United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
STEPHEN R. MATTATALL, Petitioner,
ASHBEL T. WALL, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
William E. Smith, Chief Judge.
the Court is the State of Rhode Island's Motion to
Dismiss (“Mot. to Dismiss, ” ECF No. 3) Stephen
R. Mattatall's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under
28 U.S.C. § 2241 (“Petition, ” ECF No. 1).
For the reasons stated herein, the Motion to Dismiss is
GRANTED and the Petition is DISMISSED without prejudice to
being refiled if and when Mattatall receives permission from
the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3), to do so.
1984, a jury found Mattatall guilty of second-degree murder
in Rhode Island Superior Court. He was sentenced to a term of
forty years' imprisonment, with thirty to serve and ten
suspended. An additional ten years was imposed under the
applicable habitual offender statute. Mattatall successfully
appealed the judgment to the Rhode Island Supreme Court and,
after granting the State's certiorari petition, the
United States Supreme Court vacated Mattatall's 1984
conviction and remanded the case to the Rhode Island Supreme
Court. On reconsideration, the court affirmed its prior
ruling and remanded the case for a new trial. A second trial
held in Superior Court in 1987 ended in a mistrial. In 1988,
a third jury trial resulted in a guilty verdict against
Mattatall for murder in the second degree. He was sentenced
to sixty years' imprisonment, with fifty to serve and ten
suspended, plus an additional twenty years under the habitual
appealed his 1988 judgment of conviction to the Rhode Island
Supreme Court in 1989. The appeal was denied in 1991, after
which Mattatall filed a petition for reargument. The Rhode
Island Supreme Court granted the petition for reargument. At
that time, Mattatall argued that the evidence presented at
trial was insufficient to warrant a conviction of
second-degree murder, among other issues. In a lengthy order,
the court denied Mattatall's appeal and affirmed his
judgment of conviction. The United States Supreme Court
states that he has filed a total of five post-conviction
applications in the Rhode Island state courts. Three of these
attacked his criminal convictions, and the other two
apparently challenged decisions of the Rhode Island Parole
1997, Mattatall filed his first petition for writ of habeas
corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in this Court. The
petition was denied because it was untimely filed, and, in
1999, the First Circuit denied Mattatall's motion for a
certificate of appealability. The Supreme Court denied
2016, Mattatall filed a second § 2254 petition, which
was dismissed by the Court as a second or successive
petition. The First Circuit subsequently denied permission
for Mattatall to file it in this Court.
has now filed a third Petition, which he titles
“Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C.
2241.” He alleges that he is “actually
innocent” of second-degree murder and being deemed a
habitual offender. The State has moved to dismiss the
Petition on two grounds: first, that the Petition is an
impermissible second or successive petition; and, second,
that it is time-barred. (Mot. to Dismiss 4-5.) The Court need
not address the State's argument that the Petition is
untimely, as the first ground is dispositive of the matter.
noted above, this Petition is the third Mattatall has filed
seeking relief from his 1988 conviction. See Mattatall v.
Vose, C.A. No. 97-515-ML (D.R.I. 1997); Mattatall v.
Wall, C.A. No. 16-012-WES (D.R.I. 2016). Although styled
as a § 2241 petition, in reality the Petition is
properly considered an application for a writ of habeas
corpus pursuant to § 2254.
2254(a) provides, in relevant part, that:
[A] district court shall entertain an application for a writ
of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to
the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is
in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or
treaties of the United States.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Section 2241, on the other hand, is
the proper vehicle “when the petition attacks the
execution, rather than the validity of the sentence.”
Barr v. Sabol, 686 F.Supp.2d 131, 133 (D. Mass.
2010)(citing United States v. Barrett, 178 F.3d 34,
50 (1st Cir. 1990)); see also Francis v. Maloney,
798 F.3d 33, 36 (1st Cir. 2015)(“Section 2241 . . .
establishes a mechanism for a federal inmate who is ...