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Morgan v. Metzger

United States District Court, D. Delaware

February 28, 2019

THOMAS A. MORGAN, Petitioner,
v.
DANA METZGER, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.

          Thomas A. Morgan. Pro se Petitioner.

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

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [1]

          CONNOLLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Petitioner Thomas A. Morgan's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ("Petition"). (D.I. 1) The State filed a Motion for Leave to File a Motion to Dismiss (D.I. 15) simultaneously with the Motion to Dismiss. (D.I. 15-1) For the reasons discussed, the Court will grant the State's Motion for Leave to File a Motion to Dismiss as well as the Motion to Dismiss, and deny the Petition.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         In 1993, a Delaware Superior Court jury found Petitioner Thomas A. Morgan ("Petitioner") guilty of two counts of first degree unlawful sexual intercourse and one count each of second degree unlawful sexual contact and second degree kidnapping. (D.I. 15 at 1) The Superior Court sentenced Petitioner to a total of thirty-six years at Level V, suspended after thirty-two years for decreasing levels of supervision. See Morgan v. State, 116A.3d 1244 (Table), 2015 WL 4066768, at *1 (Del. July 1, 2015). The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed Petitioner's convictions and sentences on direct appeal. See Morgan v. State, 645 A.2d 569 (Table), 1994 WL 202272, at *1 (Del. May 5, 1994).

         In May 1995, Petitioner filed a federal habeas corpus petition challenging his 1993 convictions. (D.I. 15-2 at 2) The Honorable Joseph J. Longobardi denied the Petition in January 1996 after determining that the claims raised therein were meritless or procedurally barred. (D.I. 15-2 at 1-10) Petitioner did not appeal that decision.

         After the 1996 dismissal of his first habeas petition, Petitioner filed in the Delaware state courts at least seven motions for postconviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motions"), five motions to modify his sentence, two petitions for a writ of mandamus, and a motion to release evidence. (D.I. 15-1 at 2) The Superior Court denied those motions/petitions, and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the decisions which Petitioner appealed. (D.I. 15-1 at 2-3)

         In December 2006, Petitioner filed an application in the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit requesting authorization to file a second or successive habeas application. See In re: Morgan, C.A. No. 06-5157. The Third Circuit denied the application because Petitioner failed to satisfy the requirements for such authorization under 28 U.S.C. § 2244. See In re: Morgan, C.A. No. 06-5157, Order (3d Cir. Mar. 1, 2007); Morgan, 07mc40-UNA (D. Del. Mar. 1, 2007).

         Presently pending before the Court is Petitioner's new Petition for habeas corpus relief ("Petition"). (D.I. 1) The State filed a Motion for Leave to File a Motion to Dismiss, along with the Motion to Dismiss. (D.I. 15; D.I. 15-1)

         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). Claims based on errors of state law are not cognizable on federal habeas review, and federal courts cannot re-examine state court determinations of state law issues. See Mullaney v. Wilbur, 421 U.S. 684, 691 (1975) ("[s]tate courts are the ultimate expositors of state law"); Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991) (holding that claims based on errors of state law are not cognizable on habeas review). Additionally, 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. Second or ...


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