United States District Court, D. Delaware
Boyer. Pro se Petitioner.
T. Knoll, Deputy Attorney General of the Delaware Department
of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for Respondents.
TJ.S. District Judge.
pending before the Court is Petitioner Hasaan Boyer's
("Petitioner") Application for a Writ of Habeas
Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254
("Petition"). (D.I. 2) The State filed an Answer in
opposition (D.I. 12), to which Petitioner filed a Reply (D.I.
17). For the reasons discussed, the Court will dismiss the
was arrested on January 28, 2014 and subsequently charged by
information with a single count of dealing heroin. (D.I. 12
at 1) On February 11, 2014, Petitioner pled guilty to the
charge, and the Superior Court immediately sentenced him to
three years at Level V incarceration, suspended for 18 months
of Level II probation. Petitioner did not appeal his sentence
or conviction. (Id.).
April 2014, Petitioner violated the terms of his probation by
being arrested on new charges. (D.I. 12 at 1) On June 4,
2014, the Superior Court sentenced Petitioner on his
violation to three years at Level V, suspended for three
years at Level IV supervision, suspended in turn after six
months, for two years of Level III probation. (D.I. 12 at
April 30, 2014, Petitioner, through the Office of the Public
Defender for the State of Delaware ("OPD"), filed a
timely motion for postconviction relief pursuant to Delaware
Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion").
(D.I. 12 at 2) Petitioner's Rule 61 motion sought to
vacate his conviction based on an allegation of misconduct at
the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ("OCME").
Petitioner's Rule 61 motion was one of 112 Rule 61
motions seeking relief on the basis of the same OCME
misconduct. By May 2014, the OPD had filed more than 560 Rule
61 motions essentially asserting the same argument on behalf
of different defendants. More than 100 additional Rule 61
motions were filed in June 2014. According to Delaware
Department of Justice ("DOJ") records, the OPD
filed a total of 586 OCME Rule 61 motions in New Castle
County between 2014 and 2017. The vast majority of the cases
involved convictions by guilty plea. (Id.).
staff began cataloging the filings and researching specific
case information. (D.I. 12 at 2) Court personnel were also
faced with the task of entering the motions into the
appropriate case dockets and filing the papers in the correct
files. In order to try and streamline the process, the state
courts developed a plan of action whereby the identical
motions (e.g., motions to dismiss, to compel, or for a new
trial) were assigned to one Superior Court judge in each
County. Id. In addition, the New Castle County
Superior Court Judge assigned to handle the OCME
postconviction cases was also assigned to conduct pre-trial
evidentiary hearings in three active criminal cases. (D.I. 12
at 2-3) Those hearings took place in August 2014 and
culminated in a written Opinion dated November 17, 2014.
See State v. Irwin, 2014 WL 6734821 (Del. Super. Ct.
Nov. 17, 2014). (D.I. 12 at 3)
the Superior Court issued its November 2014 decision, the OPD
began filing supplements to its original Rule 61 motions.
(D.I. 12 at 3) In Sussex County, the assigned Superior Court
Judge issued an order to show cause to the OPD in more than
70 guilty plea cases in which die OPD had filed
postconviction motions based on OCME issues. That court
conducted a hearing on December 2, 2014. At the hearing, the
OPD did not object to the dismissal of 21 of the 74 cases
because "either there was no actual drug offense that
involved the medical examiner's office needing to be
involved, or they were misdemeanors and there was a
discharge, or they are felonies with a discharge where they
have quite a criminal history." (D.I. 12-1 at 12) The
Superior Court had previously dismissed approximately 60 OCME
postconviction motions that had been inappropriately filed.
The Superior Court specifically noted that in Sussex County,
more than 80 cases had been eliminated. In fact, the Superior
Court Judge expressed frustration that "the first
60-some included cases that were nol-prossed, included cases
that weren't even drug cases." (D.I. 12 at 3)
Thereafter, the Superior Court proceeded to address each
remaining case separately, ultimately denying relief in a
written order dated December 3, 2014. (D.I. 12 at 3) The
Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court's
judgment in a reported opinion dated October 12, 2015.
See Aricidiacono v. State, 125 A.3d 677 pel. 2015).
supplemented his Rule 61 motion more than a dozen times
between November 18, 2014 and April 26, 2017. (D.I. 12 at
3-4) During that time, he sought to estop the State from
arguing that he could not withdraw his guilty plea because he
had admitted cornmitting a drug offense, and asked for
alternative forms of relief and discovery in view of the
Delaware Supreme Court's decision in Aricidiacono.
(Id. at 4)
the higher volume of cases in New Castle County, the assigned
OCME Judge asked the parties for a roadmap to help move
through the cases. (D.I. 12 at 4) The OPD, in January 2016,
proffered 14 categories of cases to be decided. (D.I. 11-1 at
26-27) Because the DOJ believed that the cases could all be
resolved in light of the Delaware Supreme Court's
decision in Arddiacono and its progeny, or based on
the procedural bars of Superior Court Criminal Rule 61, the
DOJ conveyed that the OPD was in the best position to select
the specific cases that could act as vehicles for the OPD
claims. (D.I. 11-1 at 31-32) In October 2016, the OPD sent a
list of nine cases selected to be the basis of the
litigation. (D.I. 11-1 at 72-73) The Superior Court conducted
an office conference on January 12, 2017, at which time that
Court directed the DOJ to respond to the claims in eight
specific cases selected by the OPD. (D.I. 11-1 at 34-63) The
Superior Court gave the DOJ a due date of February 28, 2017.
(Id. at 56) The DOJ met the deadline and, on March
17, 2017, the Superior Court noted that the cases were ripe
for decision without an evidentiary hearing. (D.I. 12-2 at
1-2) The OPD filed a reply that same day, adding additional
argument. (D.I. 12-3 at 1-22) On May 11, 2017, the Superior
Court issued a Memorandum Opinion addressing the eight cases
selected by the OPD, denying relief. See State v.
Miller, 2017 WL 1969780 (Del. Super. Ct. May 11, 2017).
25, 2017, the Superior Court denied as meritiess
Petitioner's Rule 61 motion, based on his guilty plea and
"the reasons set forth in the decisions issued by this
Court in State v. Irwin, 2014 WL 6734821 (Del.
Super. Ct. Nov. 17, 2014) and State v. Miller, 2017
WL 1969780 (Del. Super. Ct. May 11, 2017) and the Delaware
Supreme Court in Brown v. State,108 A.3d 1201 (Del.
2015) and Aricidiacono v. State,125 A.3d 677 (Del.
2015)." (D.I. 15-17 at 2) Petitioner did ...