Thursday, September 08, 2005
Pro se litigant's fourth collateral motion not considered "second or successive"
In In Re Wagner, No. 03-4254 (3d Cir. Sept. 6, 2005), the Third Circuit ruled that a pro se petitioner's fourth collateral motion could not be classified as a "second or successive" petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 which would require permission of the Court for filing. The Court reasoned that petitioner's first three motions did not constitute § 2255 petitions because petitioner's first collateral motion never invoked § 2255, his second motion was recharacterized as a § 2255 without notice and an opportunity to amend or withdraw, and his third motion was denied as a second or successive petition without reaching the merits. Accordingly, the Court concluded that it was bound to construe petitioner's fourth motion as his first motion for relief under § 2255 and no permission to file the petition was required.