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United States v. Siegel

United States District Court, D. Nevada

January 13, 2020

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiffs,
v.
SUSAN SIEGEL, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

         Presently before the court is the United States of America's (“the government”) limited motion to reconsider. (ECF No. 464). Defendant Susan Siegel (“defendant”) filed a response (ECF No. 466), to which the government replied (ECF No. 467).

         I. Background

         Defendant was sentenced to three years of probation on April 29, 2019. (ECF Nos. 441, 444). Defendant was ordered to pay a $116, 021.25 in person criminal forfeiture and $1, 124, 652.00 in restitution. (ECF Nos. 442, 444). Probation has instructed defendant to make monthly restitution payments equal to ten percent (10%) of her monthly income, which results in payments of roughly $260 per month. (ECF No. 456 at 3).

         Defendant moved this court to modify the conditions of her probation and allow her to borrow approximately $104, 000 against her home in order to pay the majority of the criminal forfeiture. Id. Defendant represented that her significant other would assist with making payments on the loan. Id. Defendant also requested that her monthly restitution payments be reduced to $50 in light of the monthly payments on her proposed loan and modest financial means. Id.

         The government did not respond or otherwise oppose defendant's motion. The government now represents that it “inadvertently failed to respond to [defendant's] underlying motion because the Financial Litigation Unit of the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Nevada . . . did not receive a copy of the motion before the response deadline.” (ECF No. 467 at 1). The government now moves this court to reconsider its order “only to the extent that it permits [d]efendant . . . to pay $104, 000 toward her criminal forfeiture money judgment instead of her significant restitution order.” (ECF No. 464 at 1).

         II. Legal Standard

         Although Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure do not expressly authorize the filing of motions for reconsideration, a “postjudgment motion for reconsideration may be filed in a criminal case and governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e).” United States v. Martin, 226 F.3d 1042, 1047 n.7 (9th Cir. 2000); see also United States v. Fiorelli, 337 F.3d 282, 288 (3d Cir. 2003) (“As noted by the Second and Ninth Circuits, motions for reconsideration may be filed in criminal cases.”).

         A motion for reconsideration “should not be granted, absent highly unusual circumstances.” Marlyn Nutraceuticals, Inc. v. Mucos Pharma GmbH & Co., 571 F.3d 873, 880 (9th Cir. 2009). “Reconsideration is appropriate if the district court (1) is presented with newly discovered evidence, (2) committed clear error or the initial decision was manifestly unjust, or (3) if there is an intervening change in controlling law.” School Dist. No. 1J v. ACandS, Inc., 5 F.3d 1255, 1263 (9th Cir. 1993); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b).

         Rule 59 “permits a district court to reconsider and amend a previous order.” Carroll v. Nakatani, 342 F.3d 934, 945 (9th Cir. 2003) (internal quotations omitted). However “the rule offers an extraordinary remedy, to be used sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of judicial resources.” Id. A motion for reconsideration is also an improper vehicle “to raise arguments or present evidence for the first time when they could reasonably have been raised earlier in litigation.” Marlyn Nutraceuticals, 571 F.3d at 880.

         III. Discussion

         As an initial matter, the court notes that the government's “statutory obligation” to “use its best efforts to ensure [defendant's] victims' ‘right to full and timely restitution' is met” would have been better achieved by filing a response to defendant's motion in the first instance. (ECF No. 467 at 5). The government should have moved for an extension of time upon receiving a copy of the motion. The government did not. Nonetheless, the court finds good cause to reconsider its prior order in light of the legal authority in the instant motion.

         Any money received from a defendant shall be disbursed so that each of the following obligations is paid in full in the following sequence:

(1) A penalty assessment under section 3013 of title 18, ...

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