Mendes v. Brady, No. 09-2021 (1st Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Petitioner was prosecuted and convicted 13 years after the murder of his wife. The evidence suggested that the motive was to obtain control of a small inheritance for drugs and prostitutes. The highest court of Massachusetts denied his petition in accordance with the special procedure for dealing with post-conviction petitions in Section 33E cases (the provision deals with a narrow class of capital cases): a single judge acts as gatekeeper to bar access to the full court on any issue that could have been raised at the time of direct appeal, unless (as a general rule) the relief is sought on a basis that is both new (in the sense of having been unavailable at the time of direct appeal) and substantial. The federal district court denied habeas corpus on the ground that the denial of relief on collateral review by the state court rested on a procedural basis in state law (the gatekeeper’s finding of failure to raise the claim on direct appeal) that was independent of the federal right and adequate to bar further relief: the gatekeeper had acted in accordance with a state rule or practice that was "firmly established and regularly followed." The First Circuit affirmed.