United States District Court, D. Delaware
DANIEL M. PASKINS, JR., Petitioner,
DAVID PIERCE, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.
M. Paskins, Jr. Pro se petitioner.
Gregory E. Smith, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware
Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for
Robinson, District Judge.
Daniel M. Paskins Jr. ("petitioner") filed an
application for a writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2254 ("application"). (D.I. 1) For
the reasons that follow, the court will deny petitioner's
§ 2254 application.
pled guilty to first degree robbery and first degree burglary
in October 1988. See Paskins v. State, 58 A.3d 983
(Table), 2012 WL 5948969 at *1 (Del. Nov. 27, 2012). On March
9, 1989, he was sentenced to a total of twenty years at Level
V imprisonment, suspended after four and one-half years for
thirteen and one-half years at Level II probation.
Id. In January 1994, petitioner was convicted on
four counts of first degree robbery and one count of
possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a
felony, and he was sentenced to a total period of
thirty-three years at Level V, suspended after twenty-five
years for probation. See Paskins, 2012 WL 5948969,
at *1. As a result of this new conviction, the Superior Court
found petitioner in violation of his probation
("VOP") for his 1988 convictions. The Superior
Court re-imposed the sentence of twenty years, suspended
after four and one-half years of imprisonment, with credit
for time served, followed by ten years of probation. (D.I. 16
November 2010, petitioner filed a motion to modify his VOP
sentence for his 1988 convictions. See Paskins, 2012
WL 5948969 at *1. After granting the motion, the Superior
Court modified petitioner's sentence on January 19, 2011
by suspending all of the remaining Level V time and imposing
a one year period at Level IV home confinement, followed by
four years at Level III probation. See Paskins, 2012
WL 5948969 at *1. In July 2012, petitioner was arrested and
charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.
Id. As a result of that arrest, in August 2012 the
Superior Court found petitioner in violation of his probation
for his 1988 convictions and sentenced him to a total period
of thirty-one years at Level V incarceration, suspended
entirely for one year at Level IV home confinement, to be
followed by probation. Id. The Delaware Supreme
Court affirmed that VOP sentence order. Id. at *2.
January 4, 2013, petitioner was found in violation of his
probation for his 1988 convictions after testing positive for
alcohol during a urine screening test. (D.I. 16 at 3) As a
result, the Superior Court immediately sentenced him on the
VOP to a total of thirty one years at Level V incarceration,
suspended upon successful completion of the Greentree program
for decreasing levels of treatment and supervision. (D.I. 18
at 222-225, 230) Petitioner appealed, and the Delaware
Supreme Court dismissed petitioner's appeal on March 14,
2013 due to his failure to pay the filing fee or file a
motion to proceed in forma pauperis, and his failure to file
a timely response to show cause. See (D.I. 18 at
230); Paskins v. State, 2013 WL 1098258 (Del. Mar.
14, 2013). Petitioner filed a Rule 35 motion on April 1,
2013, which the Superior Court denied on April 9, 2013. (D.I.
16 at 2)
1, 2014, petitioner filed a motion to reduce his sentence for
his January 2013 VOP, which the Superior Court denied on
August 27, 2014. (D.I. 16 at 2) Petitioner filed a motion for
post-conviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court
Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion") on September
16, 2014. The Superior Court denied the Rule 61 motion on
September 29, 2014, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed
that decision on January 14, 2015. See Paskins v.
State, 108 A.3d 1225 (Table), 2015 WL 177415 (Del. Jan.
petitioner filed in this court the instant pending
application for habeas relief. In his sole claim, petitioner
contends that he is actually innocent of his January 4, 2013
VOP conviction (relating to his 1988 convictions), because
the probation officer lied when he said that petitioner's
urine tested positive for drugs and alcohol. The State filed
an answer, asserting that the application should be denied in
its entirety as moot, because petitioner only challenges the
Level V incarceration resulting from his 2013 VOP conviction
and he is now on probation. (D.I. 16 at 3-4) Alternatively,
the State contends that the application must be dismissed as
time-barred. (D.I. 16 at 3-4)
to Article III, Section 2, of the United States Constitution,
federal courts can only consider ongoing cases or
controversies. Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494
U.S. 472, 477-78 (1990); United States v. Kissinger,309 F.3d 179, 180 (3d Cir. 2002)(finding that an actual
controversy must exist during all stages of litigation). When
a habeas petitioner challenges his underlying conviction, and
he is released during the pendency of his habeas petition,
federal courts presume that "a wrongful criminal
conviction has continuing collateral consequences"
sufficient to satisfy the injury requirement. Spencer v.
Kemna,523 U.S. 1, 8 (1998); see Steele v.
Blackman,236 F.3d 130, 134 n.4 (3d Cir. 2001). However,
when a petitioner does not attack his conviction, the injury
requirement is not presumed. See Chong v. District
Director, INS,264 F.3d 378, 384 (3d Cir. 2001).
"[O]nce a litigant is unconditionally released from
criminal confinement, the litigant [can only satisfy the
case-and-controversy requirement by] prov[ing] that he or she
suffers a continuing injury from the collateral consequences
attaching to the challenged act" "that is likely to be
redressed by a favorable judicial decision."