United States District Court, D. Delaware
Brendan O'Neill, Office of Defense Services for the State
of Delaware, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for Petitioner.
L. Arban, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of
Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for Respondents.
U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is an Application For A Writ Of Habeas
Corpus Pursuant To 28 U.S.C. § 2254
("Petition") filed by Petitioner Edward Clark
("Petitioner"). (D.I. 2) The State filed an Answer
in opposition, to which Petitioner filed a Reply. (D.I. 11;
D.I. 17) For the reasons discussed, the Court will dismiss
Petitioner's § 2254 Petition as time-barred by the
one-year period of limitations prescribed in 28 U.S.C. §
9, 2010, Petitioner pled guilty to one count each of delivery
of cocaine, trafficking cocaine (10 to 50 grams), maintaining
a vehicle for keeping controlled substances, and endangering
the welfare of a child. (D.I. 11 at 2) On that same day, the
Superior Court sentenced Petitioner as a habitual offender to
a total of twenty-two years of Level V incarceration,
suspended after nine years for reduced levels of supervision.
(D.I. 11 at 2) Petitioner did not file a direct appeal.
August 3, 2010, Petitioner filed a motion for modification of
sentence, which the Superior Court denied on August 10, 2010.
On May 24, 2011, Petitioner filed a pro se motion
for post-conviction relief pursuant to Delaware Superior
Court Criminal Rule 61. The Superior Court denied that motion
on October 6, 2011. Petitioner did not appeal either
decision. (D.I. 11 at 2)
March 27, 2015, Delaware's Office of Defense Services
("OPD") filed a second Rule 61 motion ("Rule
61 motion") on Petitioner's behalf. The Superior
Court summarily dismissed the Rule 61 motion on April 10,
2015. (D.I. 11 at 2) The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the
Superior Court's denial of Petitioner's Rule 61
motion on November 18, 2015. See Clark p. State, 128
A. 3d 636 (Table), 2015 WL 7294558 pel. Nov. 18, 2015).
September 23, 2016, the OPD filed a § 2254 Petition on
Petitioner's behalf, asserting that Petitioner's lack
of knowledge of an evidence scandal at the Office of the
Chief Medical Examiner ("OCME") was material to his
decision to plead guilty and, therefore, his guilty plea was
involuntary pursuant to Brady v. United States, 397
U.S. 742, 748 (1970). (D.I. 2) Petitioner also argues that
the Delaware Supreme Court made unreasonable findings of fact
during his postconviction appeal regarding OCME misconduct.
The State filed an Answer asserting that the Petition should
be dismissed as time-barred or, alternatively, because the
claim is meritless. (D.I. 11) Petitioner filed a Reply,
conceding that the Petition was filed after the expiration of
the statute of limitations period but asserting that it
should be deemed timely filed through the application of the
doctrine of equitable tolling. (D.I. 13 at 7)
OCME CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
summarized by the Delaware Supreme Court, the relevant
information regarding the OCME evidence mishandling is set
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.
Bnwn v. State, 108 A.3d 1201, 1204-05 (Del. 2015).
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
("AEDPA") prescribes a one-year period of
limitations for the filing of habeas petitions by state