Third Circuit Articulates Its Definition of Fraud upon the Court
The Third Circuit in Herring v. U.S., 424 F.3d 384 (3d Cir. Sep. 22, 2005) for the first time announed its standards for assessing fraud upon the court claims:
Actions for fraud upon the court are so rare that this Court has not previously had the occasion to articulate a legal definition of the concept. The concept of fraud upon the court challenges the very principle upon which our judicial system is based: the finality of a judgment. The presumption against the reopening of a case that has gone through the appellate process all the way to the United States Supreme Court and reached final judgment must be not just a high hurdle to climb but a steep cliff-face to scale.
In order to meet the necessarily demanding standard for proof of fraud upon the court we conclude that there must be: (1) an intentional fraud; (2) by an officer of the court; (3) which is directed at the court itself; and (4) in fact deceives the court. We further conclude that a determination of fraud on the court may be justified only by "the most egregious misconduct directed to the court itself," and that it "must be supported by clear, unequivocal and convincing evidence." In re Coordinated Pretrial Proceedings in Antibiotic Antitrust Actions, 538 F.2d 180, 195 (8th Cir.1976) (citations omitted).