United States District Court, D. Delaware
Walker. Pro se Petitioner.
T. Knoll, Deputy Attorney General of the Delaware Department
of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for Respondents.
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
CONNOLLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Petitioner Andre Walker'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) The State filed an Answer in
opposition. (D.I. 12) For the reasons discussed, the Court
will deny the Petition.
November 2010, a Delaware Superior Court jury found
Petitioner guilty of first degree robbery, possession of a
deadly weapon during the commission of a felony
("PDWDCF"), two counts of aggravated menacing, and
resisting arrest. See State v. Walker, 2013 WL
285737, at *1 (Del. Super. Ct. Jan. 24, 2013). The Superior
Court sentenced Petitioner as a habitual offender on January
21, 2011 to a total non-suspended period of life
imprisonment, plus five years. (D.I. 12 at 1) Petitioner
filed a motion for reduction of sentence on January 28, 2011,
which the Superior Court denied on February 17, 2011. (D.I.
12 at 1-2) The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed
Petitioner's convictions and sentences on September 6,
2011. See Walker v. State, 27 A.3d 552 (Table), 2011
WL 3904991, at *3 (Del. Sept. 6, 2011).
January 2012, Petitioner filed a motion for post-conviction
relief pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61
("Rule 61 motion"), which the Superior Court denied
on April 8, 2013. (D.I. 12 at 2) On post-conviction appeal,
the Delaware Supreme Court reversed the Superior Court's
decision and remanded Petitioner's case to the Superior
Court with instructions to appoint counsel for Petitioner.
See Walker v. State, 69 A.3d 372 (Table) 2013 WL
3355899, at *1 (Del. June 28, 2103).
November 17 2014, with the assistance of counsel, Petitioner
filed an amended Rule 61 motion. (D.I. 12 at 2) The Superior
Court denied the amended Rule 61 motion June 8, 2015, and the
Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision on May 2, 2016.
See State v. Walker, 2015 WL 3654806, at M-5 (Del.
Super. Ct. June 8, 2015); Walker v. State, 138 A.3d
476 (Table), 2016 WL 2654347 (Del. May 2, 2016).
Petitioner filed a motion for sentence modification on July
5, 2016. (D.I. 12 at 3) The Superior Court denied that motion
on July 14, 2016. Id.
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).
Standard of Review
state's highest court adjudicated a federal habeas claim
on the merits, the federal court must review the claim under
the deferential standard contained in 28 U.S.C. §
2254(d). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), federal habeas
relief may only be granted if the state court's decision
was "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable
application of, clearly established federal law, as
determined by the Supreme Court of the United States,"
or the state court's decision was an unreasonable
determination of the facts based on the evidence adduced in
the trial. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) & (2); see
also Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412 (2000);
Appel v. Horn, 250 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2001). A
claim has been "adjudicated on the merits" for the
purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) if the state court
decision finally resolves the claim on the basis of its
substance, rather than on a procedural or some other ground.
See Thomas v. Horn, 570 F.3d 105, 115 (3d Cir.
2009). The deferential standard of § 2254(d) applies
even "when a state court's order is unaccompanied by
an opinion explaining the reasons relief has been
denied." Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 98
(2011). As explained by the Supreme Court, "it may be
presumed that the state court adjudicated the claim on the
merits in the absence of any indication or state-law
procedural principles to the contrary." Id. at
when reviewing a habeas claim, a federal court must presume
that the state court's determinations of factual issues
are correct. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). This
presumption of correctness applies to both explicit and
implicit findings of fact, and is only rebutted by clear and
convincing evidence to the contrary. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(e)(1); Campbell v. Vaughn, 209 F.3d 280,
286 (3d Cir. 2000); Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S.
322, 341 (2003) (stating that the clear and convincing
standard in § 2254(e)(1) applies to factual issues,
whereas the unreasonable application standard of §
2254(d)(2) applies to factual decisions).
timely-filed Petition asserts the following three ineffective
assistance of counsel claims: (1) defense counsel improperly
permitted Petitioner to appear before the jury in prison
clothing during the trial; (2) defense counsel failed to
request a proper first degree robbery jury instruction that
conformed with Delaware law; and (3) defense counsel failed
to appeal the denial of Petitioner's motion for judgment
of acquittal. (D.I. 3) Petitioner presented these claims in
his Rule 61 motion filed with the Superior Court, which
denied the arguments as meritless. Petitioner presented the
same three claims to the Delaware Supreme Court on
post-conviction appeal, and the Delaware Supreme Court
affirmed the Superior Court's denial of the arguments
"on the basis of and for the reasons assigned by the
Superior Court." Walker, 2016 WL 2654347 ...