United States District Court, D. Delaware
Brendan O'Neill, Office of Defense Services for die 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 Jermaine Williams
("Petitioner"). (D.I. 2) The State filed an Answer
in opposition, to which Petitioner filed a Reply. (D.I. 11;
D.I. 16) 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. §
March 4, 2013, Petitioner pled guilty to possession of Xanax
with aggravating factor. (D.I. 11 at 1) That same day, the
Superior Court sentenced Petitioner to one year of Level V
incarceration, suspended for one year of Level III
supervision. (D.I. 11 at 1) Petitioner did not file a direct
3, 2013, Petitioner filed a motion for modification of
sentence, which the Superior Court denied on July 12, 2013.
(D.I. 11 at 2)
December 19, 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. The
Superior Court summarily dismissed the Rule 61 motion on
January 15, 2015. (D.I. 11 at 2) The Superior Court also
denied his motion for reargument on February 12, 2015.
(Id.) The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the
Superior Court's denial of Petitioner's Rule 61
motion on December 2, 2015. See Jones v. State, 127
A.3d 397 (Table), 2015 WL 7776322 (Del. Dec. 2, 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 tiled an Answer asserting that die Petition should
be dismissed as time-barred or, alternatively, because the
claim is meatless. (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. 16 at 8)
OCME CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
relevant information regarding the OCME evidence mishandling
is set forth below:
In February 2014, the Delaware State Police ("DSP")
and die 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
"drylabbing" (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 been fired.
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).