District Judge Paul L. Friedman has denied a motion for relief from judgment filed by habeas petitioner Hussain Salem Mohammad Almerfedi. (The court’s classified opinion is dated October 26; a redacted version was not released until yesterday.)
Almerfedi prevailed before the habeas court but lost before the court of appeals, and his was among the Guantanamo cases that the Supreme Court declined to review this summer. But the petitioner’s attorneys called the district court’s attention to additional evidence, which the government disclosed only after the hearing on the merits, and which—in Almerfedi’s view—warranted further proceedings.
The essence of Judge Friedman’s ruling is to reject that claim, and thus not to reopen the case for further discovery and/or an evidentiary hearing. From the redacted opinion:
Petitioner seeks relief from judgment on the basis of documents produced to his counsel after the conclusion of the merits hearing on five separate occasions, from March 10, 2011 through December 4, 2011. Petitioner argues that the documents produced were at all times within the government’s possession and that the exculpatory material included within these documents shows that the government’s key witness in support of petitioner’s continued detention had been severely mistreated at Guantanamo, casting serious doubt on the reliability of his statements. Petitioner’s Motion for Relief at 3. Other documents produced by the government characterize this key witness [REDACTED] Id. at 3-4. In addition, petitioner points to another document that has recently become public, a 2009 report by the Inspector General of the Department of Defense concerning the use of mind-altering drugs on some Guantanamo detainees. Id. at 5.
Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a court may relieve a party from a final judgment or order for a variety of reasons, two of which are relevant here. Rule 60(b )(2) provides for relief based on “newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b).” FED. R. CIV. P. 60(b)(2). Rule 60(b)(3) provides for relief based on “fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party.” FED. R. Clv. P. 60(b)(3). Petitioner does not allege fraud or misrepresentation, but he does allege misconduct on the part of the government. The Court concludes that petitioner is not entitled to relief on either theory in the circumstances presented here.