United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
Stephen Roy Mattatall, Petitioner, Pro Se.
T. Wall, Respondent, represented by Aaron L. Weisman,
Attorney General's Office.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
WILLIAM E. SMITH, Chief District Judge.
the Court is Petitioner Stephen Roy Mattatall's second or
successive petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254. (ECF No. 1.) Mattatall failed to obtain a certificate
of appealability from the Court of Appeals authorizing the
district court to review his second § 2254 petition as
required by 28 U.S.C. § 2244. As a result, and as detailed
below, the motion is DENIED.
November 1984, Petitioner was found guilty of murder in the
second degree and was sentenced to a term of forty years
imprisonment, with an additional ten years imposed under the
applicable habitual offender statute. See State v.
Mattatall, 603 A.2d 1098, 1101 (R.I. 1992). Petitioner
successfully appealed his conviction in the Rhode Island
Supreme Court and, after granting the State's certiorari
petition, the United States Supreme Court agreed that
Petitioner's 1984 conviction should be vacated.
Id . A second trial held in Superior Court in 1987
ended in a mistrial after Petitioner was twice held in
contempt of court by the presiding judge for his disruptive
behavior. Id. at 1102. In 1988, a third trial
resulted in a second guilty verdict against Petitioner for
murder in the second degree. Id. at 1104. He was
sentenced to sixty years imprisonment, plus an additional
twenty years under the habitual offender statute.
Id. at 1105.
first appealed his 1988 sentence to the Rhode Island Supreme
Court in 1989. (ECF No. 1-2.) That appeal was denied in 1991,
after which Petitioner filed a petition for reargument.
Id . The Rhode Island Supreme Court granted this
petition. See generally Mattatall, 603 A.2d 1098. At
that time, Petitioner argued that the evidence presented at
trial was insufficient to warrant a conviction of
second-degree murder. Id. at 1105. In a lengthy
order, the court denied his appeal and the United States
Supreme Court denied certiorari. Id. at 1101; ECF
1997, Petitioner filed his first petition for Writ of Habeas
Corpus in this Court. (ECF No. 1-3.) That petition was denied
because it was untimely filed and, in 1999, Petitioner's
motion for a certificate of appealability with the First
Circuit was also denied. (ECF No. 1-3; Mandate of USCA, ECF
No. 49 in Mattatall v. Vose, CA No. 97-515 (D.R.I. Nov. 1,
1999).) The Supreme Court denied review. Id .
Additionally, Petitioner has filed at least three
applications for post-conviction relief with the Rhode Island
Supreme Court - in 1992, 2001, and 2013. See Mattatall v.
State, 126 A.3d 480 (R.I. 2015). These applications have
each been denied. Id.
has now filed his second Writ of Habeas Corpus with this
Court, asserting a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel
at his 1988 trial. (ECF No. 1.) He alleges that because his
attorney failed to object to the language of the manslaughter
instruction charged to the jury, Petitioner was erroneously
found guilty of second-degree murder. Id.
petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus is the second Petitioner
has filed for relief from his 1988 conviction. Due to this,
28 U.S.C. § 2244, which outlines the procedural steps a
movant must take to file a second habeas petition, applies so
long as the first petition was decided on the merits. See
Pratt v. United States, 129 F.3d 54, 60 (1st Cir.
1997). The dismissal of an initial petition as time-barred
qualifies as an adjudication on the merits when considering a
successive habeas petition. See Cook v. Ryan, No. CIV.A.
12-11840-RWZ, 2012 WL 5064492, at *2 (D. Mass. Oct. 15, 2012)
(collecting cases); see also Pierce v. Wall, C.A. No. 08-72
S, 2008 WL 896148, at *1 (D.R.I. Apr. 2, 2008). Since
Petitioner's 1997 petition was dismissed as time-barred,
28 U.S.C. § 2244 applies here.
pertinent part, § 2244(b)(3)(A) requires that "[b]efore
a second or successive application permitted by this section
is filed in the district court, the applicant shall move in
the appropriate court of appeals for an order authorizing the
district court to consider the application." This
provision "[strips] the district court of jurisdiction
over a second or successive habeas petition unless and until
the court of appeals has decreed that it may go
forward." Pratt, 129 F.3d at 57; see also
Burton v. Stewart, 549 U.S. 147, 152-53 (2007);
Libby v. Magnusson, 177 F.3d 43, 46 (1st Cir. 1999).
record does not reflect nor does Petitioner assert that he
has petitioned the Court of Appeals for a certificate of
appealability on this second habeas petition, which he
alleges provides new grounds for relief not available to him
when he presented his first federal habeas petition. As such,
Petitioner's motion must be dismissed ...