United States District Court, D. Delaware
Brendan O'Neill, Office of Defense Services for the State
of Delaware, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for Petitioner.
Kathryn Joy Garrison, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware
Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
CONNOLLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 ("Petition")
filed by petitioner James May ("Petitioner"). (D.I.
2) The State filed an Answer in opposition, (D.I. 8), and
Petitioner filed a Reply (D.I. 12). For the following
reasons, the Court will deny the petition as barred by the
one-year limitations period prescribed in 28 U.S.C. §
March 8, 2013, pursuant to a consolidated plea agreement,
Petitioner pled guilty to drug dealing (cocaine) and
aggravated drug dealing (heroin). (D.I. 8 at 1) On that same
day, the Superior Court sentenced Petitioner as follows: (1)
for drug dealing cocaine, as an habitual offender to nine
years of Level V incarceration; and (2) for aggravated drug
dealing, ten years of Level V incarceration, suspended for
decreasing levels of supervision (D.I. 8 at 2) Petitioner did
not file a direct appeal.
6, 2014, Delaware's Office of Defense Services
("OPD") filed a motion for post-conviction relief
pursuant to Delaware Superior Court Criminal Rule 61
("Rule 61 motion) on Petitioner's behalf, which the
Superior Court denied on December 3, 2014. (D.I. 8 at 2) The
Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision on October 12,
2015. See Aricidiacono v. State, 125 A.3d 677 (Del.
September 19, 2016, the OPD filed a federal habeas Petition
on Petitioner's behalf, asserting the following two
grounds for relief: (1) the Delaware Supreme Court
unreasonably applied Brady v. United States, 397
U.S. 742, 748 (1970) when denying Petitioner's due
process argument that his guilty plea was involuntary; and
(2) the Delaware Supreme Court made unreasonable findings of
fact regarding the misconduct at the Delaware Office of the
Medical Examiner ("OCME"). (D.I. 2; D.I. 7) The
State filed an Answer asserting that the Petition should be
denied as time-barred or, alternatively, because the claims
are meritless. (D.I. 8) Petitioner filed a Reply arguing that
(1) the Petition is actually timely filed after applying
§ 2244(d)(1)(D) and equitable tolling; and (2) the
claims warrant relief under § 2254(d)(1) and (2). (D.I.
OCME Criminal Investigation
relevant information regarding the OCME evidence mishandling
is set forth below:
In February 2014, the Delaware State Police ("DSP")
and the Department of Justice ("DOJ") began an
investigation into criminal misconduct occurring in the
Controlled Substances Unit of the OCME.
The investigation revealed that some drug evidence sent to
the OCME for testing had been stolen by OCME employees in
some cases and was unaccounted for in other cases. Oversight
of the lab had been lacking, and security procedures had not
been followed. One employee was accused of "dry
labbing" (or declaring a test result without actually
conducting a test of the evidence) in several cases. Although
the investigation remains ongoing, to date, three OCME
employees have been suspended (two of those employees have
been criminally indicted), and the Chief Medical Examiner has
There is no evidence to suggest that OCME employees tampered
with drug evidence by adding known controlled substances to
the evidence they received for testing in order to achieve
positive results and secure convictions. That is, there is no
evidence that the OCME staff "planted" evidence to
wrongly obtain convictions. Rather, the employees who stole
the evidence did so because it in fact consisted of illegal
narcotics that they could resell or take for personal use.
Brown v. State, 108 A.3d 1201, 1204-05 (Del. 2015).