary
Hearing. [Dkt. No. 131]. On January 28, 2015, the Court held
a status conference, by telephone, to discuss the Emergency
Motion. Subsequently, after informal negotiations between the
Government and Mr. Bernstein, the parties agreed that Mr.
Reynolds would appear by video. Exh. E to Opp'n [Dkt. No.
Court then held the Evidentiary Hearing, as scheduled, on
February 2 and 3, 2015, and Mr. Reynolds participated by
video conference. Transcript of Motions Hearing Volume 1
("February 2nd Transcript") at 5:19-21 (2015) [Dkt.
No. 136]. The transcript of the hearing makes clear that Mr.
Reynolds was able to testify fully on the morning of February
2, 2015, despite some technical issues. See id. at
59:19-22 (in which Mr. Bernstein concluded his questioning
and Mr. Reynolds was dismissed); see also
Id. at 9:25-10:1, 55:20-56:2 (discussing technical
issues, although confirming that Mr. Reynolds was able to
see, hear, and participate). At the conclusion of his
testimony, the video feed Mr. Reynolds used to testify was
disconnected, and he did not participate in the remaining
day-and-a-half of the Evidentiary Hearing. Id. at
60:6-7; Transcript of Motions Hearing Volume 2
("February 3rd Transcript") at 4:7-10 (2015) [Dkt.
No. 137] (noting that Mr. Reynolds was not present for the
second day of the Evidentiary Hearing).
response to the Court's question of whether his client
had agreed that he would only testify and not appear
electronically for the remainder of the hearing, Mr.
Bernstein stated: "Well, actually, Your Honor, we never
really entertained the possibility that he would be able to
listen to the entire hearing because we thought we would only
have video for two hours. But he did consent to give his
testimony via the video. I did talk to him about that."
February 2nd Transcript at 83:16-21; see also
February 3rd Transcript at 4:7-10 (noting that "Mr.
Reynolds has indicated his agreement for us to proceed
without him being present"). After Mr. Reynolds'
appearance at the Evidentiary Hearing, his Emergency Motion
was terminated as moot because BOP had, in fact, allowed him
to appear at the Evidentiary Hearing. MINUTE ORDER denying as
moot Dkt. No. 131 Motion to Compel as to JASON TODD REYNOLDS
(February 3, 2013) (available on ECF).
present Petition, Mr. Reynolds makes a number of distinct
claims. First, he alleges that BOP officials fabricated the
results of the chickenpox tests in order to prevent him from
appearing at the Evidentiary Hearing. He also alleges that,
during the Evidentiary Hearing, his BOP case manager, Charles
Wilson, disconnected the video feed after Mr. Reynolds had
finished testifying, thereby preventing him from
participating in the entirety of the Evidentiary Hearing.
Petition at 16-17, 20-21. He argues that the cumulative
effect of these actions was to deny him an ability to
effectively participate in the Evidentiary Hearing, thereby
depriving him of his Fifth Amendment right to due process and
perpetrating a fraud on the Court. Id. Second, Mr.
Reynolds argues that, by disconnecting the video feed, Mr.
Wilson violated various constitutional rights held by Mr.
Reynolds. Id. at 17-18, 20-21.
he claims that BOP officials deliberately falsified his
prison records and, that if these records were corrected, he
would be incarcerated for less prison time and eligible for
improved conditions of confinement during the remaining time
he is incarcerated. Petition at 23-36. Fourth and finally,
Mr. Reynolds claims that the Government has not properly
responded to a FOIA request he filed, requesting documents
related to his incarceration. Petition at 36-38.
CLAIMS UNDER FEDERAL RULE 60
preliminary matter, there is some dispute as to what
provisions of Rule 60 Mr. Reynolds relies on to bring this
petition. See Opposition at 6-10. Mr. Reynolds'
Petition is entitled "Petition for Relief Under Federal
Rule 60(b) and 60(d)"; but each of those subdivisions
contain several different bases on which a court may grant
reviewed Mr. Reynolds' Petition, it is readily apparent
that he brings his claims regarding the conduct of the
Evidentiary Hearing under subsections (b)(3), (b)(4), and
(d)(3) of Rule 60. Throughout his filings, Mr. Reynolds
repeatedly states that BOP's alleged attempts to prevent
his participation in the Evidentiary Hearing were based on
willful misrepresentations to the Court that he had
chickenpox. This allegation clearly falls within the ambit of
Rule 60(b)(3), which allows a court to relieve a party from a
final judgment for "fraud (whether previously called
intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by
an opposing party, " as well as Rule 60(d)(3), which
preserves the court's authority to "set aside a
judgment for fraud on the court." See
Mr. Reynolds repeatedly asserts that, as a result of these
misrepresentations to the Court, he was unable to participate
in the entirety of the Evidentiary Hearing, and that this
violated his Fifth Amendment right to due process. This
allegation clearly falls within the ambit of Rule 60(b)(4),
which applies '"where a judgment is premised ... on
a violation of due process that deprives a party of notice or
the opportunity to be heard.'" United States v.