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Mattis v. Vaughn

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

June 5, 2018

TREVOR MATTIS, Petitioner,
v.
DONALD T. VAUGHN, THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF THE COUNTY OF PHILA., and THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF PA.,, Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM

          DuBois, J.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This is a Request for Certificate of Appealability (“Request”) filed by pro se petitioner Trevor Mattis with respect to this Court's Order dated March 12, 2018, denying pro se petitioner's Rule 60(b) Motion (“Motion”). In his Request, pro se petitioner contends that this Court failed to address arguments raised in supplemental briefing in support of his Motion. Because reasonable jurists would not debate the merits of denying pro se petitioner's Motion, his Request for Certificate of Appealability is denied.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Pro se petitioner was convicted on July 20, 1990, in Pennsylvania state court for first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. After pursuing a challenge to his conviction in state court pursuant to Pennsylvania's Post Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”), pro se petitioner filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in this Court on December 22, 1999, contending, inter alia, that the prosecution had withheld exculpatory evidence at trial in violation of its obligations under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). In denying and dismissing that Petition by Order dated January 17, 2001, the Court concluded, inter alia, that pro se petitioner's Brady claim was procedurally defaulted by appellate counsel's failure to file a petition for allowance of appeal in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Mattis v. Vaughn, 128 F.Supp.2d 249, 263-64 (E.D. Pa. 2001). Pro se petitioner appealed that ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which affirmed the judgment of this Court by Order dated October 21, 2003. Mattis v. Vaughn, 80 Fed.Appx. 154 (3d Cir. 2003).

         On August 23, 2016, pro se petitioner filed an Application for Leave to File Second or Successive Petition Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b) (“Application”) in the Third Circuit, contending he was entitled to file a second or successive petition in light of new evidence of his actual innocence. Appl. at 19-20, 24, In re Trevor Mattis, No. 16-3434 (3d Cir. Aug. 23, 2016). By Order dated November 17, 2016, the Third Circuit denied pro se petitioner's Application, concluding that he had provided insufficient evidence of his actual innocence. Order, Mattis v. Vaughn, No. 99-6533 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 17, 2016), Doc. No. 39.

         On December 27, 2016, pro se petitioner filed a Rule 60(b) Motion in this Court, setting forth the same claim of actual innocence, based on the same evidence presented to the Third Circuit. Motion, Mattis, No. 99-6533 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 27, 2016), Doc. No. 40. Over the next fifteen months, pro se petitioner filed at least eleven additional documents in support of his Motion, variously labeled as exhibits, memoranda, supplements, and addenda (“supplemental briefing”). By Order dated March 12, 2018, this Court denied pro se petitioner's Motion on the same ground on which the Third Circuit denied his Application under § 2244: “pro se petitioner has not satisfied his burden of proving that he is actually innocent.” Order at 3, Mattis, No. 99-6533 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 12, 2018), Doc. No. 56.

         On March 26, 2018, pro se petitioner filed the Request for Certificate of Appealability currently pending before this Court, contending that this Court failed to consider the following arguments set forth in his supplemental briefing[1]:

1. that the “layered ineffective assistance of Trial, Direct appeal, and Appellate counsel” excuses the default of the Brady claim in his original habeas petition, pursuant to Martinez v Ryan, 566 U.S. 1, 9 (2012). Doc. No. 57 at 1, 3; see also Doc. No. 49 at 1; Doc No. 50 at 1-2; Doc. No. 51 at 4, 6.
1b. that appellate counsel's failure to file a petition for allowance of appeal in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court amounts to abandonment by counsel and constitutes “cause” under Martinez to excuse the default of his Brady claim. Doc. No. 57 at 4.
2. that the prosecution's “Brady/perjured testimony violation” constitutes cause to excuse an unspecified procedural default under Martinez. Doc. No. 57 at 6.
2b. that he is entitled to relief for the prosecution's Brady violations pursuant to the Third Circuit's decision in Haskell v. Superintendent, 866 F.3d 139 (3d Cir. 2017). E.g., Doc. No. 53 at 1; Doc. No. 57 at 3.

         Pro se petitioner contends in his Request that the Court should issue a certificate of appealability on these arguments. The Request is ripe for decision.

         III. ...


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