United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
WILLIAM G. YOUNG DISTRICT JUDGE
Alexander Mattei (“Mattei”) is a state prisoner
at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Norfolk.
Mattei was convicted of assault with intent to rape and
assault and battery in the Massachusetts County Superior
Court sitting in and for the County of Essex on September 16,
2011. Mattei has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He asserts two claims: (1)
his rights to confrontation were violated by restrictions on
the cross-examination of a substitute DNA analyst, and (2)
the trial judge erred in restricting defense counsel's
cross-examination of a police witness. Pet. Writ Habeas
Corpus (“Pet'r's Pet.”), ECF No. 1. The
respondent, Sean Medeiros (“Medeiros”) opposes
the petition, arguing that the Massachusetts Appeals Court
decision did not unreasonably apply clearly established
federal law. Resp't's Mem. Opp'n Pet. Writ Habeas
Corpus (“Resp't's Opp'n”), ECF No.
13. For the reasons discussed infra, this Court
DENIES Mattei's request for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
20, 2002, Mattei was charged with home invasion, breaking and
entering with intent to commit a felony, assault with intent
to rape, indecent assault and battery, two counts of assault
by means of a dangerous weapon, and assault and battery.
Resp't's Further Supplemental Answer (“Supp.
Answer”) at 179, ECF No. 14. On April 2, 2004, Mattei
was convicted of six out of seven of the offenses.
Id. at 180. Mattei appealed the convictions, and in
2008, the Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the
convictions. Id. In 2010, the Supreme Judicial Court
granted further appellate review. Id. The Supreme
Judicial Court vacated the convictions and remanded the case
for a new trial on two grounds: (1) that expert testimony
ought not have been admitted without accompanying statistical
explanations, and (2) that the judge improperly limited
defense counsel's cross-examination.
Commonwealth v. Mattei, 455 Mass.
840, 862 (2010).
second jury trial in 2011, Mattei was convicted of assault
with intent to rape and assault and battery, and was
acquitted of the remaining charges. Supp. Answer at 181. On
appeal from that conviction, Mattei raised three claims: (1)
he was deprived of an opportunity to cross-examine a
substitute DNA analyst, (2) the trial judge improperly
restricted defense counsel's cross-examination of a
police witness and refused to give a
Bowden instruction, and (3) the prosecutor made
several errors in her closing argument. Commonwealth
v. Mattei, 90 Mass.App.Ct. 577, 578 (2016).
The Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the convictions on
October 27, 2016. Id. at 584. The Supreme Judicial
Court denied further appellate review on March 6, 2017.
Commonwealth v. Mattei, 476 Mass.
1112 (2017). On May 15, 2017, Mattei filed a petition under
28 U.S.C. § 2254 for writ of habeas corpus by a person
in state custody. Pet'r's Pet. 1.
argues that (1) his confrontation rights were violated when a
substitute DNA analyst was not sufficiently cross-examined,
and (2) the trial judge erred in restricting defense
counsel's cross-examination of a police witness.
Pet'r's Pet. 6-8. This Court concludes that neither
of these arguments are meritorious and DENIES Mattei's
request for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Standard of Review
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
(“AEDPA”) governs petitions for habeas corpus
seeking relief from convictions in state court. See
Hyatt v. Gelb, 142 F.Supp.3d 198, 202
(D. Mass. 2006). A district court may entertain an
application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person
in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court only on
the ground that he is in custody in violation of the
Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States. 28
U.S.C. § 2254(a). Habeas relief may be granted only if
the petitioner is able to show that the state adjudication
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved
an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal
law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States;
or (2) resulted in a decision that was based on an
unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the
evidence presented in the State court proceeding.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
court decision is contrary to clearly established federal law
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) if “the state court
confronts facts that are materially indistinguishable from a
relevant Supreme Court precedent and arrives at a result
opposite to ours.” Williams v.
Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 405 (2000). In addition, a
state court decision may be an unreasonable application of
federal law if it identifies the applicable governing legal
rule, “but unreasonably applies it to the facts of the
particular state prisoner's case.” Id. at
court decisions are given substantial deference; the
incorrectness of a state court decision does not alone
warrant relief for a petitioner. Instead, relief may be
granted only if the state court decision in question features
“‘some increment of incorrectness beyond
error' that is ‘great enough to make the decision
unreasonable in the independent objective judgment of the
federal court.'” Evansv.Thompson, 465 F.Supp.2d 62, 67 (D. Mass. 2006)
(quoting Norton v. Spencer, 351 F.3d 1, 8 (1st Cir.
2003)), aff'd, 518 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2008). Put
simply, if a ...