University of Miami Law Review


The Eleventh Circuit vacated its panel opinion in Patterson v. Secretary and reheard the case en banc. The court’s new opinion revisits the prohibition against “second or successive” habeas corpus petitions in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b) and embraces the dissenting view in the prior opinion, rejecting the reasoning of the majority. A new state court judgment resets the habeas clock, allowing a prisoner to file an additional federal habeas petition without running afoul of section 2244(b). Previously, the court offered an expansive view of such judgments, looking to whether the state court has substantively changed the prisoner’s sentence. The court now offers a narrow view, looking only to whether the state court has authorized the prisoner’s custody. This Article describes the majority and dissenting opinions in both iterations of Patterson v. Secretary. The Article then identifies both textual and subtextual disputes among the judges, arguing that the opinions are proxies for a deep division in criminal law between finality and justice.