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Clifton v. Britton

United States District Court, D. Delaware

July 22, 2015

DEREK A. CLIFTON, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT BRITTON, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.

Derek Clifton. Prose petitioner.

Regory E. Smith. Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

SUE L. ROBINSON, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Presently before the court is petitioner Derek A. Clifton's ("petitioner") application for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging his Delaware Superior Court convictions and Delaware sentence. (D. I. 1) Petitioner is a Pennsylvania inmate in custody at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Coal Township in Coal Township, Pennsylvania.[1] For the reasons that follow, the court will dismiss his application.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On July 23, 2007, petitioner, Anthony Watson, and Antonio Cropper cut a screen and entered a home located at 715 West 28th Street in Wilmington, Delaware. (D.I. 8 at 1) Once inside, they confronted the elderly bed-ridden resident, Mary Nicholas. Watson removed an oxygen tube from a machine Nicholas used to assist her breathing, and took a phone from her hands to prevent her from calling for help. Id. Before leaving, petitioner let the family dog out on the porch while he, Watson, and Cropper searched the home and stole jewelry and money. (D.I. 8 at 2)

On July 25, 2007, petitioner and Watson cut their way through a screen door at a home located at 2702 North Harrison Street in Wilmington, Delaware. (D.I. 8 at 2) When petitioner and Watson encountered the resident of the home, Joanne Spurlock, Watson displayed a knife and demanded money. Spurlock stated that she did not have any money. Petitioner took the knife from Watson while Watson searched the second floor of the home. Spurlock then fled the home from the back door of the home and contacted the police. Id.

In October 2007, petitioner was indicted in Case No. 0709007071 for first degree robbery; possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony; second degree burglary; second degree conspiracy; and criminal mischief. (D.I. 8 at 2; D.I. 9-5 at 3) In March 2008, petitioner was indicted in Case No. 0802034693 on charges of third degree burglary; second degree burglary; two counts of second degree conspiracy; two counts of theft less than $1, 000; two counts of criminal mischief less than $1, 000; and receiving stolen property. (D. I. 9-5 at 3)

During this same time period, petitioner was charged in two separate cases in the State of Pennsylvania. (D.I. 8 at 2) On February 25, 2008, petitioner pied guilty in one of his Pennsylvania cases to receiving stolen property, resulting in a sentence of 215 days to 23 months. Id.; (D.I. 9-11) On May 12, 2008, petitioner pied guilty in the other Pennsylvania case to robbery and inflicting serious bodily injury, resulting in a sentence of 48 to 96 months. (D.I. 8 at 3; D.I. 9-12).

Two warrants for petitioner's arrest were issued under Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 9 while he was incarcerated in Pennsylvania. (D.I. 8 at 3) On May 23, 2011, petitioner was extradited to Delaware under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers ("IAD") (codified in Delaware at 11 Del. Code§ 2542 et seq.). He was arraigned on June 28, 2011, which was also the day on which the two Rule 9 warrants were returned. On August 15, 2011, during his final case review in the Delaware Superior Court, petitioner pied guilty to second degree burglary, third degree burglary, and second degree robbery (the latter two were lesser-included offenses). He was immediately sentenced to a total non-suspended sentence for one and one-half years in prison. Id. On October 13, 2011, the Superior Court modified the effective date of the sentence so that petitioner did not receive credit against both his Delaware and Pennsylvania sentences for the same period of time. Petitioner did not appeal his convictions and sentences. Id.

In January 2012, petitioner filed his first motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion"), asserting three grounds for relief: (1) defense counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to thoroughly investigate his case and discover that the gap of time from his indictment to sentencing violated due process; (2) his right to a speedy trial was violated; and (3) his right to due process was violated by the three and one-half year delay between indictment and arraignment, and by the failure to set bail. (D.I. 8 at 3; D.I. 9-5 at 3-4) The Delaware Superior Court summarily dismissed all three claims as waived by petitioner's voluntary and knowing guilty plea. (D.I. 9-5 at 6-7) Petitioner did not appeal that decision.

On August 20, 2012, petitioner filed a second Rule 61 motion. The Superior Court denied the motion on March 28, 2013, and petitioner did not appeal that decision. (D.I. 8 at 4)

Petitioner timely filed a§ 2254 application in this court. (D.I. 1) The State filed an answer (D.I. 8), arguing that the court should deny the application because the claims either fail to present issues cognizable ...


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