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Lanzo v. Akinbayo

United States District Court, D. Delaware

December 7, 2018

FRANCISCO LANZO, Petitioner,
v.
KOLAWOLE AKINBAYO, Warden and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.[1]

          Francisco Lanzo. Pro se petitioner.

          Kathryn Joy Garrison, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for respondents.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [2]

          Noreika, United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court is a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ("Petition") filed by Petitioner Francisco Lanzo ("Petitioner"). (D.I. 1). The State filed an Answer in opposition. (D.I. 9). For the reasons discussed, the Court will deny the Petition, I. BACKGROUND

         On July 22, 2014, Petitioner pled guilty to second degree conspiracy, aggravated possession, and two counts of drug dealing in a Tier 4 quantity. See Lanzo v. State, 123 A.3d 938 (Table), 2015 WL 5120872, at *1 (Del. Aug. 28, 2015). The Superior Court sentenced him to a total of 19 years of Level V incarceration, suspended after 10 years for decreasing levels of supervision. (D.I. 9 at 2) The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed Petitioner's convictions on direct appeal. See Lanzo, 2015 WL 5120872, at *l.

         In August 2016, Petitioner filed a motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion"). (D.I. 9 at 2). The Superior Court denied the Rule 61 motion in November 2016. (D.I. 12-5 at 4). Petitioner did not appeal that decision.

         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. 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, 404U.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 ...

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