County Superior Court, NM 09-249, Melanie Wilk Thunberg,
Applicant: David D. Prior, Esq.
State of Rhode Island: Aaron L. Weisman Department of
Present: Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.
William P. Robinson Associate Justice.
applicant, Jeremy Motyka, appeals from the December 3, 2014
denial of his application for postconviction relief following
a hearing in Newport County Superior Court. This case came
before the Supreme Court pursuant to an order directing the
parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised in
this appeal should not be summarily decided. After a close
review of the record and careful consideration of the
parties' arguments (both written and oral), we are
satisfied that cause has not been shown and that this appeal
may be decided at this time.
reasons set forth in this opinion, we vacate the judgment of
the Superior Court.
2001, Mr. Motyka was convicted following a jury trial of
first-degree murder and first-degree sexual assault. He was
sentenced to life without the possibility of parole on the
first-degree murder charge and life on the first-degree
sexual assault charge. This Court affirmed Mr. Motyka's
conviction in State v. Motyka, 893 A.2d 267, 291
(R.I. 2006) (Motyka I). We refer the interested
reader to our previous opinion for a detailed recitation of
the facts. We will restrict ourselves to a discussion of only
those facts which are pertinent to the instant case.
11, 2009, Mr. Motyka filed an application for postconviction
relief. That application was denied, and he appealed that
denial to this Court. In Motyka v. State, 91 A.3d
351, 351-52 (R.I. 2014) (mem.) (Motyka II), we
vacated the denial of Mr. Motyka's application for
postconviction relief following the concession by the state
that the hearing justice had failed to follow the procedure
set forth by this Court in Shatney v. State, 755
A.2d 130 (R.I. 2000). We remanded the case to the Superior
Court to conduct further proceedings. Motyka II, 91
A.3d at 352.
remand, Mr. Motyka filed a document entitled
"Plaintiff's Second Amended Application for
Post-conviction Relief." On October 8, 2014, Mr.
Motyka's court-appointed counsel filed both a motion to
withdraw his appearance and a memorandum in support of that
motion, the grounds for which were counsel's determining
"the issues raised in plaintiff's Petition for
Post-Conviction Relief to be wholly frivolous, and not
supported by existing law, or by a good faith basis for
reversal, extension, or modification of existing law * *
*." The state filed a motion to dismiss Mr. Motyka's
application on October 10, 2014, averring that "no
genuine issue of material fact exist[ed] and the State [was]
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." The docket
reflects the fact that, thereafter, Mr. Motyka filed a
response to his court-appointed counsel's motion to
withdraw. A hearing was subsequently held on December 3,
2014. At the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing justice
granted court-appointed counsel's motion to withdraw and
also denied and dismissed Mr. Motyka's application for
postconviction relief. A final judgment entered on February
17, 2016. Mr. Motyka had filed a notice of appeal on December