United States District Court, D. Delaware
EDWIN W. SCARBOROUGH, Petitioner,
DANA METZGER, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.
W. Scarborough. Pro se Petitioner.
Gregory E. Smith, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware
Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for
U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is an Application For A Writ Of Habeas
Corpus Pursuant To 28 U.S.C. § 2254
("Petition") filed by Petitioner Edwin W.
Scarborough ("Petitioner"). (D.I. 3) The State has
filed an Answer in opposition. (D.I. 20) For the reasons
discussed, the Court will dismiss the Petition and deny the
2, 2012, Petitioner was indicted on charges of drag dealing
(cocaine), endangering the welfare of a child, and possession
of drug paraphernalia. (D.I. 20 at 1) Petitioner filed a
motion to suppress the drug evidence found in his motel room,
which the Superior Court denied after a hearing. Id.
at 1-2, 6. On January 6, 2014, the first day of the scheduled
trial, Petitioner pled guilty to drug dealing in violation of
16 Del. Code § 4753(1), in exchange for which the State
dismissed the other two charges. Id. at 2. The
Superior Court sentenced Petitioner to 15 years at Level V
incarceration, to be suspended after serving three years for
decreasing levels of supervision. See Scarborough v.
State, 119 A.3d 43 (Table), 2015 WL 4606519 (Del. Jul.
30, 2015). The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed
Petitioner's convictions. Id. Petitioner did not
pursue post-conviction relief in the Delaware state courts.
Petitioner filed in this Court a habeas Petition, asserting
four grounds for relief. (D.I. 3) The State filed a Motion to
Dismiss because the Petition contained three exhausted claims
and one unexhausted claim of ineffective assistance of
counsel and, therefore, constituted a mixed habeas petition.
(D.I. 12) The Court gave Petitioner the opportunity to choose
between having the Petition dismissed without prejudice or
deleting the unexhausted claim in order to proceed with the
three exhausted claims. (D.I. 17) Petitioner elected to
delete the unexhausted claim and proceed with the exhausted
claims. (D.I. 18) Consequently, the Petition presently
pending before the Court asserts the following three grounds
for relief: (1) Petitioner's guilty plea was rendered
involuntary because the trial court failed to advise
Petitioner about any of the constitutional rights he was
waiving by pleading guilty; (2) the police violated the plain
view doctrine and illegally entered his motel room without a
warrant in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights; and (3)
the State's failure to inform him about the evidence
mishandling scandal at the Office of the Chief Medical
Examiner ("OCME") before he decided to plead guilty
violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), and
rendered his guilty plea involuntary under Brady v.
United State, 397 U.S. 742 (1970). (D.I. 3; D.I. 8 at
10; D.I. 18) The State filed an Answer asserting that the
Petition should be denied because Claims One and Three do
warrant relief under § 2254(d) and Claim Two is not
cognizable on federal habeas review. (D.I. 20)
GOVERNING LEGAL PRINCIPLES
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). 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
(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; 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 to
consider the claims on their merits. Bell v. Cone,
543 U.S. 447, 451 n.3 (2005); see also 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); league 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, Ml 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 Or. 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 (2006); 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). A claim has been "adjudicated on the
merits" for the purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) if
the state court decision finally resolves the claim on the
basis of its substance, rather than on a procedural or some
other ground. See Thomas v. Horn, 570 F.3d 105, 115
(3d Cir. 2009). 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. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) &
(2); see also 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;" as explained by the Supreme Court, "it may
be presumed that the state court adjudicated the claim on the
merits in die absence of any indication or state-law
procedural principles to the contrary." Harrington
v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 98-100 (2011).
a federal court must presume that the state court's
determinations of factual issues are correct. See 28
U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1); see also 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); see also
Campbell v. Vaughn, 209 F.3d 280, 286 (3d Cir. 2000);
Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 341(2003)
(stating that clear and convincing standard in §
2254(e)(1) applies to factual issues, whereas unreasonable
application standard of § 2254(d)(2) applies to factual
Claim One: Involuntary Guilty Plea
Claim One, Petitioner contends that his guilty plea was
involuntary because he did not understand the constitutional
rights he was waiving. (D.I. 8 at 2-5) He appears to premise
this argument on the following two "facts": (1) the
trial judge did not explicitly inform him of the specific
constitutional rights he was waiving as a result of pleading
guilty; and (2) he did not check the "yes" box on
the Truth-In-Sentencing (TIS) Guilty Form indicating that he
understood the constitutional rights he was waiving by
pleading guilty. Petitioner did not present the instant
argument asserted in Claim One to the Delaware Supreme Court
on direct appeal. Rather, on direct appeal, he argued that
he did not knowingly waive his rights to appeal the denial of
his suppression motion, and he presented the aforementioned
two "facts" as support for his argument. See
Scarborough, 2015 WL 4606519, at *3. The Delaware
Supreme Court opined that the disposition of Petitioner's
appellate claims "hinge[d] on the Court's
determination of whether [Petitioner] entered his guilty plea
knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily," and
proceeded to analyze whether the two "facts"
presented by Petitioner rendered his guilty plea involuntary.
Since the Delaware Supreme Court ...