Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mattern: Habeas Claim not Moot re: prior conviction

In Mattern v. Sec. Dep’t of Corrections, No. 05-15161 (Aug. 7, 2007), the Court reversed the denial of a habeas petition by a state inmate.
After being convicted for aggravated battery, and being sentenced to probation, Mattern’s probation was revoked. At his probation revocation hearing he argued, correctly, that his prior conviction should have been for simple battery, not aggravated battery. This argument failed, and, after exhausting his state post-conviction remedies, he brought this claim in a federal habeas proceeding. By then, he had been released from incarceration – but arrested on another battery charge, for which the prior aggravating battery conviction would increase his potential sentence. The district court dismissed the petition on mootness grounds.
Reversing, the Court noted that because Mattern had been arrested at the time he brought his federal habeas claim, and the prior conviction was used to enhance his punishment for this latest crime, his challenge to this conviction was not moot.
The Court noted the remaining question of whether Mattern had exercised due diligence in timely asserting his challenge to the prior aggravated battery conviction, and remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing on this issue.