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Rivera v. Metzger

United States District Court, D. Delaware

August 29, 2017

MARK RIVERA, Petitioner,
v.
DANA METZGER, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.[1]

          Mark Rivera. Pro se petitioner.

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

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          SLEET DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the court is an application for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ("petition") filed by petitioner Mark Rivera ("Rivera"). (D.I. 3) The State filed an answer in opposition. (D.I. 11) For the following reasons, the court will deny the petition as time-barred by the one-year limitations period prescribed in 28 U.S.C. § 2244.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In December 2009, a Delaware Superior Court jury convicted Rivera of first degree murder for fatally beating and drowning the roommate of Rivera's ex-wife. See Rivera v. State, 7 A.3d 961, 963 (Del. 2010). The Superior Court sentenced Rivera to life imprisonment on February 17, 2010, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed his conviction and sentence on November 10, 2010. Id.

         Rivera filed a pro se motion for correction of sentence pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 35(a) ("Rule 35(a) motion") on July 21, 2011, which the Superior Court denied on August 15, 2011. See Rivera v. State, 70 A.3d 206 (Table), 2012 WL 6632924, at *1 (Del. Dec. 18, 2012). Rivera filed a second Rule 35(a) motion on March 30, 2012, which the Superior Court denied on June 7, 2012. See Rivera, 2012 WL 6632924, at *1. Rivera did not appeal either of the Superior Court's denials of his Rule 35(a) motions. (D.I. 13 at 249)

         On June 1, 2012, River file a motion requesting the Superior Court to either conduct an evidentiary hearing or re-issue its August 15, 2011 order denying his first Rule 35(a) motion, claiming that he was not informed about the Superior Court's August 15, 2011 denial of his first Rule 35(a) motion until May 2012. The Superior Court denied the motion on July 5, 2012. See Rivera, 2012 WL 6632924, at *1. Rivera appealed, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court's July 5, 2012 decision on December 18, 2012. Id. at *2.

         On July 13, 2012, Rivera filed a motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion"). The Superior Court denied the Rule 61 motion on April 14, 2014, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision on August 15, 2014. See Rivera v. State, 100 A.3d 1021 (Table), 2014 WL 4063009, at *1 (Del. Aug. 15, 2014).

         Rivera filed the instant habeas petition in September 2014, asserting the following three ineffective assistance of counsel claims: (1) defense counsel represented Rivera while impaired from the use of prescription drugs; (2) defense counsel failed to request a missing evidence jury instruction for seized evidence that was not tested for potentially exculpatory material; and (3) defense counsel ineffectively cross-examined the medical examiner about his opinion that Pate's cause of death was drowning. The State filed an answer in opposition, alleging that the petition should be denied as time-barred or, alternatively, as procedurally barred. (D.I. 11)

         II. 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, and habeas petitions filed in federal courts after this date must comply with the AEDPA's requirements. See generally Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336 (1997). 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 review;
(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 was ...

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