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Davis v. Metzger

United States District Court, D. Delaware

August 13, 2019

NICHOLAS J. DAVIS, Petitioner,
v.
DANA METZGER, Warden, and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Respondents.[1]

          Nicholas J. Davis. Pro se Petitioner.

          Andrew J. Vella, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for respondents.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [2]

          NOREIKA, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Petitioner Nicholas J. Davis (“Petitioner”) filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (“Petition”) (D.I. 3) while he was incarcerated at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware. The State filed an Answer in opposition. (D.I. 11). For the reasons discussed, the Court will deny the Petition.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In September 2009, Petitioner pleaded guilty to possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony (“PDWDCF”) and second degree robbery. (D.I. 11 at 1). The Delaware Superior Court sentenced him to three years at Level 5 with credit for 151 days previously served, suspended for one year at Level 3 probation. (D.I. 11 at 1; D.I. 14-4 at 5). Petitioner did not appeal his conviction or sentence.

         On September 29, 2011, the Superior Court found Petitioner in violation of his probation for his robbery conviction and sentenced him to five years at Level 5, to be suspended upon successful completion of the Greentree Program for eighteen months at Level 3 probation. (D.I. 11 at 2). Petitioner filed a motion for modification of sentence on June 18, 2012, which the Superior Court denied on July 24, 2012. (D.I. 14-5 at 2). On April 2, 2015, while still serving the VOP sentence related to his robbery conviction, Petitioner filed a motion for credit for time served. (D.I. 11 at 2; D.I. 14-5 at 2) Then, on April 22, 2015, Petitioner was arrested for possessing a cell phone. (D.I. 3 at 5; D.I. 11 at 2) The Superior Court denied Petitioner's motion for credit for time served on April 30, 2015, observing that Petitioner's confession to possessing a cell phone resulted in his removal from the Greentree Program and reclassification to a higher security level. (D.I. 11 at 2; D.I. 14-5 at 3).

         On May 7, 2015, by information, the State charged Petitioner with promoting prison contraband regarding the same cell phone. (D.I. 11 at 2; D.I. 14-7 at 1). Petitioner pleaded guilty to promoting prison contraband on June 9, 2015, and the Superior Court sentenced him to three years at Level 5, suspended after sixty days for one year at Level 3 probation. (D.I. 11 at 2; D.I. 14-2 at 1).

         Petitioner filed the instant Petition in May 2016. (D.I. 3). The sole Claim asserts that the incarceration portion of the sentence for his prison contraband conviction should have expired on May 20, 2016, thereby rendering his continued incarceration past that date illegal. (D.I. 3 at 5).

         Petitioner was released from prison on September 28, 2016, at which time he started serving his concurrent probationary sentences for his robbery and promoting prison contraband convictions. (D.I. 11 at 2). On November 10, 2016, while on probation, Petitioner was arrested on new charges of aggravated menacing, possession of a deadly weapon by a person prohibited, offensive touching, and driving without a valid license. (D.I. 11 at 2; D.I. 14-3 at 1). DOC officials took Petitioner back into custody on November 15, 2016, and filed an administrative warrant on November 16, 2016. DOC officials filed a violation of probation report on November 22, 2016. (D.I. 11 at 2; D.I. 14-4). The state court records do not provide information past November 22, 2016. According to the Delaware Inmate Locator, however, Petitioner is presently incarcerated at the Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown, Delaware.

         II. GOVERNING LEGAL PRINCIPLES

         Pursuant to Article III of the Constitution, federal courts can only consider ongoing cases or controversies. Lewis v. Continental Bank, Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 477-78 (1990); United States v. Kissinger, 309 F.3d 179, 180 (3d Cir. 2002) (finding that an actual controversy must exist during all stages of litigation). The “case-or-controversy requirement subsists through all stages of federal judicial proceedings, ” Lewis, 494 U.S. at 477-78, and there must be “a live case or controversy at the time that a federal court decides the case.” Burke v. Barnes, 479 U.S. 361, 363 (1987). “[T]he question of mootness is one . . . which a federal court must resolve before it assumes jurisdiction.” North Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 246 (1971).

         When a habeas petitioner challenges his underlying conviction, and he is released during the pendency of his habeas petition, federal courts presume that “a wrongful criminal conviction has continuing collateral consequences” sufficient to satisfy the injury requirement. Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 8 (1998); see Steele v. Blackman, 236 F.3d 130, 134 n.4 (3d Cir. 2001). Collateral consequences, however, will not be presumed when a petitioner does not attack his conviction but, instead, challenges a “sentence that has already been served.” Burkey v. Marberry, 556 F.3d 142, 148 (3d Cir. 2009). In such cases, the collateral consequences must be proven and likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision. Id. at 148; Spencer, 523 U.S. at 7. In the absence of continuing collateral consequences, a federal district court does not have jurisdiction to review moot habeas claims. See Rice, 404 U.S. at 246.

         III. ...


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