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Jenkins v. Morgan

United States District Court, Third Circuit

January 30, 2014

DAVID JENKINS, Petitioner,
PHIL MORGAN, Warden, and JOSEPH R, BIDEN, III, Attorney General of the State of Delaware, Respondents.

David Jenkins. Pro se petitioner.

Elizabeth R. McFarlan. Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for respondents.


ROBINSON, District Judge.


Petitioner David Jenkins ("petitioner") is a Delaware inmate in custody at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington, Delaware. Presently before the court is petitioner's application for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (D.I. 1) For the reasons that follow, the court will dismiss his application.


In April 2001, petitioner was indicted on two counts of trafficking in cocaine, two counts of possession with intent to deliver a narcotic schedule II controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance within 1000 feet of a school, use of a vehicle for keeping controlled substances, use of a dwelling for keeping controlled substances, and possession of drug paraphernalia. (D.I. 12 at 1) On November 26, 2001, petitioner pled guilty to one count each of trafficking in cocaine and maintaining a vehicle for the keeping of controlled substances. He was sentenced as follows: (1) for trafficking, ten years of Level V incarceration, suspended after four years for the balance at Level III probation; and (2) for maintaining a vehicle, three years at Level V incarceration, suspended immediately for three years of probation. Petitioner moved to modify his sentence, which was denied. Id.

Petitioner violated his probation in 2005 and 2009. See Jenkins v. State, 8 A.3d 1147, 1149-50 (Del. 2010).

In January 2010, petitioner was arrested for committing four new drug charges: (1) trafficking in cocaine; (2) possession with intent to distribute cocaine; (3) maintaining a dwelling for keeping controlled substances; and (4) possession of drug paraphernalia. See Jenkins, 8 A.3d at 1150. The State filed an administrative warrant listing those four charges along with a technical violation as grounds for finding petitioner in violation of his probation. Petitioner contested the warrant during a fast track violation of probation ("VOP") hearing on February 3, 2010, and a contested VOP hearing was scheduled for March 3, 3010. Petitioner's counsel requested a continuance to have additional time to review discovery. The Superior Court granted the continuance, and rescheduled the contested VOP hearing to April 14, 2010. On March 29, 2010, petitioner filed a suppression motion in the co-pending criminal case, but he did not file a suppression motion in his VOP case. Id.

The VOP hearing occurred on April 14, 2010. Id. During the hearing, the judge heard testimony from petitioner's probation officer, Officer Jeffrey Boykin, and from Corporal Dewey Stout, a detective with Delaware State Police drug unit. Officer Boykin testified about petitioner's technical violation of failing to report a change in address within seventy-two hours, explaining that petitioner reported his address as 1000 Wright Street in Wilmington (the "Wright Street" residence) but was actually living at 917 Barrett Lane in Newark (the "Barrett Lane" residence). With respect to this same technical violation, Corporal Stout testified that, during his surveillance of petitioner for drug activity, he never saw petitioner at the Wright Street residence, but observed him at the Barrett Lane residence on multiple occasions. Corporal Stout also conducted spot checks of petitioner's Wright Street residence, but never saw petitioner there. At one point Corporal Stout followed petitioner to the Barrett Lane address. The police conducted additional surveillance of the Barrett Lane address, and observed petitioner at the residence and exiting from the residence. When Corporal Stout arrested petitioner, he found a key to the Barrett Lane residence, which he used to enter the Barrett Lane residence. During his search of that residence, Corporal Stout found a lease agreement for Barrett Lane which listed petitioner as the only lessee. Id. at 1150-51.

With respect to petitioner's new drug charges, Corporal Stout testified that a confidential source ("CS") informed him that petitioner was selling cocaine. Id. at 1151. Based on that information, Corporal Stout conducted two "controlled buys" by the CS from petitioner. The substance the CS turned over from the first controlled buy field-tested positive for cocaine. After the second controlled buy, Corporal Stout met with the CS, who again turned over "an amount of cocaine." Id. With the evidence from the two controlled buys, Corporal Stout obtained a warrant to search the Barrett Lane residence. During his search, Corporal Stout found the aforementioned lease agreement bearing petitioner's name; 34.1 grams of powder cocaine, separated into three bags; a small digital scale; a cocaine press; a bottle of inositol (a common additive to powder cocaine); and $2, 715 in cash. Id.

At the end of the April 14, 2010 VOP hearing, the Superior Court determined there was "ample evidence to find the defendant guilty of violating his probation by delivering controlled substances by trafficking, " and reimposed all of the suspended jail time from petitioner's 2001 convictions for trafficking and maintaining a vehicle. Id. at 1151. On June 7, 2010, the Superior Court granted the suppression motion petitioner had filed in the co-pending criminal case and dismissed all of the charges in that case. Id.

Petitioner appealed his revocation of probation, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court's decision on December 6, 2010. See Jenkins, 8 A.3d 1147.

Petitioner timely filed a § 2254 application in this court. (D.I. 1) The State filed an answer (D.I. 12), arguing that all of the claims asserted therein fail to warrant relief under § 2254(d).


If a state's highest court adjudicated a federal habeas claim on the merits, the federal court must review the claim under the deferential standard contained in 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), federal habeas relief may only be granted if the state court's decision was "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, " or the state court's decision was an unreasonable determination of the facts based on the evidence adduced in the trial. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) & (2); see also Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000); Appel v. Horn, 250 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2001).

A claim has been "adjudicated on the merits" for the purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) if the state court decision finally resolves the claim on the basis of its substance, rather than on a procedural or some other ground. Thomas v. Horn, 570 F.3d 105, 115 (3d Cir. 2009). The deferential standard of § 2254(d) applies even "when a state court's order is unaccompanied by an opinion explaining the reasons relief has been denied"; as recently explained by the Supreme Court, "it may be presumed that the state court adjudicated the claim on the merits in the absence of any indication or state-law procedural principles to the contrary." Harrington v, Richter, ___U.S.__, 131 S.Ct. 770, 784-85(2011).

Finally, when reviewing a habeas claim, a federal court must presume that the state court's determinations of factual issues are correct. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). This presumption of correctness applies to both explicit and implicit findings of fact, and is only rebutted by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Campbell v. Vaughn, 209 F.3d 280, 286 (3d Cir. 2000); Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 341 (2003)(stating that the clear and convincing standard in ยง ...

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