United States District Court, D. Delaware
JOHN C. JOHNSON, Petitioner,
DANA METZGER, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.
C, Johnson. Pro se petitioner.
Gregory E. Smith, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware
Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for
Sleeet, District Judge
before the court is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and an amended petition
filed by petitioner John Johnson ("Johnson"). (D.I.
1; D.I. 11) The State filed an answer in opposition. (D.I.
19) 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.
Aggravated Menacing Conviction
September 1997, Johnson was indicted and charged with
aggravated menacing, two counts of possession of a firearm
during the commission of a felony ("PFDCF"), second
degree assault, and first degree reckless endangering. (D.I.
19 at 2) On March 23, 1998, he pled guilty to aggravated
menacing, in exchange for which the State dismissed the
balance of the indictment. Id. Johnson was seventeen
years old when he committed the offenses, but he was eighteen
years old when he was indicted and pled guilty. (D.I. 21 at
267) The Superior Court sentenced him to twenty four months
at Level V imprisonment, suspended for twenty four months at
Level III probation. (D.I. 19 at 2)
1998, the Superior Court found that Johnson had violated his
probation ("VOP") and sentenced him to twenty four
months at Level V, suspended for twenty four months at Level
IV home confinement, which, in turn, was suspended after six
months for eighteen months at Level III. (D.I. 19 at 2) In
December 1999, the Superior Court found that Johnson had
committed a second VOP and sentenced him to one year at Level
2010, Johnson filed a petition for a writ of error coram
nobis, which the Delaware Supreme Court dismissed on
August 31, 2010. (D.I. 21 at 295); see In re
Johnson, 3 A.3d 1097 (Table), 2010 WL 3420371 (Del. Aug.
31, 2010). On February 6, 2013, Johnson filed a motion for
correction of sentence, which the Superior Court denied on
February 22, 2013. (D.I. 19 at 2) On March 7, 2013, Johnson
filed a motion for postconviction relief pursuant to Delaware
Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion").
Id. The Superior Court denied the Rule 61 motion on
June 17, 2013, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that
decision on May 28, 2014. See Johnson v. State, 93
A.3d 654 (Table), 2014 WL 2463047 (Del. May 28, 2014).
October 1999, Johnson was indicted and charged with first
degree murder, PFDCF, and possession of a deadly weapon by a
person prohibited. (D.I. 19 at 3) He pled guilty to PFDCF and
the lesser included offense of second degree murder on May 8,
2001, and he was sentenced on July 12, 2001 as follows: for
the second degree murder conviction, twenty years at Level V,
suspended after seventeen years for decreasing levels of
supervision, and for the PFDCF conviction, ten years at Level
9, 2008, Johnson filed a Rule 61 motion, which the Superior
Court denied on March 31, 2009. (D.I. 19 at 3) The Delaware
Supreme Court affirmed that decision on September 4, 2008.
See State v. Johnson, 2009 WL 866180 (Del. Super.
Ct. Mar. 31, 2009); Johnson v. State, 979 A.2d 1111
(Table), 2009 WL 2860974 (Del. Sept. 4, 2009).
filed a second Rule 61 motion on March 18, 2013, which the
Superior Court denied on January 17, 2014. See State v.
Johnson, 2014 WL 595436 (Del. Super. Ct. Jan. 17, 2014).
The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision on March 6,
2014. See Johnson v. State, 86 A.3d 1119 (Table),
2014 WL 982395 (Del. Mar. 6, 2014).
filed a habeas petition in this court in January 2015, and
then he filed an amended petition in August 2015. Together,
these filings (hereinafter referred to as
"petition") present two general arguments: (1)
Johnson was a juvenile when he committed the aggravated
menacing offense leading to his 1998 conviction,
demonstrating that his 1998 aggravated menacing conviction
was illegal because the Superior Court does not have
jurisdiction over juveniles cases (D.I. 1); and (2) the
sentence for his 2001 PFDCF conviction should be vacated
because it was improperly "enhanced" on the basis
of the illegal 1998 aggravated menacing conviction (D.I. 11).
More specifically, the petition asserts the following six
claims: (1) the Superior Court lacked jurisdiction over the
aggravated menacing case because Johnson was a juvenile when
he committed the offense; (2) defense counsel provided
ineffective assistance by allowing the Superior Court to
preside over his aggravated menacing case; (3) defense
counsel provided ineffective assistance during the aggravated
menacing case by failing to subject the State's case to
adversarial testing; (4) defense counsel provided ineffective
assistance during the plea negotiations in his murder case by
failing to seek a decision on the motion to strike the death
penalty as a potential sentence and by failing to inform
Johnson that his 1998 aggravated menacing conviction could
cause him to be classified as a habitual offender and/or
cause the sentence for his murder conviction to be
"enhanced"; (5) he would not have entered a guilty
plea in his murder case if he knew that the death penalty was
not a possibility and that there was a possibility he could
be classified as a habitual offender; and (6) defense counsel
provided ineffective assistance during sentencing for
Johnson's 2001 murder/PFDCF convictions by failing to
challenge the habitual offender classification. (D.I. 1; D.I.
State filed an answer in opposition, alleging that the
petition should be denied as time-barred or, alternatively,
as procedurally barred. (D.I. 19)
ONE YEAR ...