The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) precludes the filing of “second or successive” federal habeas corpus petitions—when a petitioner files a habeas petition for the second time, it will generally be dismissed. In Magwood v Patterson, the Supreme Court held that this prohibition did not bar the filing of a technically “second” habeas petition challenging aspects of a resentencing that resulted from the partial grant of the petitioner’s prior habeas petition. Because this resentencing led to the entry of a new judgment, the Court explained, the petition was not barred by AEDPA as, while it was the petitioner’s second filing overall, it was his first petition challenging this new judgment. This Comment addresses a question explicitly reserved by the Court in Magwood: whether its holding extends to petitioners who, rather than challenging an aspect of their resentencing, challenge an aspect of their conviction or sentence that predates and remains unaltered by the resentencing and resulting new judgment. The circuit courts are split as to this issue.
Based on principles of statutory interpretation, this Comment concludes that Magwood should extend to cases in which a habeas petitioner challenges an undisturbed component of his conviction or sentence. This is first because of the principle that the statutory language of AEDPA must be interpreted the same way in all cases implicating the statute—the Supreme Court’s holding turned on its interpretation of this language, and this language applies regardless of what claims are brought in a habeas petition. As the split among the lower courts stems in part from the courts’ differing conceptions of what constitutes a new judgment, this Comment next turns to defining a judgment, concluding that the conviction and sentence comprise a single criminal judgment and each conviction and sentence does not have its own distinct judgment. Because there is only one judgment, a resentencing creates a new judgment with respect to all aspects of the case and, under Magwood, a habeas petition challenging any aspect of this new judgment is not second or successive. In addition, this extension of Magwood aligns with the purposes of AEDPA and better enables petitioners to bring meritorious challenges to the legality of their imprisonment
"Defining “Second or Successive” Habeas Petitions after Magwood,"
University of Chicago Law Review: Vol. 85:
6, Article 1.
Available at: https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/uclrev/vol85/iss6/1