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Justice v. Attorney General State of Delaware

United States District Court, D. Delaware

January 31, 2018

ALEX D. JUSTICE, SR., Petitioner,
v.
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondent.

          Alex D. Justice, Sr. Pro se Petitioner.

          Carolyn Shelley Hake, Deputy Attorney General of the Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Petitioner Alex D. Justice, Sr. ("Petitioner") is an inmate in custody at the Sussex Correctional Center in Georgetown, Delaware. Petitioner filed an Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ("Petition"). (D.I. 2) The State filed an Answer in opposition, asserting that the Petition should be dismissed as time-barred or, alternatively because three of the claims lack merit and one fails to assert an issue cognizable on federal habeas review. (D.I. 13) For the reasons discussed, the Court will deny the Petition as barred by the limitations period prescribed in 28 U.S.C. § 2244.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner was indicted on seven counts of second degree rape of a child and one count of second degree unlawful sexual conduct with a child. (D.I. 16-1 at 12-14); see Justice v. State, 69 A.3d 371 (Table), 2013 WL 3722357, at *1 (Del. July 11, 2013). On December 13, 2012, a Delaware Superior Court jury convicted Petitioner of one count of second degree rape and one count of unlawful sexual contact. The jury acquitted Petitioner of the remaining charges. See Justice, 2013 WL 3722357, at *1. Thereafter, the Superior Court conducted a separate bench trial and found that Petitioner was a sex offender at the time of the offenses. Id. at *2. The Superior Court sentenced him on January 25, 2013 as a habitual offender to life in prison. Id. Prisoner appealed, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision on July 11, 2013. Id. at*3.

         On June 23, 2014, Petitioner filed a motion for postconviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion"). The Superior Court denied the Rule 61 motion on September 22, 2015 (D.I. 16-12 at 8, Entry No. 92), and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision on May 2, 2016. See Justice v. State, 138 A.3d 476 (Table), 2016 WL 2585918, at *1.

         Petitioner filed the instant Petition in September 2016, asserting the following grounds for relief: (1) defense counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to request specific DNA discovery; (2) defense counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to advise Petitioner that he could wear "street clothing" during the trial; (3) the Superior Court erred by denying his claim of cumulative due process error; and (4) the Superior Court erred by denying his request for an evidentiary hearing on his Rule 61 motion.

         II. ONE YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

         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 ...

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