United States District Court, D. Delaware
MICHAEL L. CHURCH, Petitioner,
DANA METZGER, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.
MICHAEL L. CHURCH. PRO SE PETITIONER.
ELIZABETH R. MCFARLAN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE
DELAWARE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, WILMINGTON, DELAWARE.
ATTORNEY FOR RESPONDENTS.
ANDREWS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Michael L. Church is an inmate in custody at the James T.
Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware. Petitioner
filed an Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2254 ("Petition"). (D.I. 1) The
State filed an Answer in opposition. (D.I. 8) For the reasons
discussed, the Court will deny the Petition as barred by the
limitations period prescribed in 28 U.S.C. § 2244.
forth by the Delaware Supreme Court in Petitioner's
second post-conviction appeal:
[Petitioner] was charged in a thirteen-count indictment with
having committed multiple sex offenses between August and
December 2010. On September 20, 2011, [Petitioner] pled
guilty to one count of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child and
one count of Sexual Abuse of a Child in the First Degree. In
exchange for the guilty plea, the State agreed to dismiss
eight counts of Sexual Abuse of a Child in the First Degree
and three counts of Sexual Abuse of a Child in the Second
Prior to sentencing, [Petitioner] filed a motion to withdraw
the guilty plea. [Petitioner] claimed that his defense
counsel was ineffective and that he felt "threaten[ed]
and forced" into taking the plea. The Superior Court
denied the motion and later denied [Petitioner's] motion
for reconsideration. The Superior Court found that the guilty
plea "was not the product of threat or misconduct by
defense counsel, " and that the plea was "knowing,
voluntary and intelligent." The Superior Court
determined that [Petitioner] pled guilty "because he is
guilty and he did not want to risk the consequences of the
jury trial that would have begun immediately, had he not
pleaded guilty." On March 9, 2012, the Superior Court
sentenced [Petitioner] to a total of thirty-five years at
Level V, suspended after twenty-two years (seventeen years
minimum mandatory), for Level IV work release and probation.
[Petitioner] did not file a direct appeal.
Church v. State, 131 A.3d 806 (Table), 2016 WL
47436, at *1 (Del. Jan. 4, 2016).
22, 2012, while represented by counsel, Petitioner moved for
a reduction of sentence. (D.I. 11-14 at 5, Entry No. 29) The
Superior Court denied the motion on June 28, 2012, and
Petitioner did not appeal that decision. (D.I. 11-14 at 5,
Entry No. 32)
March 6, 2013, Petitioner filed a. pro se motion for
postconviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court
Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion"). (D.I. 11-14 at
5, Entry No. 35) The Superior Court denied the Rule 61 motion
on June 25, 2013. See State v. Church, 2013 WL
3422490 (Del. Super. Ct. June 25, 2013). Petitioner did not
appeal that decision.
September 9, 2013, Petitioner filed a motion for appointment
of counsel in the Delaware Superior Court, (D.I. 11-14 at 6),
which the Superior Court denied on September 23, 2013 (D.I.
1-6 at 3). Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of
that decision on August 13, 2014, which the Superior Court
denied on October 6, 2014. (D.I. 12-4 at 6, Entry No. 43)
Petitioner appealed, and the Delaware Supreme Court dismissed
the appeal as interlocutory. See Church v. State,
2015 WL 1243731 (Del. Mar. 17, 2015).
4, 2015, Petitioner filed a second Rule 61 motion. (D.I. 12-4
at 8, Entry No. 51) The Superior Court denied that motion as
procedurally barred on August 18, 2015. (D.I. 12-4 at 8,
Entry No. 54) The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that
judgment on January 4, 2016, and denied Petitioner's
motion for rehearing en banc. See Church, 2016 WL
filed the instant Petition in April, 2016, asserting the
following grounds for relief: (1) the sentencing court
violated Petitioner's due process rights by relying on
allegations which lacked a minimum indicia of reliability and
by providing Petitioner an insufficient opportunity to rebut
the allegations; (2) defense counsel provide ineffective
assistance during the plea process and sentencing; and (3)
defense counsel's ineffectiveness rendered
Petitioner's guilty plea ...