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Payne v. Metzger

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 19, 2018

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

          Ronald Payne. Pro Se Petitioner.

          Gregory E. Smith, Deputy Attorney General of the Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STARK, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is an Application For A Writ Of Habeas Corpus Pursuant To 28 U.S.C. § 2254 filed by Petitioner Ronald Payne ("Petitioner"). (D.L 3) The State has filed an Answer in Opposition. (D.I. 11) For the reasons discussed, the Court will dismiss the Petition as time-barred under by the limitations period prescribed in 28 U.S.C. § 2244.

         II. BACKGROUND

         In January 1988, Petitioner was indicted on two counts of assault in a detention facility and one count of possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony ("PDWDCF"). See Payne v. State, 82 A.3d 730 (Table), 2013 WL 6411598, at *1 Del. Dec. 6, 2013). Petitioner's jury trial started in May 1988, but the Delaware Superior Court declared a mistrial on May 4, 1988 after the jury failed to reach a verdict. Id. at *1. Following a re-trial in November 1988, a Delaware Superior Court jury found Petitioner guilty of one count of assault in a detention facility and one count of PDWDCF. He was sentenced as a habitual offender to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Id. The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision. See Payne v. State, 577 A.2d 754 (Table), 1990 WL 84673 (Del. May 29, 1990).

         Petitioner filed his first motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion") on May 25, 1993. The Superior Court denied the motion on December 1, 1993, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision on March 9, 1994. See Payne v. State, 640 A.2d 655 (Table), 1994 WL 91244 (Del. Mar. 9, 1994).

         On August 6, 1997, the Board of Parole denied Petitioner's application for parole, and made him eligible to re-apply after August 2003. (D.L 11 at 2) Petitioner has not re-applied for parole. (D.I. 11 at 2 n.3)

         Petitioner filed his second Rule 61 motion on March 7, 2001. The Superior Court denied the motion, and he did not appeal that decision. See State v. Payne, 2001 WL 755347 (Del. Super. Ct. June 29, 2001); D.I. 11 at 2. Petitioner filed his third Rule 61 motion on March 22, 2013, which the Superior Court denied on April 23, 2013. See State v. Payne, Case No. 880000107DI, Order, Streett, J. (Del. Super Ct. Apr. 23, 2013). The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision on December 6, 2013. See Payne, 2013 WL 6411598, at *2 (Del. Dec. 6, 2013).

         The instant Petition is dated November 2014, and asserts two grounds for relief: (1) defense counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to argue that the State engaged in prosecutorial misconduct by improperly altering Counts One and Three of the indictment and also by failing to demonstrate Petitioner's actual innocence; and (2) the State violated Petitioner's right to due process and the ex post facto clause by retroactively eliminating his non-discretionary good time release credits pursuant to the Delaware Supreme Court's decision in Evans v. State, 872 A.2d 539 (Del. 2005) ("Evans II). (D.I. 3 at 5, 7)

         III. ONE YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

         The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA") was signed into law on April 23, 1996. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). 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 ...

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