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Boston v. Johnson

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 31, 2017

MICHAEL BOSTON, Petitioner,
v.
G.R. JOHNSON, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.

          Michael Boston. Pro se Petitioner.

          Gregory E. Smith, Deputy Attorney General of the Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STORK, U.S. District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Petitioner Michael Boston ("Petitioner") filed an Application For A Writ Of Habeas Corpus Pursuant To 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ("Petition"). (D.I. 3) For the reasons discussed, the Court will dismiss the Petition as time-barred by the limitations period prescribed in 28 U.S.C. § 2244.

         II. BACKGROUND

         In March 1991, four armed men, later identified as Petitioner, Hubert Pope, William Francis, and Edward Punnette, robbed the Wilmington Trust Company branch at Union Street in Wilmington, Delaware. See Pope v. State, 632 A.2d 73, 75 (Del. 1993). The four men left the bank in a van, with Wilmington Police Officers Thomas Spell and Chris Danese in pursuit. The officers directed the van to stop, but it accelerated and a chase began. Officers Spell and Danese were fired upon through the shattered rear window of the van, but were not hit by any bullets (the "first shoot-out"). That portion of the chase ended when the van drove through a red traffic light and struck a car (the "collision"), injuring two civilian occupants. Id.

         After the collision, the four men continued their flight on foot, and additional gunfire followed (the "second shoot-out"). See Pope, 632 A.2d at 75. Two officers who had joined the pursuit, Christine Dunning and Thomas Monahan, were each shot in the leg. The police captured Petitioner, Punnette, and Francis at the scene of the second shoot-out, but Pope escaped. After his arrest, Francis gave a statement to the police. He identified Petitioner as the driver of the van and Pope as the fourth robber. Id.

         In March, 1991, a federal grand jury indicted Petitioner on the following charges: conspiracy to commit bank robbery; bank robbery; two firearms offenses; and an unregistered firearms offense. (D.I. 11 at 2 n.4) On September 4, 1991, Petitioner pled guilty in this Court to all charges, and the Honorable Joseph J. Farnan, Jr. sentenced him to a total of twenty years and one month of imprisonment. (D.I. 3 at 25-27) He was incarcerated in a federal prison located in Pennsylvania until September 2008. (D.I. 3 at 13-14, 38)

         Meanwhile, on July 22, 1991, a New Castle County grand jury indicted Petitioner on the following charges: attempted first degree murder; eight counts of possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony ("PDWDCF"); first degree reckless endangering; first degree conspiracy; second degree murder; possession of a destructive weapon; and two counts of second degree assault. (D.I. 11 at 2) The Delaware Superior Court dismissed the murder charge upon Petitioner's motion. State v. Boston, 1992 WL 91173 (Del. Super. Ct. Apr. 16, 1992). In July 1992, a Delaware Superior Court jury convicted Petitioner of first degree attempted assault (as a lesser included offense of attempted murder), four counts of PDWDCF, second degree conspiracy (as a lesser-included offense of first degree conspiracy), possession of a destructive weapon, and two counts of third degree assault (as lesser-included offenses of second degree assault). (D.I. 11 at 3) The Superior Court sentenced Petitioner to a total of thirty years of imprisonment (D.I. 11 at 3), and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed Petitioner's convictions on October 20, 1993. See Boston v. State, 633 A.2d 368 (Table), 1993 WL 476390 (Del. Oct. 20, 1993).

         On February 17, 2005, Petitioner filed in the Delaware Superior Court a motion for sentence modification, which the Superior Court denied as time-barred on March 3, 2005. (D.I. 13, Del. Super. Ct. Crim. Dkt. Entry Nos. 47, 48) Petitioner was returned to Delaware from federal custody on September 11, 2008, and he began serving his Delaware sentence in the Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown, Delaware. (D.I. 3 at 14) On June 10, 2010, Petitioner filed in the Delaware Superior Court a motion for postconviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion"). The Superior Court denied the Rule 61 motion as meritless on December 3, 2010, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision on August 23, 2012, See Boston v. State, 53 A.3d 301 (Table), 2012 WL 3641297 (Del. Aug. 23, 2012).

         Acting pro se, Petitioner filed the instant § 2254 Petition in 2012. (D.I. 1) The Petition originally asserted four grounds for relief, but Petitioner subsequently filed, and the Court granted, a motion to dismiss grounds three and four. (D.I. 15; D.I. 18) Consequently, the Petition asserts the following two grounds for relief: (1) the multiple state and federal punishments that were imposed for Petitioner's commission of a single criminal act violate the Double Jeopardy Clause; and (2) defense counsel rendered constitutionally ineffective assistance by failing to raise the Double Jeopardy issue. (D.I. 3 at 16-24) The State filed an Answer, asserting that the Petition should be dismissed as time-barred or, alternatively, because the claims asserted therein are procedurally barred or meritless. (D.I. 11)

         III. 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 ...


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