United States v. Hall ( 2006 )


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  •                                                        United States Court of Appeals
                                                                    Fifth Circuit
                                                                 F I L E D
                   IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
                           FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT                   June 8, 2006
    
                                                              Charles R. Fulbruge III
                                                                      Clerk
                               No. 04-20482
                             Summary Calendar
    
    
    
    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
    
                                        Plaintiff-Appellee,
    
    versus
    
    ROBERT ARTHUR HALL,
    
                                        Defendant-Appellant.
    
                           --------------------
              Appeal from the United States District Court
                   for the Southern District of Texas
                          USDC No. 4:98-CV-1565
                         USDC No. 4:95-CR-201-1
                           --------------------
    
    Before HIGGINBOTHAM, BENAVIDES, and DENNIS, Circuit Judges.
    
    PER CURIAM:*
    
         Robert Arthur Hall, federal prisoner # 38261-079, appeals
    
    the district court’s denial of his motion seeking to vacate two
    
    prior orders entered by a magistrate judge denying Hall’s 28
    
    U.S.C. § 2255 motion.   The district court concluded that it
    
    lacked jurisdiction to entertain the motion.   Hall was granted a
    
    Certificate of Appealability solely on the issue whether the
    
    district court’s procedural ruling was correct.
    
    
    
         *
           Pursuant to 5TH CIR. R. 47.5, the court has determined that
    this opinion should not be published and is not precedent except
    under the limited circumstances set forth in 5TH CIR. R. 47.5.4.
                               No. 04-20482
                                    -2-
    
         We held in United States v. Johnston, 
    258 F.3d 361
    , 366-72
    
    (5th Cir. 2001), that the consensual delegation of a
    
    § 2255 motion to a magistrate judge violates Article III.    Thus,
    
    Hall’s motion seeking to vacate the magistrate judge’s orders
    
    pursuant to Johnston effectively sought relief via FED. R. CIV. P.
    
    60(b)(4).   See Jackson v. FIE Corp., 
    302 F.3d 515
    , 522-23 (5th
    
    Cir. 2002).   A district court has no discretion to deny a Rule
    
    60(b)(4) motion if the challenged judgment was void, and there is
    
    no time limit on such a motion.     See Jackson, 302 F.3d at 324.
    
         However, we conclude that relief is not available to Hall.
    
    A district court’s erroneous exercise of subject matter
    
    jurisdiction is res judicata and is not subject to collateral
    
    attack by way of a Rule 60(b)(4) motion if the party seeking to
    
    void the judgment had the opportunity to do so on direct review
    
    of the court’s determination.     See Chicot County Dist. v. Bank,
    
    
    308 U.S. 371
    , 376 (1940); Picco v. Global Marine Drilling Co.,
    
    
    900 F.2d 846
    , 850 (5th Cir. 1990).    Hall failed to challenge the
    
    exercise of jurisdiction by appealing that issue at the time.       He
    
    may not do so now collaterally.     See Callon Petroleum Co. v.
    
    Frontier Ins. Co., 
    351 F.3d 204
    , 208 (5th Cir. 2003).
    
         Given that the jurisdictional question was not evident or
    
    settled prior to Johnston, this case does not involve a clear
    
    usurpation of power or total want of jurisdiction that would
    
    warrant Rule 60(b)(4) relief.     See id.; see also United States v.
    
    Tittjung, 
    235 F.3d 330
    , 335 (7th Cir. 2000).
                              No. 04-20482
                                   -3-
    
         Considering the foregoing, the district court’s order
    
    denying Hall’s motion is AFFIRMED.