United States District Court, D. Maryland
J. MESSITTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
October 14, 2014, the Court received a self-represented 28
U.S.C. § 2254 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus relief,
dated October 6, 2014, raising a direct attack on Johnathan
Matthews' convictions in the Circuit Court for Charles
County, Maryland. Matthews raised the following claims: (1)
his sentence of life without the possibility of parole
imposed while he was a juvenile violates the Eighth
Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual
punishment;(2) he was not present when the jurors sent
several notes to the court during jury deliberations;(3)
counsel provided ineffective assistance; and (4) the
cumulative effect of trial, post-conviction and appellate
counsels' errors established ineffective assistance. ECF
No. 1-1. On December 4, 2014, Respondents provided a
court-ordered response, arguing that the Petition should be
dismissed as successive. ECF No. 3. Matthews filed a
self-represented Reply. ECF No. 4.
January 5, 2015, counsel entered an appearance on behalf of
Matthews. Soon after the Court began to receive, and grant,
counsel's Motions for Extension of Time to file a
supplement to Matthews' self-represented Reply. The
majority of the requests were filed with the consent of
Respondents. See ECF Nos. 8-15 & 17-24. The
extensions covered a two-year period from March of 2015.
most recent consent Motion for Extension of Time was granted
to September 14, 2017. Counsel did not file a Supplemental
Reply, nor did he seek further extensions. On December 15,
2017, counsel was directed to show cause why the Petition for
habeas corpus should not be ruled upon as currently pleaded
and was cautioned that the Court would rule on the Petition
and current briefing if no response was received. ECF No. 25.
To date, no response has been filed by counsel.
and Procedural History
26, 1994, Matthews was convicted of murder, robbery with a
deadly weapon, and related charges in the Circuit Court for
Charles County. He had just turned seventeen. Matthews'
direct appeal concluded in 1995. See Matthews v.
Corcoran, et al., Civil Action No. PJM-99-23 (D. Md.) at
Paper No. 1. On March 3, 1997, he filed a state
post-conviction petition, which was concluded on October 15,
filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenge to his 1994
conviction in this court on December 27, 1998. Id.
That Petition was denied as time-barred on February 25, 2000.
Matthews did not appeal that decision and does not refute the
fact that he submitted this earlier filing.
may only file a second or successive habeas corpus petition
if he has first moved the appropriate circuit court for an
order authorizing the district court to consider his
application. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3);
Felker v. Turpin, 83 F.3d 1303, 1305-07 (11th Cir.
1996). Matthews' first § 2254 application was
dismissed on the merits. See In re: Rains, 659 F.3d
1274 (10th Cir. 2011); McNabb v. Yates, 576 F.3d
1028, 1030 (9th Cir. 2009); Villanueva v. United
States, 346 F.3d 55, 61 (2d Cir. 2003) (petition that is
properly dismissed as time-barred constitutes an adjudication
on the merits for successiveness purposes). The Petition is
successive and this Court may not consider it until the
Fourth Circuit enters an order authorizing this court to do
See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(A); see also In
re Vial, 115 F.3d 1192, 1197-98 (4th Cir. 1997). Because
it does not appear that Matthews has complied with this
"gatekeeper" provision, the pending application for
habeas corpus relief must be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has set
forth instructions for the filing of a "motion" to
obtain the aforementioned authorization Order. The procedural
requirements and deadlines for filing the "motion"
are extensive. Consequently, this Court has attached hereto a
packet of instructions promulgated by the Fourth Circuit
which addresses the comprehensive procedure to be followed
should Matthews wish to seek authorization to file a
successive petition. It is to be emphasized that Matthews
must file the "motion" with the Fourth Circuit and
obtain authorization to file his successive petition before
this court may examine his claims.
as here, a district court dismisses a habeas petition solely
on procedural grounds, a certificate of appealability
(“COA”) will not issue unless the petitioner can
demonstrate both “(1) ‘that jurists of reason
would find it debatable whether the petition states a valid
claim of the denial of a constitutional right' and (2)
‘that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether
the district court was correct in its procedural
ruling.'” Rouse v. Lee, 252 F.3d 676, 684
(4th Cir. 2001) (quoting Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S.
473, 484 (2000)). A litigant seeking a COA must demonstrate
that a procedural ruling barring relief is itself debatable
among jurists of reason; otherwise, the appeal would not
“deserve encouragement to proceed further.”
Buck v. Davis, 137 S.Ct. 759, 777 (2017). Denial of
a COA does not preclude a petitioner from ...