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Johnson v. Pierce

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 19, 2014

ROGER L. JOHNSON, Petitioner,
v.
DAVID PIERCE, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERALOFTHE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.[1]

Roger L. Johnson. Pro se Petitioner.

Karen V. Sullivan, Deputy Attorney General of the Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for Respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GREGORY M. SLEET, Chief District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court is an Application For A Writ Of Habeas Corpus Pursuant To 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ("Petition") filed by Petitioner Roger L. Johnson ("Petitioner"). (D.I. 1) The State has filed a Motion to Dismiss the Petition as time-barred by the limitations period prescribed in 28 U.S.C. § 2244. (D.I. 14) For the reasons discussed, the Court will grant the Motion.

II. BACKGROUND

On May 25, 2000, a Delaware Superior Court jury convicted Petitioner of two counts of first degree robbery, two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and one count of second degree conspiracy. (D.I. 14 at 1) The Superior Court sentenced Petitioner as an habitual offender to a total minimum mandatory term of eighty years at Level V imprisonment. On June 18, 2002, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed Petitioner's convictions and sentence on direct appeal. See Johnson v. State, 801 A.2d 10 (Table), 2002 WL 1343761 (Del. June 18, 2002).

Represented by counsel, Petitioner filed his first motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion") on May 12, 2005. See Johnson v. State, 947 A.2d 1121 (Table), 2008 WL 1778241 (Del. Apr. 21, 2008), overruled by Allen v. State, 970 A.2d 203 (Del. 2009) (accomplice liability instruction). The Superior Court denied the Rule 61 motion on August 29, 2007, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision on April 21, 2008. Id.

Actingpro se, Petitioner filed a second Rule 61 motion on September 23, 2009. (D.I. 14 at 2) While his second Rule 61 motion was pending before the Delaware Superior Court, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of mandamus asking the Delaware Supreme Court, inter alia, to order the Superior Court to grant his second Rule 61 motion. See In re: Johnson, 11 A.3d 227 (Table), 2010 WL 5232962 (Del. Dec. 20, 2010). The Delaware Supreme Court dismissed the mandamus petition on December 20, 2010. Id. On July 27, 2011, the Superior Court denied Petitioner's second Rule 61 motion, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that judgment on January 25, 2012. See Johnson v. State, 36 A.3d 349 (Table), 2012 WL 252394, at* 1 (Del. Jan. 25, 2012).

Petitioner filed the instant § 2254 Petition in March 2012, asserting the following four grounds for relief: (1) the Superior Court violated Petitioner's due process and equal protection rights by allowing his involuntary videotaped statement to be introduced as evidence during his trial; (2) Delaware's habitual offender statue, 11 Del. Code Ann. § 4214(a), is unconstitutional because it is ambiguous, arbitrary, and capriciously applied; (3) the Delaware state courts violated his due process and equal protection rights by denying his second Rule 61 motion; and (4) trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to: (a) challenge the reasonable doubt instruction; (b) request a jury instruction on the lesser included offense of second degree robbery; and (c) request a complete instruction on accomplice liability. (D.I. 1) The State filed a Motion to Dismiss the Petition as time-barred. (D.I. 14) Petitioner filed a Reply arguing that the limitations period should be equitably tolled. (D.I. 15) The State filed a Response in opposition. (D.I. 16)

III. THE ONE YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA") was signed into law by the President on April 23, 1996. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). AEDPA prescribes a one-year period of limitations for the filing of habeas petitions by state prisoners, which begins to run from the latest of:

(A) the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such revtew;
(B) the date on which the impediment to filing an application created by State action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the applicant ...

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