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Huffman v. Metzger

United States District Court, D. Delaware

April 23, 2018

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

          Fred Huffman. Pro se Petitioner.

          Elizabeth R. McFarlan, Deputy Attorney General of the Delaware Department of Justice Attorney for Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STARK, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Presently pending before the Court is Petitioner Fred Huffman's ("Petitioner") Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ("Petition"). (D.I. 1; D.I. 4; D.I. 8) The State filed an Answer in opposition. (D.I. 17) For the reasons discussed, the Court will dismiss the Petition.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner sexually molested his stepdaughter from 1990, when she was eight years old, until 1995, when she was thirteen years old. (D.I. 17 at 1-2) The stepdaughter reported Petitioner's assault to the police in November 2010. (D.I. 17 at 3) On January 26, 2012, Petitioner pled guilty to one count of second degree unlawful intercourse as a lesser included offense of first degree unlawful intercourse. (D.I. 17 at I; see also Huffman v. State, 116 A.3d 1243 (Table), 2015 WL 4094234, at *3 (Del. July 6, 2015)) The Superior Court sentenced Petitioner on July 26, 2013 to twenty years at Level V incarceration, with credit for twenty-nine days served, suspended after ten years for the balance to be served at Level IV incarceration or decreasing levels of supervision. (D.I. 17 at 1) Petitioner was also required to register as a Tier 3 sex offender. (Id.) He did not file a direct appeal. (Id.)

         In June 2014, Petitioner filed a pro se motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion"). See Huffman, 2015 WL 4094234, at *1. The Superior Court denied the Rule 61 motion on August 21, 2014, and the Supreme Court affirmed that decision on July 6, 2015. Sec Huffman, 2015 WL 4094234, at *4.

         III. GOVERNING LEGAL PRINCIPLES

         A. Exhaustion and Procedural Default

         Absent 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); O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 842-44 (1999); Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275 (1971). The AEDPA states, in pertinent part:

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 process; or
(ii) circumstances exist that render such process ineffective to protect the rights of the applicant.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1).

         The 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, in a procedural manner permitting the court ...


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