Submitted: March 14, 2018
Appeals from United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Missouri - St. Louis
WOLLMAN, SHEPHERD, and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges.
SHEPHERD, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
2011, Appellant Michael Holmes's 2006 sentence for drug
and firearm possession was vacated following investigations
into former St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officers Shell
Sharp and Bobby Garrett, who were found to have engaged in
illegal activity while employed at the St. Louis Metropolitan
Police Department. After his sentence was vacated, Holmes
sought a certificate of innocence, which the district
court denied. He subsequently filed a
Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) motion for relief from the district
court's judgment, which the court also denied. Holmes
appeals, arguing that the district court abused its
discretion when it found he was not actually innocent of the
crimes for which he was charged and when it denied his Rule
60(b) motion. We disagree and affirm.
December 2003, Sharp, Garrett, and Officer Alan Ray arrested
Holmes in a residence located at 5894 Cates Avenue (the
"Cates Residence") and searched
the home. During the search, officers found mail addressed to
Holmes at the Cates Residence in addition to cash, drugs,
drug paraphernalia, and a gun. In 2006, a jury found Holmes
guilty of possessing more than 50 grams of cocaine base with
intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. §
841(a)(1) and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug
trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).
Sharp was the only witness who testified at Holmes's
trial about the events leading up to Holmes's arrest. Ray
was unavailable to testify because he was deployed with the
2009, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department began
investigating allegations that Sharp had given perjured
testimony and falsified affidavits in many of his cases. As a
result, the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's office dropped
the charges in criminal cases in which Sharp had been
involved. Additionally, the same year, Garrett pled guilty to
several federal crimes stemming from illegal activities he
engaged in as a police officer. Following these
investigations, the government no longer vouched for the
testimony of the two officers.
2011, Holmes filed a motion to vacate, correct, or set aside
his 2006 sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Based on
Sharp and Garrett's history of perjury and falsifying
evidence, the district court granted Holmes's motion to
vacate, concluding the remaining evidence absent Sharp's
testimony was insufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable
doubt. In 2012, Holmes moved for a certificate of innocence
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1495, 2513.
response to Holmes's motion for a certificate of
innocence, the Government submitted a declaration that Ray
gave in 2011 recalling the events on the night of
Holmes's arrest. Ray stated that he and Sharp: surveilled
Holmes at the Cates Residence and watched him conduct what
they believed to be drug transactions; saw Holmes drop a
paper bag containing crack and run up the stairs to the third
floor of the Cates Residence; and discovered mail addressed
to Holmes, cash, drugs, drug paraphernalia, and a gun in the
upstairs bedroom. He also stated that Holmes admitted to
living at the Cates Residence and that the bedroom where they
arrested him was his.
testified that he was innocent and offered documentary
evidence that he resided at a different location and photo
evidence of the staircases in the Cates Residence in an
attempt to prove that Ray's declaration was false. The
district court credited Ray's declaration and
accompanying evidence and denied Holmes's motion for a
certificate of innocence.
the certificate of innocence proceedings were pending in the
district court, Holmes, in a separate case, filed 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 claims against Sharp and Garrett, but not Ray.
Following the district court's denial of a certificate of
innocence, Holmes received a favorable verdict against Sharp
and Garrett on his § 1983 claims. Based on this verdict,
Holmes filed a Rule 60(b) motion for relief from the
court's judgment on the certificate of innocence, arguing
that the verdict was new evidence establishing his actual
innocence. The district court denied the motion, finding that
the jury verdict was not new evidence. Holmes appeals.
identifies two issues on appeal. First, he challenges the
district court's ruling on his certificate of innocence
motion, asserting that the district court erred when it found
he did not prove actual innocence. Second, he claims that the
district court erred when it denied his Rule 60(b) motion for
relief from its judgment on his certificate of innocence
request because the ...