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Motyka v. State

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

December 5, 2017

Jeremy Motyka
v.
State of Rhode Island.

         Newport County Superior Court, NM 09-249, Melanie Wilk Thunberg, Associate Justice

          For Applicant: David D. Prior, Esq.

          For State of Rhode Island: Aaron L. Weisman Department of Attorney General.

          Present: Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.

          OPINION

          William P. Robinson Associate Justice.

         The 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.

         For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we vacate the judgment of the Superior Court.

         I

         Facts and Travel

         In 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.

         On May 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.

         On remand, Mr. Motyka filed a document entitled "Plaintiff's Second Amended Application for Post-conviction Relief."[1] 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 3, 2014.[2]

         II

         Issues ...


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