United States District Court, D. Delaware
Chattin. Pro se Petitioner.
Gregory E. Smith, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware
Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for
U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is an Application For A Writ Of Habeas
Corpus Pursuant To 28 U.S.C. § 2254
('Tetition") filed by Petitioner Lazaar Chattin
("Petitioner"). (D.I. 3) For the reasons
discussed, the Court will dismiss the Petition and deny the
was indicted on the following charges in December 2008:
attempted first degree murder; three counts of possession of
a firearm during the commission of a felony
("PFDCF"); reckless first degree endangering; two
counts of possession of a firearm by a person prohibited
('TFBPP"); possession of ammunition by a person
prohibited ("PABPP"); aggravated menacing; and
theft of a firearm. (D.I. 18 at 3) The charges arose from two
related incidents. (D.L 18 at 1)
first incident took place at Tyrell Wilson's home in
Newark on October 24, 2008. Wilson and Shaun Holt, who were
both acquaintances of Petitioner, were present in the house
when Petitioner stopped by. After Petitioner left, Wilson
noticed that his handgun, which he kept in his bedroom, was
missing, and he suspected Petitioner of stealing it. Later
that evening, Wilson confronted Petitioner about taking the
gun. Petitioner denied it, but when Wilson threatened to pat
him down, Petitioner drew the gun, pointed it at Wilson, and
threatened to kill him if he did not leave. As he left,
Wilson heard a single gunshot. (D.L 18 at 1-2)
reported the gun as stolen to the police. (D.L 18 at 2) A few
days later, Wilson identified Petitioner as the suspect from
a six photograph photo lineup, and a warrant was issued for
Petitioner's arrest. Id.
second incident occurred on November 8, 2008, while Wilson
and Holt were in Holt's house. (D.L 18 at 2) Shortly
before 2 a.m., they saw Petitioner and several other men
hanging around Wilson's car, which was parked in front of
the house. Holt went outside to smoke a cigarette. Petitioner
asked Holt where Wilson was, and became irritated at Holt
when he would not answer. As he turned to leave, Holt heard a
gun firing, looked back, and saw Petitioner shooting at him.
Holt was struck once in the leg as he fled up the steps and
into the front door of his house. The police were called, and
they found Holt in his bedroom with a gunshot wound to his
right leg. Holt told the police that Petitioner had shot him.
At the hospital, police showed Holt a single photograph of
Petitioner, and Holt identified Petitioner as the shooter.
investigating the shooting, the police found six bullet holes
in the front door of Holt's house and a box of ammunition
approximately 50 yards away. (D.I. 18 at 2) A latent
fingerprint was recovered from the ammunition box, which was
matched to Petitioner. Id. The handgun was never
recovered. (D.I. 20, Affidavit of Dade Werb, Esq.)
2009, Petitioner's first jury trial ended in a mistrial
during jury deliberations. (D.I. 18 at 3) His second jury
trial occurred in April 2010, and Petitioner was convicted of
attempted murder, reckless endangering, PEDCF, PABPP, theft
of a firearm, and PFBPP, and acquitted of aggravated menacing
and an associated PFDCF charge. Id. He was sentenced
to a total of forty-four years of imprisonment, suspended
after serving twenty-five years mandatory for eight years at
Level IV, suspended after one year for probation. See
Chattin v. State, 16 A.3d 937 (Table), 2011 WL 987752,
at *1 (Del. Mar. 21, 2011). The Delaware Supreme Court
affirmed Petitioner's convictions and sentence on direct
appeal. Id. at *3.
2011, Petitioner filed his first motion for post-conviction
relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61
("Rule 61 motion). (D.I. 18 at 4) A Superior Court
Commissioner issued a Report and Recommendation that the Rule
61 motion be denied. See State v. Chattin, 2012 WL
1413452, at *8 (Del. Super. Ct. Jan. 6, 2012). The Superior
Court adopted the recommendation and issued an order denying
the Rule 61 motion; the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that
decision. See Chattin v. State, 58 A.3d 982 (Table),
2012 WL 5844886 at *1 (Del. Nov. 16, 2012).
filed his second Rule 61 motion in October, 2013. (D.I. 20,
Del. Super. Ct. Crim. Dkt. Entry No. 106) The Superior Court
denied that motion, and Petitioner did not appeal that
decision. (D.I. 20, Del. Super. Ct. Crim. Dkt. Entry No.
GOVERNING LEGAL PRINCIPLES
enacted the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of
1996 ("AEDPA") "to reduce delays in the
execution of state and federal criminal sentences . . . and
to further the principles of comity, finality, and
federalism." Woodford v. Garceau, 538 U.S. 202,
206 (2003). Pursuant to AEDPA, a federal court may consider a
habeas petition filed by a state prisoner only "on the
ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution
or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(a). AEDPA imposes procedural requirements and
standards for analyzing the merits of a habeas petition in
order to "prevent federal habeas 'retrials' and
to ensure that state-court convictions are given effect to
the extent possible under law." Bell v. Cone,
535 U.S. 685, 693 (2002); see also Woodford, 538
U.S. at 206.
Exhaustion and Procedural Default
exceptional circumstances, a federal court cannot grant
habeas relief unless the petitioner has exhausted all means
of available relief under state law. See 28. U.S.C.
§ 2254(b); see also O'Sullivan v.
Boerakel, 526 U.S. 838, 842-44 (1999); Picard v.
Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275 (1971). AEDPA states, in
An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a
person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court
shall not be granted unless it appears that -
(A) the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the
courts of the State; or
(B)(i) there is an absence of available State corrective
(ii) circumstances exist that render such process ineffective
to protect the rights of the applicant.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1).
exhaustion requirement is based on principles of comity,
requiring a petitioner to give "state courts one full
opportunity to resolve any constitutional issues by invoking
one complete round of the State's established appellate
review process." O'Sullivan, 526 U.S. at
844-45; see also Werts v. Vaughn,228 F.3d 178, 192
(3d Cir. 2000). A petitioner satisfies the exhaustion
requirement by demonstrating that the habeas claims were
"fairly presented" to the state's highest
court, either on direct appeal or in a post-conviction
proceeding. See "Lambert v. Blackwell, 134 F.3d
506, 513 (3d Cir. 1997); see also Coverdale v.
Snyder, 2000 WL 1897290, at *2 (D. Del. Dec. 22, 2000).
"Fair presentation of a claim means that the petitioner
must present a federal claim's ...