United States District Court, D. Delaware
Jamaien Monroe. Pro se petitioner.
P. Lugg, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of
Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for respondents.
Delaware Pending before the court is a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 filed by
petitioner Jamaien Monroe ("Monroe"). (D.I. 1) The
State filed an answer in opposition. (D.I. 15) For the
reasons discussed, the court will deny the petition.
case arises from two separate incidents. The first set of
charges against Monroe were attempted first degree murder and
other charges resulting from an incident occurring on January
26, 2006. (D.I. 17 at 11) The second set of charges arose out
of an incident which occurred on April 2, 2207, and included
first degree murder and other related charges. In both cases,
the shooting victim was Andre "Gus" Ferrell. The
cases were later consolidated into one case, which is the
case leading to this proceeding. As a result of the
consolidation, counts 12-14 of the indictment related to the
January 26, 2006 attempted murder of Ferrell and counts 1-11
related to the April 2, 2007 murder of Ferrell. See State
v. Monroe, 2010 WL 1960123 (Del. Super. Ct. May 14,
2010). In March 2009, a Delaware Superior Court jury
convicted Monroe of first degree murder and the related
charges, but found him not guilty of the counts related to
the attempted murder charges. (D.I. 15 at 1) Monroe was
sentenced to life imprisonment plus twelve years.
Id. The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed his
convictions on September 14, 2011. See Monroe v.
State, 28 A.3d 418 (Del. 2011) (en banc).
September 2012, Monroe filed in the Delaware Superior Court a
motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Delaware
Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion").
(D.I. 17-1 at 160, Entry No. 212) The Superior Court denied
the motion, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that
decision. See State v. Monroe, 2014 WL 2581971 (Del.
Super. Ct. June 6, 2014); see Monroe v. State, 2015
WL 1407856 (Del. Mar. 25, 2015).
GOVERNING LEGAL PRINCIPLES
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of
enacted the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of
1996 ("AEDPA") "to reduce delays in the
execution of state and federal criminal sentences ... and to
further the principles of comity, finality, and
federalism." Woodford v. Garceau, 538 U.S. 202,
206 (2003). Pursuant to AEDPA, a federal court may consider a
habeas petition filed by a state prisoner only "on the
ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution
or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(a). AEDPA imposes procedural requirements and
standards for analyzing the merits of a habeas petition in
order to "prevent federal habeas 'retrials' and
to ensure that state-court convictions are given effect to
the extent possible under law." Bell v. Cone,
535 U.S. 685, 693 (2002).
Exhaustion and Procedural Default
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). 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
(ii) circumstances exist that render such process ineffective
to protect the rights of the applicant.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1).
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; 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 to consider the claims
on their merits. See Bell, 543 U.S. at 451 n.3;
Castille v. Peoples, 489 U.S. 346, 351 (1989).
petitioner's failure to exhaust state remedies will be
excused if state procedural rules preclude him from seeking
further relief in state courts. See Lines v.
Larkins, 208 F.3d 153, 160 (3d Cir. 2000); see
Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 297-98 (1989). Although
treated as technically exhausted, such claims are nonetheless
procedurally defaulted. See Lines, 208 F.3d at 160;
Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 750-51 (1991).
Similarly, if a petitioner presents a habeas claim to the
state's highest court, but that court "clearly and
expressly" refuses to review the merits of the claim due
to an independent and adequate state procedural rule, the
claim is exhausted but procedurally defaulted. See
Coleman, 501 U.S. at 750; Harris v. Reed, 489
U.S. 255, 260-64(1989).
courts may not consider the merits of procedurally defaulted
claims unless the petitioner demonstrates either cause for
the procedural default and actual prejudice resulting
therefrom, or that a fundamental miscarriage of justice will
result if the court does not review the claims. See
McCandless v. Vaughn, 172 F.3d 255, 260 (3d Cir. 1999);
Coleman, 501 U.S. at 750-51. To demonstrate cause
for a procedural default, a petitioner must show that
"some objective factor external to the defense impeded
counsel's efforts to comply with the State's
procedural rule." Murray v. Carrier, 477 U.S.
478, 488 (1986). To demonstrate actual prejudice, a
petitioner must show "that [the errors at trial] worked
to his actual and substantial disadvantage, infecting his
entire trial with error of constitutional dimensions."
Id. at 494.
a federal court may excuse a procedural default if the
petitioner demonstrates that failure to review the claim will
result in a fundamental miscarriage of justice. See
Edwards v. Carpenter, 529 U.S. 446, 451 (2000);
Wenger v. Frank, 266 F.3d 218, 224 (3d Cir. 2001). A
petitioner demonstrates a miscarriage of justice by showing a
"constitutional violation has probably resulted in the
conviction of one who is actually innocent."
Murray, 477 U.S. at 496. Actual innocence means
factual innocence, not legal insufficiency. See Bousley
v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 623 (1998). In order to
establish actual innocence, the petitioner must present new
reliable evidence - not presented at trial - that
demonstrates "it is more likely than not that no
reasonable juror would have found petitioner guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt." House v. Bell, 547 U.S. 518,
537-38 (2005); see Sweger v. Chesney, 294 F.3d 506,
522-24 (3d Cir. 2002).
Standard of Review
state's highest court has adjudicated a federal habeas
claim on the merits,  the federal court must review the claim
under the deferential standard contained in 28 U.S.C. §
2254(d). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), federal habeas
relief may only be granted if the state court's decision
was "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable
application of, clearly established Federal law, as
determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, "
or the state court's decision was an unreasonable
determination of the facts based on the evidence adduced in
the trial. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) & (2); see
Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000); Appel
v. Horn, 250 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2001). This
deferential standard of § 2254(d) applies even when a
state court's order is unaccompanied by an opinion
explaining the reasons relief has been denied. See
Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 98-101 (2011). As
explained by the Supreme Court, "it may be presumed that
the state court adjudicated the claim on the merits in the
absence of any indication or state-law procedural principles
to the contrary." Id. at 99.
a federal court must presume that the state court's
determinations of factual issues are correct. See 28
U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); Appel, 250 F.3d at 210.
This presumption of correctness applies to both explicit and
implicit findings of fact, and is only rebutted by clear and
convincing evidence to the contrary. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(e)(1); Campbell v. Vaughn, 209 F.3d 280,
286 (3d Cir. 2000); Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S.
322, 341 (2003)(stating that the clear and convincing
standard in § 2254(e)(1) applies to factual issues,
whereas the unreasonable application standard of §
2254(d)(2) applies to factual decisions).