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Thompson v. Missouri Board of Parole

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

November 29, 2017


          Douglas Thompson, pro se.


          Patrick J. Schiltz United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on plaintiff Douglas Thompson’s motion under Rule 60(d)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to set aside a judgment that was entered by this Court in 1989. For the reasons that follow, Thompson’s motion is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 1961, Thompson escaped from a California jail (where he was serving a sentence for armed robbery), went on a crime spree, and killed a police officer and another man in Missouri. After a total of four trials, Thompson was convicted of both murders and sentenced to life in prison. See Thompson v. Denney, No. 4:13CV1241 TIA, 2013 WL 3884168, at *1-3 (E.D. Mo. July 26, 2013) (reviewing Thompson’s “extensive post-conviction history”).

         Thompson was released on parole in 1986. Two years later, he was arrested in Minnesota and charged with several federal crimes, including bank robbery and firearms offenses. Thompson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.

         Missouri filed a detainer asking that Thompson be returned to its custody after he finished serving his federal sentence so that he could be held accountable for parole violations. See Id. at *2. In response, Thompson filed a habeas petition in this Court, claiming that the Missouri detainer was invalid because he was no longer on parole. Specifically, Thompson argued that he had served at least five years on parole,[1] and that a Missouri law-§ 558.011.4 of the Missouri Revised Statutes-required that defendants be discharged from parole after five years. Both this Court and the Eighth Circuit rejected Thompson’s argument on the ground that § 558.011.4 did not apply to crimes (such as Thompson’s murders) that were committed before 1979. See Thompson v. Mo. Bd. of Parole, 929 F.2d 396, 398-99 (8th Cir. 1991).

         Thompson served his federal sentence and then, pursuant to the detainer, he was returned to the custody of Missouri. It is unclear what happened next; presumably Missouri initiated parole-revocation proceedings. See Id. at 401 n.12 (noting that Missouri had initiated parole revocation proceedings “[b]ecause Thompson left the state of Missouri in 1987 and thereafter failed to report to his parole officer”).

         At any rate, Thompson now moves under Rule 60(d)(3) for this Court to set aside its 28-year-old ruling that the Missouri detainer was valid because, Thompson says, “the Missouri Attorney General’s Office perpetrat[ed] ‘a fraud on the Court.’” ECF No. 65 at 1.[2]

         II. ANALYSIS

         The Court does not appear to have jurisdiction over Thompson’s motion. Thompson challenges the 1989 judgment upholding the validity of the 1988 Missouri detainer. But Thompson was long ago released from federal custody and returned to Missouri pursuant to that detainer. The Court does not understand how a ruling that the 1988 Missouri detainer was invalid would have any impact on Thompson. See Thompson v. Terrell, 209 F. App’x 852, 854-55 (10th Cir. 2006). This case appears to be moot.

         That said, Thompson is proceeding pro se, and his papers are far from clear. It is possible that declaring the 1988 Missouri detainer invalid would have some impact on Thompson that is not apparent to the Court. It also appears that Thompson may be seeking relief from more than just the 1988 Missouri detainer. The Court will therefore address Thompson’s motion on the merits.

         Rule 60(d)(3) allows a court to set aside a judgment for “fraud on the court.” But “‘not all fraud is fraud on the court.’” United States v. Sierra Pac. Indus., Inc., 862 F.3d 1157, 1167 (9th Cir. 2017) (citation omitted). “In order to show fraud on the court, [the movant] must demonstrate, by clear and convincing evidence, an effort by [the other party] to prevent the judicial process from functioning ‘in the usual manner.’” United States v. Estate of Stonehill, 660 F.3d 415, 445 (9th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted). Mere nondisclosure of evidence generally is not enough to constitute fraud on the court. See Tyler v. Purkett, 413 F.3d 696, 700 n.7 (8th Cir. 2005) (“Claims that a party did not disclose to a court certain facts allegedly pertinent to the matter before it, however, do not normally constitute fraud on the court.”). Rather, “a finding of fraud on the court . . . ‘is justified only by the most egregious misconduct directed to the court itself, such as bribery of a judge or jury or fabrication of evidence by counsel.’” United States v. Smiley, 553 F.3d 1137, 1145 (8th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted).

         Thompson claims that the Missouri Attorney General’s Office (the “AG”) “deliberately perpetrated ‘a fraud on the Court’” when the AG argued that § 558.011.4 did not apply to crimes committed before 1979 and when the AG “deliberately concealed” another Missouri statute (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 557.011.1) and a “1979 Legislative Manual” that specifically ...

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