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Hunter v. Metzger

United States District Court, D. Delaware

May 16, 2018

MARION PETER HUNTER, Petitioner,
v.
DANA METZGER, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.[1]

          Marion Peter Hunter. Pro se Petitioner.

          Brian L. Arban, Deputy Attorney General of the Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, UNITEP STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Presently pending before the Court is Petitioner Marion Peter Hunter's Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and Amended Application ("Petition"). (D.I. 3; D.I. 8) The State filed an Answer in opposition. (D.I. 12) For the reasons discussed, the Court will dismiss the Petition.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 2013, Petitioner was indicted on charges of first degree rape, sexual abuse of a child by a person in a position of trust, strangulation, third degree assault, and terroristic threatening. See Hunter v. State, 145 A.3d 429 (Table), 2016 WL 4191920, at *1 (Del. Aug. 1, 2016). On the day that his trial was scheduled to proceed, Petitioner pled guilty to one count of second degree rape. See State v. Hunter, 2016 WL 1424398, at *1 (Del. Super. Ct. Mar. 29, 2016). Petitioner did not file a direct appeal.

         Petitioner filed a pro se motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Rule 61 in November 2013. See State v. Hunter, 2014 WL 7474217, at *1 (Del. Super. Ct. Dec. 31, 2014). The Superior Court appointed conflict counsel ("first Rule 61 counsel") to represent Petitioner during his Rule 61 proceeding. Id. First Rule 61 counsel filed a motion to withdraw his representation on the basis that there were no meritorious claims. Id.; see also (D.I. 3-1 at 15) The Superior Court denied the motion, and instead, appointed new Rule 61 counsel to represent Petitioner ("second Rule 61 counsel"). See Hunter, 2014 WL 7474217, at *1. After reviewing the record, second Rule 61 counsel filed a motion to withdraw after determining that there were no meritorious claims. See Hunter, 2016 WL 1424398, at *3. On March 29, 2016, the Superior Court granted second Rule 61 counsel's motion to withdraw and dismissed the Rule 61 motion. Id. Petitioner appealed, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court's judgment on August 1, 2016. See Hunter, 2016 WL 4191920, at *2.

         II. 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 ...

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