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Kane v. Metzger

United States District Court, D. Delaware

May 30, 2019

THOMAS F. KANE, Petitioner,
v.
DANA METZGER, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.[1]

          Thomas F. Kane. 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 Thomas F. Kane's ("Petitioner") 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. 1; D.I. 8) The State filed an Answer in opposition, to which Petitioner filed a Reply. (D.I. 17; D.I. 25) For the reasons discussed, the Court will deny the Petition as barred by the limitations period prescribed in 28 U.S.C. § 2244.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The facts leading to Petitioner's arrest and convictions are as follows:

[Petitioner] was arrested in December 2006 and charged with capital murder in the stabbing death of his wife. The crime was witnessed by the parties' nine-year-old son. [Petitioner] was arrested in possession of two bloody knives and a screwdriver while fleeing the scene. He confessed to the crime. He pled guilty but mentally ill on February 29, 2008 to one count each of Murder in the First Degree, Burglary in the First Degree, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and Criminal Contempt of a Protection from Abuse Order. In exchange for his plea, the State dismissed ten other criminal charges, including murder and weapon offenses, and agreed to recommend a life sentence instead of seeking the death penalty. The Superior Court immediately sentenced [Petitioner] to life imprisonment plus an additional term of twenty-seven years on all four convictions. [Petitioner] did not file a direct appeal.

Kane v. State, 135 A.3d 308 (Table), 2016 WL 1165949, at*1 (Del. Mar. 17, 2016).

         On August 10, 2010, Petitioner filed a motion to modify his sentence, which the Superior Court denied on October 22, 2010. (D.I. 17) Petitioner did not appeal that decision.

         Petitioner filed a pro se motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 ("Rule 61 motion") on April 17, 2012, which the Superior Court refused on May 8, 2012 for being non-compliant with Rule 61 (D.I. 20-1 at 10) Petitioner filed a new pro se Rule 61 motion on May 22, 2012 alleging, inter alia, claims that his plea was coerced, the State engaged in prosecutorial misconduct, and defense counsel provided ineffective assistance. (D.I. 17 at 3) On June 12, 2013, a Delaware Superior Court Commissioner issued a report recommending that the Rule 61 motion be denied as procedurally barred. Id.

         Meanwhile, on June 26, 2013, the Superior Court granted Petitioner's request for the appointment of counsel. (D.I. 17 at 4) On February 26, 2014, the Superior Court ordered appointed counsel to either file an amended Rule 61 motion or to seek to withdraw as counsel. Id. Post-conviction counsel filed a motion to withdraw, which the Superior Court granted, and Petitioner filed an amended Rule 61 motion on December 24, 2014. (D.I. 17 at 4, n. 8)

         On July 23, 2015, the Superior Court issued an order explaining that it had improvidently granted Petitioner's request to amend his Rule 61 motion after the Commissioner's June 2013 report, and concluded that the amended Rule 61 motion should be treated as second Rule 61 motion. (D.I. 17 at 4) In that same July 23, 2015 order, the Superior Court also: (1) adopted the Commissioner's June 2013 report; (2) denied Petitioner's first Rule 61 motion as both procedurally barred and meritless; and (3) denied Petitioner's second Rule 61 motion as time barred. (D.I. 17 at 4; D.I. 20-3 at 5-8; D.I. 20-4 at 4) The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court's decision on March 17, 2016. See Kane, 2016 WL 1165949, at *3.

         In May 2016, Petitioner filed the instant Petition asserting the following grounds for relief: (1) defense counsel provided ineffective assistance during all stages of the trial proceedings (D.I. 1 at 14); (2) the Superior Court violated Petitioner's due process right by failing to hold a second competency hearing to assess his mental state before accepting Petitioner's guilty plea (D.I. 4 at 7); (3) Petitioner did not voluntarily and knowingly enter into the plea because he was not competent to do so at the time (D.I. 4 at 9); (4) Petitioner was unable to assist defense counsel because ...


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