United States District Court, D. Delaware
HARRY W. ANDERSON, Petitioner,
DANA METZGER, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.
W. Anderson. Pro se Petitioner.
Gregory Smith, Deputy Attorney General of the Delaware
Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
CONNOLLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Petitioner Harry W. Anderson's
Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 and his Amended Petition (hereinafter referred to
as "Petition"). (D.I. 3; D.I. 18) The State filed
an Answer in opposition. (D.I. 23) For the reasons discussed,
the Court will deny the Petition.
September 2012, Petitioner was indicted on three counts of
felony theft, three counts of third degree burglary, and
three counts of criminal mischief. (D.I. 23 at 2) On January
24, 2013, Petitioner pled guilty to two counts of burglary,
in exchange for which the State dismissed the balance of the
indictment, agreed to move to sentence Petitioner as a
habitual offender on only one count, and agreed to recommend
no more than six years at Level V on that count. See
Anderson v. State, 99 A.3d 226 (Table), 2014 WL 3511717,
at *3 (Del. July 14, 2014). On September 20, 2013, the day of
Petitioner's scheduled sentencing, Petitioner orally
moved to withdraw his guilty plea. Id. at *1. The
Superior Court denied the motion, and sentenced Petitioner as
a habitual offender for the first count of burglary to 6
years at Level V incarceration. See Anderson v.
State, 130 A.2d 340 (Table), 2015 WL 9283845, at *1
(Del. Dec. 18, 2015). On the second burglary count, the
Superior Court sentenced Petitioner to three years at Level V
incarceration, suspended for 18 months at Level III
probation. Id. The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed
Petitioner's convictions and sentences on July 14, 2014.
See Anderson, 2014 WL 3511717, at *4.
Petitioner filed a motion for sentence reduction in December
2013 and a motion to correct an illegal sentence in August
2014. (D.I. 23 at 2) The Superior Court denied both motions
on September 8, 2014, and Petitioner did not appeal that
decision. See Anderson v. State, 2015 WL 1396360, at
*1 (Del. Mar. 24, 2015). Petitioner filed a second motion to
correct an illegal sentence on August 19, 2014, which the
Superior Court denied on September 8, 2014. (D.I. 23 at 2-3)
On September 22, 2014, Petitioner filed a document titled
"motion for extraordinary circumstances," seeking
correction of his sentence under Rule 35. See
Anderson, 2015 WL 1396360, at *1. The Superior Court
denied the motion on December 23, 2014, and the Delaware
Supreme Court affirmed that decision in March 2015.
Id. at *2. Petitioner filed a motion for
post-conviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court
Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion") on October 10,
2014, which the Superior Court on January 6, 2015. See
State v. Anderson, 2015 WL 121879, at *1, 4 (Del. Super.
Ct. Jan. 6, 2015). Petitioner did not appeal that decision.
Instead, on June 18, 2015, Petitioner filed in the Superior
Court a "motion for relief from judgment," seeking
relief from the Superior Court's January 6, 2015 denial
of his Rule 61 motion, which the Superior Court denied on
June 24, 2015. See State v. Anderson, 2015 WL
3882750, at *2 (Del. Super. Ct. June 24, 2015). Finally, on
July 17, 2015, Petitioner filed a motion for correction of
illegal sentence. (D.I. 23 at 3) The Superior Court denied
the motion on August 4, 2015, and the Delaware Supreme Court
affirmed that decision on December 18, 2015. See
Anderson, 2015 WL 9283845, at *2.
GOVERNING LEGAL PRINCIPLES
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of
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).
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). 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; 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 postconviction proceeding, in a
procedural manner permitting the court to consider the claims
on their merits. See Bell v. Cone, 543 U.S. 447, 451
n.3 (2005); Castille v. Peoples, 489 U.S. 346, 351
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); see
Teague 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). Federal 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