United States District Court, D. Delaware
CHRISTOPHER H. WEST, Petitioner,
DANA METZGER, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.
Stephen A. Hampton, Esquire, Nicholas Casamento, Esquire and
Joseph A. Rastasiewicz, Esquire. Counsel for petitioner.
V. Sullivan, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of
Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for respondents.
before the court is an application and an amended application
for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254
("petition") filed by petitioner Christopher H.
West ("West"). (D.I. 3; D.I. 9) The State filed an
answer in opposition. (D.I. 21) For the following reasons,
the court will deny the petition as barred by the one-year
limitations period prescribed in 28 U.S.C. § 2244.
January 2012, West pled guilty to one count each of first and
second degree robbery. See West v. State, 100 A.3d
1022 (Table), 2014 WL 4264922, at *1 (Del. Aug. 28, 2014). On
March 30, 2012, the Superior Court sentenced West as a
habitual offender to a total of twenty-eight years at Level V
incarceration, to be suspended after serving twenty-five
years in prison for decreasing levels of supervision. West
did not file a direct appeal. Id.
February 27, 2013, West filed a pro se motion for
post-conviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court
Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion), which the Superior
Court denied on January 7, 2014. See West v. State,
148 A.3d 687 (Table), 2016 WL 5349354, at *1 (Del. Sept. 23,
2016). The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision on
August 28, 2014. Id. at *3.
December 2014, West filed in this court a habeas petition,
followed by an amended petition, asserting the following five
grounds for relief: (1) his habitual offender sentence is
illegal because one of the predicate convictions is illegal;
(2) his guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary; (3)
defense counsel provided ineffective assistance; (4) his
confession was coerced; and (5) he was deprived of his Sixth
Amendment right to counsel. (D.I. 3; D.I. 9) The State filed
an answer asserting that the petition should be denied as
time-barred or, alternatively, because the claims lack merit.
February 24, 2015, West filed in the Delaware Superior Court
a second Rule 61 motion and a motion to withdraw his guilty
plea. See State v. West, 2015 WL 3429919, at *l-2
(Del. Super. Ct. May 21, 2015). The Superior Court treated
the motion to withdraw the guilty plea as West's third
Rule 61 motion and denied his second and third Rule 61
motions on May 21, 2015. Id.
April and May of 2016, West filed a Rule 35(a) motion and an
amended Rule 35(a) motion for correction of sentence. See
West, 2016 WL 5349354, at *1. The Superior Court denied
the motions, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that
decision on September 23, 2016. See West, 2016 WL
5349354, at *2.
ONE YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
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
prevented from filing by such State action;
(C) the date on which the constitutional right asserted was
initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if the right has
been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made
retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or
(D) the date on which the factual predicate of the claim or
claims presented could have been discovered through the
exercise of due diligence.
28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1).
petition, filed in 2014, is subject to the one-year
limitations period contained in § 2244(d)(1). See
Lindh, 521 U.S. at 336. West does not allege, and the
court does not discern, any facts triggering the application
of § 2244(d)(1)(B), (C), or (D). Thus, the one-year
period of limitations in this case began to run when
West's conviction became final under §
to § 2244(d)(1)(A), if a state prisoner does not appeal
a state court judgment, the judgment of conviction becomes
final, and the one-year period begins to run, upon expiration
of the time period allowed for seeking direct review. See
Kapral v. United States,166 F.3d 565, 575, 578 (3d Cir.
1999); Jones v. Morton,195 F.3d 153, 158 (3d Cir.
1999). Here, the Delaware Superior Court sentenced West on
March 30, 2012, and he did not appeal. Therefore, West's
conviction became final on April 30, 2012.See Del.
Supr. Ct. R. 6(a)(ii) (establishing a 30 day period for
timely filing a notice of appeal). Accordingly, to comply
with the one-year limitations period, West had to file his
§ 2254 petition by April 30, 2013. See Nunez v.
California, 2014 WL 809206, at *3 n. 9 (N.D. Ohio Feb.
25, 2014)(explaining "[e]very federal circuit that has
addressed the issue has concluded that [the] method in [in
Fed.R.Civ.P. 6], i.e., the 'anniversary'