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Lewia v. Metzger

United States District Court, D. Delaware

October 4, 2018

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

          Corey Lewis. Pro se Petitioner.

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

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [2]

          CONNOLLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Petitioner Corey Lewis' Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ("Petition"). (D.I. 1; D.l. 3) The State filed an Answer in opposition. (D.l. 13) For the reasons discussed, the Court will deny the Petition.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         In July 2013, Petitioner was indicted and charged with carrying a concealed deadly weapon ("CCDW"), possession of a firearm by a person prohibited ("PFBPP"), possession of ammunition by a person prohibited, receiving a stolen firearm, driving a vehicle with a suspended or revoked license, no proof of insurance, and spinning tires. See Lewis v. State, 125 A.3d 681 (Table), 2015 WL 5935050, at *1 (Del. Oct. 12, 2015). These charges stemmed from a traffic stop. On December 2, 2013, Petitioner pled guilty to possession of a firearm by a person prohibited ("PFBPP") and carrying a concealed deadly weapon ("CCDW"). Id. In exchange for Petitioner's plea, the State agreed to nolle prosse the remaining charges, to seek habitual offender status only on the CCDW charge, and to cap its sentence recommendation at thirteen years at Level V incarceration. Id. On February 14, 2014, the Delaware Superior Court declared Petitioner an habitual offender on the CCDW charge, and sentenced him to a total period of sixteen years at Level V incarceration, suspended after serving thirteen years for decreasing levels of supervision. Id. Petitioner did not appeal his convictions or sentences.

         On May 5, 2014, Petitioner filed a motion for sentence modification. (D.l. 17-3 at 3, Entry No. 21) The Superior Court denied the motion on May 28, 2014, stating that CCDW and PDWBPP are "separate and distinct charges, so double jeopardy does not prohibit separate convictions and sentences." (D.I. 17-2 at 3, Entry No. 22) Petitioner did not appeal that decision.

         Petitioner filed a motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion") on January 7, 2015, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to file a suppression motion. The Superior Court denied the Rule 61 motion in June 2015, [3] and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision on October 12, 2015. See Lewis, 2015 WL 5935050, at *2.

         On November 18, 2015, Petitioner filed a motion for correction of sentence, alleging that he was illegally sentenced as an habitual offender. See Lewis v. State, 137 A.3d 972 (Table), 2016 WL 2585680, at *1 (Del. Apr. 26, 2016). The Superior Court denied the motion for correction of sentence, and the Delaware Supreme affirmed that decision on April 26, 2016. See Lewis, 2016 WL 2585680, at *2. Petitioner filed the instant habeas Petition while his motion for correction of sentence was still pending before the Delaware Superior Court.

         II. GOVERNING LEGAL PRINCIPLES

         A. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996

         Congress 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).

         B. Standard of Review

          If a state's highest court 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 also Williams v. Taylor,529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000); Appel v. Horn,250 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2001). 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). The deferential standard of ยง 2254(d) applies even "when a state court's order is unaccompanied by an opinion explaining the reasons relief has been ...


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